Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will Kroger be the Next Supermarket Chain To Attempt Florida?

   
     
     Back when Albertsons did their 2012 round of closings in Florida which left them with 4 stores left across the entire state, I heard quite a few rumors that Kroger was interested in purchasing what remained of Albertsons Florida. As you can see, that never seemed to happen...at least yet. 

     However, the other day I was doing some Googling and I stumbled across two very interesting articles about Kroger from the Cincinnati Business Courier and the Jacksonville Business Journal (Although the articles are from July 2013, they're still pretty interesting). Back in January, Kroger finalized their purchase of the Harris Teeter chain. Harris Teeter only operates one store in Florida, which is right over the Georgia border in Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, north of Jacksonville. Supermarket analysts consider this to be Kroger's "foot in the door" to re-enter the Florida market after a failed attempt back in the 80's. 

Example of a typical Kroger built SupeRx Food and Drug store. The early SupeRx Food and Drug stores had the distinctive rounded awning over the entryway, which you can see in the photo above. This store was located at 5275 Babcock St. NE in Palm Bay, FL - in the Country Club Plaza. 
An old SupeRx price tag I found on some old Christmas light bulbs at the thrift store yesterday, coincidentally. 
     As I said, and as you can see above, Kroger tried entering Florida once already back in the 80's. Kroger opened their first Florida store, a SupeRx Food and Drug combo store in Indian Harbour Beach, Brevard County, back in 1980. As the 80's went on, Kroger began opening more Florida stores under the names SupeRx Food and Drug (along with regular SupeRx stand alone pharmacies, which were primarily in shopping centers), Orlando Foodway, and Sunshine, with some having attached liquor stores. Since there were so many supermarket chains already competing in Florida in the 80's, Kroger found it hard to find its niche. In 1986, as an attempt to save its Florida division, Kroger began a re-branding campaign, renaming all of their Florida stores Florida Choice as a way to unite their Florida stores under the same banner.

     With the rebranding to the Florida Choice name, Kroger began to remodel and replace older SupeRx Food and Drug, Orlando Foodway, and Sunshine stores and replace them with larger, more upscale oriented Florida Choice stores to compete with stores like Publix. Around the same the the Florida Choice rebranding was occurring, Florida's 107 SupeRx stand alone pharmacies were sold off to Rite Aid when Kroger eliminated their stand alone pharmacy division (and Rite Aid pulled out of Florida soon after). Also in 1987, Kroger purchased Family Mart from A&P, bringing the Florida Choice store count to 43 stores across the state.

The logo for Kroger's short lived Florida Choice division.
     But by 1988, Kroger deemed Florida Choice a failure, and sold off the remaining Florida Choice stores to Kash n' Karry in the western part of the state and Goodings in the central and eastern parts of the state. However since 1988, more and more supermarket chains have closed or left Florida, leaving Publix and Winn-Dixie as the only traditional supermarket chains with a major presence left in Florida (once Sweetbay is gone in May). This would make it a great time for Kroger to re-enter Florida now that the competition has been weeded down since the 80's, when everybody wanted a piece of the Florida market. According to the articles, the only thing holding Kroger back from re-entering Florida is Publix. Publix is a powerhouse that nobody has tried to mess with for years, and they rule the Florida supermarket industry. Unlike financially burdened (yet starting to recover) Winn-Dixie, Kroger does have the money and stability to attempt a Florida expansion to compete with Publix. Kroger's newer stores also have a similar upscale feel like Publix's too, and Kroger could very well give Publix a run for their money if they try a serious Florida expansion.

     Kroger hasn't said anything official about this yet, and they won't comment on it, but maybe in the next few years, we'll see Kroger stores appearing in Florida once again. As always, the Albertsons Florida Blog will keep on top of this if anything new appears. 

     If you want to read the two articles I mentioned earlier, you can access them here and here.

Until Next Time, 
The Albertsons Florida Blogger   

23 comments:

  1. hello as of 9-06-2014 is there any rumors about a kroger entering fl. ? it would be nice for the residents of fl. to have the kr shopping experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only new information to come out about Kroger entering Florida since I wrote this post in early March is that they announced they were in the process of looking for sites to enter a new market, however they didn't release which market that would be, and probably won't for a while until they secure a number of sites. I think there's a very strong chance that new market could be Florida, however there aren't any guarantees at the moment. Now that the competition has been weeded down since the Florida Choice days, I think Kroger could pull off a successful FL division if they tried again. If Kroger ever does make an official announcement about entering FL, I will definitely post something about it here. I'm always checking for updates on this topic, as I would also like to have a Kroger near me.

