From The Albertsons Florida Blog Newsdesk:
They say 3rd time's the charm, right?
News broke yesterday from a few Cincinnati area news outlets that Kroger is very much looking into making a push into Florida. All of the online speculation has now leaked to almost every news station and business paper in Florida, creating a media frenzy, with most signs pointing to another attempt by Kroger to purchase Winn-Dixie to make their grand Florida debut, again.
Cincinnati's WCPO-9 News and the Cincinatti Business Courier were the first to begin dropping hints about Kroger wanting to enter a new market, however the Courier just announced that Kroger is willing to make another large purchase, hinting at what may happen with Winn-Dixie. Kroger recently purchased North Carolina based Harris Teeter in 2014, who has one Florida store in Fernandina Beach near the Georgia line. That purchase is what started most of these Kroger Florida rumors. Kroger has said in recent comments that if it had not been for their recent purchases of Harris Teeter and Vitacost.com, they would have entered a new market sooner. That new market Kroger has been hinting at for a while now will most likely be Florida.
Before we talk more about this new attempt by Kroger to purchase Winn-Dixie, let's look at the last two attempts. Kroger's first attempt with purchasing stores from Winn-Dixie was in 2000, when they tried to do a partial buyout of Winn-Dixie by purchasing all of their stores (72 at the time) in Texas and Oklahoma, two of Winn-Dixie's weaker markets at the time. That purchase was blocked by the FTC. Then, after Winn-Dixie's crippling 2005 bankruptcy, Kroger once again tried to make a move to buy Winn-Dixie, this time for the whole chain. That deal later fell apart as Winn-Dixie started to emerge out of bankruptcy.
Now here we are in 2015. Winn-Dixie has 485 stores at the moment, with most of them in Florida. Kroger's purchase would also scoop up Bi-Lo and their 300 stores in the Carolinas. Winn-Dixie is back to more store closings at the moment, with stores in Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, and Lake Placid all closing as we begin the new year. Not to mention the 23 stores Winn-Dixie shed back in October. Winn-Dixie, although on a partial remodeling kick with some stores, just doesn't have enough money or backing to do much about really competing with Publix, Walmart, and the new specialty grocers that have been entering Florida recently. Winn-Dixie is still in a bad place ten years after the bankruptcy, and a buyout by Kroger can really shake things up.
Nothing is official yet, and both Kroger and Winn-Dixie are keeping things quiet. Big things are in store for the Florida supermarket scene in in 2015, and Kroger will most likely be a major part of that. If this Kroger/Winn-Dixie deal does go through, it is more than likely that the Winn-Dixie name will be retired in favor of the stronger Kroger banner. With much stronger Kroger in charge, Winn-Dixie's aging store base would get a major and much needed overhaul, something Kroger will have no problem providing chainwide, as Kroger is no stranger to a remodel rampage.
|An aging Winn-Dixie store that's barely been touched since the 80's|
Anyway, until next time,
The Albertsons Florida Blogger