© Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

The North American cold storage market is undergoing rapid consolidation, and Americold is keeping its foot firmly on the accelerator.

Less than a month after one acquisition, the cold storage behemoth is taking over yet another player, Hall’s Warehouse Corp, to expand its footprint.

The $480m acquisition brings a further 58 million cubic feet of warehouse space to its portfolio.

Hall’s operates eight facilities in New Jersey, all within 30 miles of the port of Newark, comprising 200,000 pallet positions and serving 220 customers. According to Americold, the occupancy rate is 95%.

Americold president & CEO Fred Boehler said the deal “complements our growing scale in a key market located with one day’s drive of approximately 30% of the population in the US”.

The move in the north-east follows an October takeover that marked a strong push into Europe, as well as boosting Americold’s presence in the Americas and Australia. It bought Agro Merchants Group, from an investor group led by Oaktree Capital Management, for $1.74bn.

With 236 million cubic feet of reefer space in 46 facilities across 10 countries and serving more than 2,900 customers, Agro is a giant: the fourth-largest temperature-controlled warehouse operator in the world, third-largest in Europe and ranked fourth in the US.

Subject to regulatory approval the deal is expected to close late this year or in the first quarter of 2021.

Mr Boehler said: “The acquisition of Agro represents a unique opportunity to acquire an institutional-quality global portfolio that facilitates our strategic entry into Europe and adds complementary locations in the US, South America and Australia.

“This strategic transaction provides exciting long-term growth opportunities through our ability to implement the Americold operating system and commercial business rules across the Agro platform.”

Americold is also boosting its in-house footprint with a $95m investment in Arkansas and Calgary. The bulk, $84m, goes to a ‘build-to-suit’ expansion with a high degree of automation for client Conagra Brands, one of North America’s leasing branded food companies. And in Calgary, Americold is spending $11m to expand a facility gained earlier this year via the acquisition of Nova Cold.

Americold is leading a wave of consolidation in the cold storage arena. On 3 November, Total Distribution bought the assets of Kandel Cold Storage for an undisclosed amount, a move that expands its footprint in Ohio. Together the pair have over 8m square feet of warehouse space in 46 facilities across seven US states.

One day later, Titan Cold Storage formed a strategic partnership with Port Logistics Refrigerated Service. The latter runs a 135,000 sq ft facility in Tampa Bay specialising in fresh produce, proteins and other perishable food and beverage commodities. Together, the pair will target Florida and the south-east and are looking at expansion capabilities into the Midwest through truck and rail services.

In July, cold storage giant Lineage Logistics continued its expansion drive with the acquisition of Ontario Refrigerated Services and entered the Canadian market. The move gave Lineage four facilities with 510,000 sq ft of space and 100,000 pallet positions.

And as the pandemic has increased appetite for fresh food, more takeovers and alliances in the cold storage market are on the cards.

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