Albertsons Cos.' Florida sojourn is finally coming to an end.
Publix has entered into an agreement with Albertsons to acquire the latter retailer’s three remaining grocery stores in the Sunshine State, which are currently operating under the Safeway banner.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, should help end long-standing speculation that Albertsons had plans to repopulate Florida, which it nearly abandoned a decade ago. In 2008, Albertsons sold off most of its Florida stores—including 49 stores in a single deal to Publix—but curiously held on to three locations in Altamonte Springs, Largo and Oakland Park.
Speculation as to their future heightened two years ago when Albertsons invested $10 million to convert all three of those stores from their long-standing identity as Albertsons stores to the Safeway banner it had since acquired. Some observers anticipated Albertsons could use those locations as a base to acquire additional stores, with speculation around a possible sell-off of Winn-Dixie stores there.
Winn-Dixie, however, held onto most of its Florida stores despite a recent bankruptcy reorganization by its parent, Southeastern Grocers.
Now they will continue as part of Publix, Florida’s largest supermarket chain.
“Publix continues to look for ways to expand within our operating area to better serve our customers,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “We are excited for this opportunity to acquire existing stores within our home state.”
Publix said the stores would continue to operate under the Safeway banner until closing in early September and reopen under the Publix banner later this year. Safeway’s pharmacies will close prior to the main store closings. Publix posters will be displayed within Safeway’s pharmacies to advise customers once their prescriptions have transferred to the Publix Pharmacy.
Publix is encouraging the impacted Safeway employees to pursue job opportunities with it and will provide details on how to apply for employment.
An Albertsons spokesperson contacted by WGB confirmed the sale but had no further comment.