After months of denying otherwise, Lakeland, FL-based Publix Super Markets Inc. has moved into North Carolina. The move comes as the company reports soaring profits and other retailers are stepping up their presence in Publix’s home state.
Publix had more than 1,000 grocery stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee before opening its first North Carolina location near Charlotte last month.
Publix recently reported net income of $368.4 million, or 47 cents per share, for the third quarter, compared to $311.9 million, or 40 cents per share, for the same period in 2011. The company reported revenue of $6.7 billion for the same period, compared to $6.4 billion last year. Publix stock, not traded publicly and held entirely by employees, rose 50 cents per share to $22.50 on the news.
The company has also recently expanded its deli online ordering to 50 stores after a pilot project showed promise. The service allows Publix customers to place orders online or via mobile devices for its popular deli products, including much-in-demand fried and roasted chicken and fresh-made sub sandwiches. The service debuted in August and was quickly expanded based on early success.
Meanwhile, a Russian retailer wants to expand its chain of Okey-Dokey small-box grocery stores to Tampa Bay. ArgoTrade International, with an office in Miami, is scouting for five leases and a build-to-suit site in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, according to a Tampa Bay developer familiar with the discussions.
The Tampa Bay Business Journal recently reported that the chain plans to open at least 30 stores in Tampa and Orlando in the next 12-18 months.
The Okey-Dokey value-focused concept is similar to the Miami-based ALDI chain, which specializes in building small stores in “food deserts” where fresh produce is often hard to find.
Okey-Dokey stores average 4,200 to 7,500 square feet, compared to the 45,000- to 53,000-square-foot Publix markets.
According to a company brochure, Okey-Dokey will carry “everyday food and beverages,” including wine, beer and liquor, and will offer national brands, with long-term plans to replace half the stock with its own labels.
The company also plans to build 180,000-square-foot distribution centers in Miami and Orlando.
Also, Whole Foods Market recently announced that it will open a new store in Clearwater, FL, the chain’s 18th location in the state. The announcement was made in mid-November on the company’s Facebook page but did not provide a precise location or opening date for the new store.