Hard-discount grocery retailer Save-A-Lot, has announced plans to build a 325,000sq ft food distribution centre in Lexington, North Carolina.

Supervalu-owned Save-A-Lot, which operates around 1,200 stores in 39 states, said it has identified plans to double the number of stores it operates nationally over the next five years.

Currently, the company operates 17 stores in North Carolina, including one in Lexington, with plans to open an additional eight stores in the state this year, as well as six stores in South Carolina.

The new distribution center, a US$24m project, will help support the company’s growth plans in North Carolina, the firm said, and the surrounding region, which the company has identified as a key region for growth.

“The Lexington distribution center will enable us to serve our current stores more efficiently and at the same time, grow our business in the region,” said Bill Shaner, Save-A-Lot president and CEO. “I believe this will be a wonderful partnership for Save-A-Lot, Lexington and the region.”

The new facility will be located in Lexington’s Business Center and is scheduled to open in December 2011. It is expected to employ around 40 staff initially with the potential for hiring additional employees once the facility is at full capacity.

The building will be a state-of-the-art food distribution center utilising the latest in green technologies, including lights that only operate when a person is present and an HVAC system that uses smart thermostats.

The project is the result of a collaboration with the state and its One North Carolina Fund and the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Davidson County and the City of Lexington, the Supervalu subsidiary said today (19 October).