Rick Cohen’s Symbotic Expands Deal to Automate Walmart’s Warehouses To All 42 Regional Distribution Centers

Rick Cohen, Symbotic’s chief test officer in Massachusetts at Symbotic.

Symbotic, Rick Cohen’s warehouse robots company, Symbotic, has extended its partnership with Walmart’s 42 regional distribution centers. Officially, Symbotic now has 25 more Walmart warehouses to outfit.

Symbotic, a company based in Wilmington, Massachusetts, and Cohen, the executive chairman and owner of C&S Wholesale Grocers (the nation’s largest grocery wholesaler, with $25 billion in annual revenue), are delighted to announce an expanded Walmart partnership. Cohen founded Symbotic 15-years ago to create automation that would help him with logistics at C&S. He funded it with his own money.

Cohen created Symbotic mostly in stealth. However, the company posted $252m in revenue for fiscal 2021 and is currently going public in a $5.5billion deal with a particular purpose acquisitions company (SPAC), sponsored by SoftBank Venture Capital. Symbotic appointed Michael Loparco as its CEO in March. Previously, he had been Jabil’s executive vice president and chief operating officer for electronics manufacturing services.

It isn’t easy to comprehend the scale of Symbotic’s automation. Symbotic’s automation is vast. More than 400 or even more Symbotic bots could zip up and down ten levels on narrow aisles, completing more than 30 transactions an hour in a large warehouse. Cohen said it was a giant Rubik’s cube, or even more than 1,000. They could zip up and down ten levels of narrow aisles, completing over 30 transactions per hour—Forbes estimates Cohen’s wealth at $6Billion. The majority of this is from Symbotic rather than C&S.

As warehouse logistics are in the spotlight, consumers demand faster shipments of their e-commerce orders, and retailers need to stock their shelves with reliability and speed. The expanded Walmart deal is a good example. Symbotic’s ability to build palletized loads from sorted inventory can help Walmart (revenue: $573 billion) quickly get products to its 4,700 stores. Symbotic technology has been called a “game-changer” by Joe Metzger (executive vice president, supply chain operations, Walmart U.S.).

It takes time to switch warehouses to the new technology. Symbotic and Walmart expect the retrofitting will take over eight years.

Walmart will retrofit all 42 regional distribution centers using Symbotic’s robotics in the next eight-plus year.

Symbotic customers include Albertsons, Target, and Cohen’s C&S. Symbotic also reported a $53 million net loss in that period, and a $122 million net loss for the 2021 year, according to a SVF3’s latest registration statement. According to SVF 3, the company reported a $53million net loss and a $122million loss for 2021.

Symbotic will likely trade on Nasdaq starting under the ticker “SYM.” On June 3, the SPAC (also known as SVF Investment Corp. 3) will hold a virtual meeting to discuss the deal.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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