Publix Super Markets tops the list of privately owned grocery operators in the US. By emphasizing service and a family-friendly image over price, Publix has outgrown and outperformed its regional rivals. More than two-thirds of its 1,090 stores are in Florida, but it also operates in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina (a new market for the company). Publix makes some of its own bakery, deli, dairy goods, and fresh prepared foods at its own manufacturing plants in Florida and Georgia. Also, many stores house pharmacies and banks. Founder George Jenkins began offering stock to Publix employees in 1930. Employees own about 31% of Publix, which is still run by the Jenkins family.
In addition to more than 1,000 supermarkets, Publix operates eight distribution centers in Florida and one in Georgia. The company also operates two bakeries (Atlanta and Lakeland, Florida), three dairies (Deerfield Beach and Lakeland, Florida, and Lawrenceville, Georgia), three fresh foods processing plants (Deerfield Beach, Jacksonville, and Lakeland, Florida), and a printing services plant in Lakeland.
Sales and Marketing
Publix spent $217.5 million and $208.3 million on advertising in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Publix reported retail sales of $28.9 billion in 2013, an increase of 5% versus the prior year. The sales gain was driven by the addition of new supermarkets, and a 4% rise in same-store sales. Food price inflation and increased customer traffic helped drive same-store sales and reflects the improving economic climate in the regional supermarket operator's markets.
Net earnings as a percentage of sales were 5.7%, 5.6%, and 5.5% for 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. Indeed, Publix has logged steady sales and profit growth over the past four years.
Publix reported $668.5 million in capital expenditures in 2012, primarily for the opening of 22 new supermarkets and the remodeling of more than 100 existing stores.
Publix plans to open 32 supermarkets in 2014, including some in new markets like North Carolina. Indeed, the supermarket operator is doubling its presence in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area with the purchase of seven stores there from BI-LO. It opened its first new store in Charlotte in 2014. It also opened new stores in South Carolina in 2013.
Publix is facing increased competition from BI-LO Holding, which in recent years swallowed Winn-Dixie in 2012 and Sweetbay Supermarket in 2014. It's also squaring off against Harris-Teeter, now owned by Kroger, and supercenter giant Wal-Mart Stores in North Carolina. Kroger acquired Harris-Teeter to increase its presence in the Southeast, Publix's market.
To better focus on its core supermarket business, Publix sold its 14-store PIX convenience store chain to Circle K (owned by Canada's Couche-Tard) in late 2013, and its Crispers soup-salad-and-sandwich restaurant business in 2011. After adding more than 20 new supermarkets to its store count in 2012, the company plans to add another two dozen in 2013. To support its rapid store growth, Publix is building a nearly 1-million-square-foot distribution center near Orlando International Airport. Publix, which acquired the site in 2009, halted plans to build when the Florida economy tanked. It expects the new facility to be completed in late 2014.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Publix is buying up shopping centers that house its supermarkets. In October 2014, it acquired seven of the 18 shopping centers it anchors in the Tampa Bay area and southwest Florida.
The grocery chain's employees own about 31% of Publix Super Markets' stock through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan.