Publix Exits from Convenience Stores
Supermarket chain sells its 14 small-format stores in departure from channel
LAKELAND, Fla. -- In a decision to leave the convenience store business, Publix Super Markets Inc. announced yesterday its decision to sell PIX, the fuel and c-store concept it began testing in 2001, as reported in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash.
The supermarket chain sold 13 of the sites to Circle K, a wholly owned subsidiary of Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, of which 11 are located in Florida and two in Georgia. The other store, located in Tennessee, went to Max Arnold & Sons, a family-owned company located in Hopkinsville, Ky.
“We consistently evaluate our business, including the products and services we choose to offer our customers,” said Ed Crenshaw, CEO for Publix, in a statement. “The sale of PIX locations gives us the ability to remain passionately focused on our core business, our customers and the products and services we offer within our grocery retail environment.”
Echoing Crenshaw’s words, Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix, told CSP Daily News, “We are always evaluating our business and decided to focus on growing our retail environment inside the stores in that [supermarket] footprint.”
Since 2001, Publix edged slowly into the c-store business, basically building two PIX stores a year with a growth spurt in 2008 with five sites. Its last site was built in 2010.
“It’s like sticking your toe in the water and not knowing if you really want to get in,” said consultant Jim Fisher, CEO, IMST Corp., Houston. “I thought Publix would make a big play for it because of its position and strong penetration in the states they’re in.”
Few supermarket chains have succeeded with the c-store format, Fisher noted, naming as examples Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle and its Get-Go sites along with West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee and Cincinnati-based Kroger with their fuel and c-store formats.
“It’s also very difficult to find sites they could retrofit to where the fuel didn’t create conflict with the parking for the existing supermarket,” Fisher said. “Now, moving forward with new stores, that’s a wholly different matter. In that case, you can acquire the land you need.”