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Publix’s plan for expanding inside and outside Florida

publix exterior

As mentioned previously in this series, Publix Super Markets, Inc. BB #:110909 Lakeland, FL, is not resting on its laurels amidst incursions into its realm.

In 2019 and 2020, Publix was the second most active grocer in the nation when it came to adding square footage, just after Aldi, according to real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle.

Publix’s total square footage in Florida grew by 1.3 million during the period.

In 2021 alone, Publix opened 45 supermarkets (including 10 replacement units), remodeled 134 stores, and closed 16. It ended 2021 with 1,293 locations in 7 southeastern states. In 2020, it had opened 39 stores (including 9 replacements), remodeled 154, and closed 14.

In 2022, Publix expects to spend about $2 billion on new stores and remodels, new and upgraded technology, warehouse construction and expansion, and shopping acquisition and development, the company says.

This represents an increase of 55 percent over both 2021 and 2020, when $1.29 billion and $1.23 billion, respectively, were spent.

Beyond Florida, Publix currently has 196 stores in Georgia, 82 in Alabama, 64 in South Carolina, 52 in Tennessee, 51 in North Carolina, and 19 in Virginia as of the end of 2021. This compares to 832 stores in Florida. It opened 5 additional stores in Florida and Georgia in early 2022 and has more planned.

The company also maintains 9 distribution centers in the Southeast (including 7 in Florida) and 11 manufacturing facilities (8 in Florida and 3 in Georgia). It maintains its own plants for bakery, fresh foods, dairy, deli, and printing services.

As its home market becomes more saturated, Publix has been expanding northward. In 2017, it entered Virginia. In September of last year, it announced that it would enter Kentucky, opening a store in Louisville in 2023 followed by a second Louisville location in early 2024.

Publix’s expansion efforts will put it face to face with new competitors.

Santa Monica, CA-based Phil Lempert, also known as the Supermarket Guru, is keeping an eye on the Northeastern chain Wegmans, which has been moving southward and now has stores in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.

He says the two chains are starting to bump heads.

“It will be interesting to see what happens if they start competing directly with each other,” he says.

Publix’s natural format, GreenWise Market, has also expanded outside Florida, with mixed results. The brand was introduced in stores in 2003, with the first standalone locations under the banner in 2007.

The company soon refocused the concept and opened hybrid stores with elements of both Publix and GreenWise, before relaunching GreenWise as a standalone again in 2018 with smaller stores of about 25,000 square feet.

Throughout 2019 and 2020, locations in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina were opened. All but one, in Alabama, ended up closing.

GreenWise Market currently has 8 locations, including the Alabama store and 7 others in Florida. The urban format includes features such as kombucha on tap, organic pizza by the slice, and gourmet cheese, olive, and wine shops.

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.