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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 6 years ago

Kroger might encroach into Publix territory

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Could Publix be in for some mighty competition?

Could Publix be in for some mighty competition?

Rumors have percolated that Kroger, one of the largest grocery companies in the world, with $98.4 billion in 2013 sales, has scouted locations in Florida. A commercial real estate broker specifically tells Coffee Talk the company, with no flagship locations in the Sunshine State, has looked at sites north of Tampa and in the Fort Myers area. Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey, in an email response to the Business Observer, says the firm doesn't comment on rumor or speculation.

But a move into Florida under the Kroger name is easy to justify: Cincinnati-based Kroger is already in more than 30 states, from Alaska to Georgia. The company made its first foray into Florida earlier this year when it closed on a $2.4 billion deal to buy Harris Teetter, which has one location in the state, outside Jacksonville.

And the most important factor could be Publix itself, which has grown aggressively outside of Florida in recent years, in North Carolina and Georgia. Lakeland-based Publix has 761 stores in Florida and a 43% market share, according to the Shelby Report, an industry data publication. Maybe Kroger wants to take the fight directly to Publix.

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