LAKELAND — Publix Super Markets is expanding into Kentucky.
The grocery giant announced Tuesday, Sept. 7, that it has signed a lease and will build its first store in the state, a 55,702 -square-foot store in a shopping center located in a suburb of Louisville. The store will include the first Publix Liquors outside of Florida.
There is no firm date on when the new store will open, but the company expects it to be in late 2023.
Kentucky will be the eighth state that Publix, a hometown favorite among Floridians, has moved into. It currently operates 1,281 stores in seven states.
Publix CEO Todd Jones says in a statement that moving into Kentucky is “a natural progression for our company.”
Opening a store in Louisville could be seen as a move onto the home turf of The Kroger Co., which is headquartered about 100 miles north in Cincinnati. The two chains are already duking it out in Florida — and several other states — where Kroger recently launched a delivery service and opened a massive 375,000-square-foot distribution center in Groveland.
Despite Publix’s growth and strength, Kroger is one of the largest grocery chains in the world with 20 brands operating 2,800 stores in 35 states. It posted $132.5 billion in sales in 2020.
Publix, which was founded in Winter Haven in 1930, had just under $45 billion in revenue in 2020.