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Founded in New York City during the original internet boom nearly 20 years ago, the company now is preparing to open a 400,000 square-foot facility in the South Bronx that will allow it to double its business, according to Chief Executive Officer Jason Ackerman. Revenue is projected to exceed $800m this year, according to an estimate from Kantar Retail.
Sales have already more than doubled over the last six years, and the company has been profitable since 2010. It sends trucks full of staples like paper towels, steak and peaches, to stock up city-dwellers’ apartments.
The expansion thrusts FreshDirect into the jockeying for position in the online grocery market as Amazon.com Inc.’s acquisition of Whole Foods forces both supermarket chains and startups into an e-commerce arms race. While the Seattle-based giant hasn’t had much luck cracking the code on fresh food over the last decade, its grocery push has forced rivals such as Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co. to spend billions to ramp up their own digital capabilities in anticipation of food spending shifting online.
FreshDirect, meanwhile, appears to have figured out the so-called last mile — the expensive final leg that makes grocery delivery such a difficult proposition. The closely held company is confident it can use its model in new markets, with Ackerman pointing to FreshDirect’s arrival in Philadelphia in 2012. The company has now been profitable there for three years and is expanding to Boston, he said.
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