(Dec. 16) HOUSTON — Sysco Corp. has agreed to purchase a 46-acre site in Oxnard, Calif. — an area known for year-round vegetable production — to build a 300,000-square-foot broadline product distribution center.

Construction of the center, on Sturgis Road, near Del Norte Boulevard, is expected to begin in spring of 2003.

The facility is expected to be operational by the second quarter of calendar year 2004.

The center is described as being part of a “fold-out” company strategy.

Under the plan, Sysco Corp., North America’s largest foodservice marketing and distribution organization, opens new distribution centers in areas with an established customer base of between $120 million and $150 million that had no distribution centers nearby.

The Oxnard distribution center is the 12th broadline fold-out facility and the 15th Sysco distribution center in California.

The company had planned to expand its presence in the Southern California market for some time, Charles Cotros, chairman and chief executive officer of Sysco, said in a news release.

The new center also will improve Sysco’s customer service, he said.