      Delete
    2. thank you for the info on kr will be staying in touch with any news i hear

      Delete
    3. generally, kroger does not move into new markets on a standalone basis. And with very rare exceptions, they do not like to acquire weak/failing companies. (They just did with Roundy's but that was because of their growing Chicago division.)

      They do through acquisition and unlike many companies they seem to be good at harvesting best practice from acquisitions and not destroying it. So if they are to move into the market, it could come from organic growth by Harris-Teeter. But speaking of H-T in the DC market, they have good even great specials and nice stores, but the average pricing of H-T items leans expensive. I haven't been into a Publix for many years, so I am no longer familiar with the store and how it compares to others.

      Delete
    4. With the developments that have happened in the two years since this post was written, it's more likely that Safeway will be making a move across Florida, not Kroger. The lone Florida Harris Teeter in Fernandina Beach is currently undergoing an expansion to add some of Harris Teeter's specialty departments to what was a relatively tiny, bare bones HT store. From what I've heard, Publix is usually a little cheaper than Harris Teeter for most items, although service and quality for both is comparable. Harris Teeter also has a larger selection of prepared food departments, something Publix has only recently (last 4-5 years) started developing and growing.

      Delete
    5. I lived and grew up in the lovely state of Maryland for 25 years. In Maryland we had Safeway as the dominant chain, but across the border in West Virginia they did have Kroger's. In January 1996, I moved to Florida and we had two large grocery chains: Albertson's and Publix. I was very sad to see Albertson's close down all but a handful of their stores. Winn-Dixie is one of my least favorite grocery stores. Kash-n-Karry on the the other hand and the few Sweetwaters that are left and closing, I do like. I have been a pretty loyal Publix customer for 20 years. They have clean stores and reasonable prices. I don't care for the Wally World super markets, since seem to come across as dingier, darker and catering to a "subprime" clientele. I'm not being a snob, I just like to have a nice shopping experience and Publix gives me that. However, I would love for Safeway or Kroger's to come into Florida and offer some alternative choices and light a fire under Publix, which appears to have become a natural monopoly here in Florida. I love Publix, but I would still like some choices.

      Delete
    6. I feel the same. Publix is a nice store, but they just control too much. They've saturated the state with their 700+ Florida stores alone, and in the process of building up their presence, they've sent most of their competitors packing. Walmart can be a nightmare to shop at and I tend to avoid that place as much as possible, so that doesn't leave too many other grocery options. Publix needs another chain to show they can be a serious competitor. Hopefully these new Safeways will take off, as the store was very nice and offered a pleasant shopping experience. If I lived closer to one of the three Safeways, it would be a great alternative to Publix.

      Delete
  2. Please Please Kroger COME to Daytona Beach Florida !!! It is Publix or nothing. I am sick of Publix.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The KR Marketplace store is awesome. publix would have some stiff competition. once you shop a KR store its hard to go back to publix. product selection is not even close. I see KR entering the Jax area moving down to Orlando then across to the west coast. New state of the art distro center being built on former army base to serve the southeast. it will open in less than 5 years. KR will enter Fl. and give residents a whole new shopping experience.One major thing to include along with product selection is a lower price that will stretch your dollar. All i can say is thati feel sorry for the Fl shoppers till KR arrives

      Delete
    2. I completely agree with what you said about the way Kroger is going to enter Florida, starting from Jacksonville and moving down and west. That's also what I've thought since the beginning. I didn't know about the new DC in Georgia until you mentioned it. That definitely is a sign that Kroger is hinting at entering Florida again. I really believe there will be Kroger stores operating in Florida by the end of this decade. Publix needs a strong competitor to go against them in this near monopoly they have down here. Winn-Dixie still isn't much of a threat to Publix yet as they are still trying to pick up the pieces from their bankruptcy 9 years ago. Kroger will bring some positive change down here. Kroger failed here in the 80's because they were competing with 7 other (then) powerful chains at the time, and Kroger's Florida stores were limited to the Orlando area (although toward the end they picked up a few in the greater Tampa area). With the way Kroger has evolved since then, and with the introduction of Kroger Marketplace, I don't think they have any problems keeping a successful Florida division now.

