Webvan to expand with four distribution centers

The online grocery signs leases to build four distribution centers near Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Webvan Group, an online grocery started by Borders Books founder Louis Borders, has signed leases to build four distribution centers near Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Terms weren't disclosed. The automated distribution centers will serve as hubs for regional operations and are part of a larger contract with Bechtel Group, an engineering-construction company, to develop a distribution network in 26 U.S. markets over the next three years.

The distribution centers will be modeled after Webvan's first, a 330,000-square-foot building in Oakland, which opened in June 1999 and serves the San Francisco Bay area.

"These distribution centers will greatly expand Webvan's reach into four of the top e-commerce cities in the country," CEO George Shaheen said in a statement.

Webvan shares rose 3.19 to 27.88 in early trading. The stock has risen about 86 percent since the company first sold shares to the public earlier this month at $15 each.

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