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Publix basks in industry recognition

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Lakeland, FL-based Publix was recognized for upping local produce sourcing to donate to hunger agencies during the height of the pandemic.

All of the community relations initiatives contribute to Publix Super Markets, Inc. BB #:110909 Lakeland, FL appearing regularly on lists of the best food retailers in the United States published by entities such as Newsweek.

Fortune has named the company one of thebest places in the United States to work for 25 straight years—one of only four companies to have appeared on the list every year since its inception in 1998—as well as placing Publix on its list of most admired companies, where it ranked number-one in the food and drugstore segment in 2022.

Publix also ranked seventh among retailers and wholesalers on Forbes’ list of America’s 500 best large employers in 2022.

And, on the new Forbes Halo 100 list, the first of which came out this year to highlight companies that provide excellent customer service in a responsible way, Publix landed as fourth overall and first among grocery retailers.

In addition to industry accolades, Publix’s financial performance has been strong, particularly when it comes to rising sales.

The first quarter of 2022 saw a bump in sales of 13.5 percent, with comparable store sales up 11.7 percent, although net earnings fell 58.7 percent compared to the first quarter of 2021.

The company said net earnings would have increased 15.5 percent if the impact of net unrealized losses on equity securities in 2022 and net unrealized gains on equity securities in 2021 had been excluded.

“Publix’s Q1 double-digit sales increases were impressive given its focus on price-sensitive, low-margin groceries,” says Carol Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail in Bentonville, AR

For fiscal 2021, annual sales were 21 percent higher than 2019 and 7 percent higher than 2020 (which saw an increase of 17.7 percent over 2019).

The fourth quarter of that year, when sales were up 12.4 percent compared to the previous year (on top of net sales growth of 14.8 percent in 2020), represented the fifth straight quarter of double-digit growth for the company.

Going into the pandemic, Publix was particularly well positioned when it comes to ecommerce given its solid relationship with Instacart. Publix first began offering same-day delivery through Instacart in July 2016 and debuted Instacart curbside pickup in September 2017.

After a pilot in Tampa, in late 2021 the chain launched Publix Quick Picks, an Instacart priority delivery-powered virtual convenience store that operates across its region and allows consumers to receive small orders of a variety of products, including fresh foods, in about a half hour.

And, in April 2022, Publix and Instacart began offering 15-minute delivery in Miami through Instacart’s nano-fulfillment solution, Carrot Warehouses.

Publix was the first grocer to work with Instacart and Carrot Warehouses, offering a broader selection of products, including fresh produce, than is typical for rapid delivery.

“Wise retailers have been leaning into partnerships to fill in convenience and last-mile gaps,” Spieckerman says. “Publix’s ongoing expansion with Instacart has been timely as Amazon encroaches, particularly in the Florida market.”

This is an excerpt from the Florida Supplement in the September/October 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole supplement.