      Delete
  3. We just moved here from GA and miss our KROGER soo much. The prices at Publix are outrageous. .and at least in GA if you went into a Publix you could see the difference in the customer service and the food selection. Here is just the normal, but extra expensive. Please KROGER come to south FL too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have lived in Sarasota Fl. since 1983 (KC Kid born and raised)...I miss Kroger so much.......Publix is the biggie here...Albertsons was a bit of a joke...prices were higher than Publix while quality and the feel of the stores, always felt cheap. When we first moved here we had Grand Union, Winn Dixie, Publix and a few A & P stores. Grand Union changed to Kash and Karry then SweetBay...never getting a good firm hold.....Winn Dixie is high and will always be that way. Food Lion was just nasty. What we have now is Publix and Walmart. Walmart is cheaper. Publix has the better tasting fruits and veggies. Walmart offers a better selection of northern products. We could certainly use a meat supplier that actually offered GOOD...TENDER and REASONABLE priced meats. I believe Kroger could give Publix a run for it's money.....Florida is Publix worn and ready for fresh new things....Of course, I am hoping Kroger jumps in both feet and parks itself first here in Sarasota....no reason to sneak up on Florida starting from Jax and Georgia line...just do it..!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Kroger first entered Florida in the 80's, they built their first store in the small town of Indian Harbour Beach in Brevard County, near Melbourne. There's a chance Kroger may just jump right into the state wherever they feel they market is the best for them. The entering from Jacksonville speculation really comes from the fact that Kroger has that Harris Teeter store in Fernandina Beach, about 20 miles north of Jacksonville. Kash n Karry/Sweetbay, Albertsons, and even still Winn-Dixie always had a hard time finding their place between Walmart and Publix, and Food Lion just never fit in to begin with. Their Florida stores were pretty much a flop from the beginning. Their buyout of Kash n Karry was the only think that kept them in Florida for as long as they did, otherwise they would have completely pulled out of here by the end of the 90's. Grand Union and A&P both began their fall from power in the supermarket industry by the late 80's as well. I also feel the need for some more variety in the supermarket industry here. Where I live, I'm pretty much surrounded by nothing but Publix. I've always heard really good things about Kroger, although I've never been to one personally yet.

      Delete
    2. looks like we will see kroger expanding into fl. sooner than we think

      Delete
  5. KR stock price on the way up. get in now and benefit

    ReplyDelete
  6. looks like KR will enter the windy city before rolling into Fl. bummer for Fl. it seems that KR is waiting on the completion of its new automated warehouse to move south. 4 years away

    ReplyDelete
  7. as expected kroger bought roundys to get the chicago stores. do not give up on the move south . it will come sooner than you think. atlanta dc will start moving groceries soon. massive dc that can handle several states

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still have a feeling Kroger will eventually try to come back to Florida, and that new distribution center is definitely a sign of a possible entrance (for some reason I'm thinking Kroger might do a natural expansion if they choose to enter Florida, rather than a complete buyout). I'm also starting to seriously believe that Albertsons may be interested in some kind of a Florida re-expansion as well, especially after watching some of the things they've done in the last year not just in Florida, but in other areas of the country. The next few years will be interesting to watch.

      Delete
  8. Will there be a krogers in Tampabay Fl area instead of albersons

    ReplyDelete
  9. kroger is waiting on winn dixie to make reasonable offer. they want to much for the upper fl. stores. sooner or later they will offer a fair price.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I hope this really happens. I moved from the midwest to Florida and can't stand the other two grocery store chains. Publix is too high and the selection is limited. Wynn Dixie barely has anything - and just recently dropped their prices. I typically have to go to Walmart and Publix to get the things I need and I still end up having to go to Walgreens, too, for some things. A Krogers Marketplace would be a dream come true! Once you are used to Krogers - and have that good, you don't want to have to go some place that doesn't even compare. KROGERS, if you are reading this, PLEASE come to Jacksonville - Mandarin NEEDS you!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Didn't KR have a Florida store in 2007? I thought I saw one around Daytona. Was I going crazy? I spent $$$ in it, but it was in Florida...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kroger hasn't had a presence in Daytona since 1988. However, a few former Kroger SupeRx Food and Drug stores (the ones with the rounded front) in the Daytona area became Food Lions, one of which lasted until 2012 when Food Lion pulled out of Florida (located at SR 40 and Riverside in Ormond Beach). More than likely, you were in a Food Lion that was in a former Kroger building.

      Delete