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    Publix to Lose Bank of America Branches in Florida Units

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets, Inc., based here, will no longer offer Bank of America in-store branches in Florida. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America Corp. (BofA) said yesterday that it plans to close the 82 branches inside Publix units over the next 24 months.

    LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets, Inc., based here, will no longer offer Bank of America in-store branches in Florida. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America Corp. (BofA) said yesterday that it plans to close the 82 branches inside Publix units over the next 24 months.

    Maria Brous, Publix director of media and community relations, said in a statement, "We realize business strategies change over time, and understand [BofA's] decision to close the in-store banks."

    Brous told Progressive Grocer that Publix had no current plans to replace the closing branches with any other bank or businesses. "The square footage will become part of the stores," she explained, "and be utilized for merchandising space."

    She also noted that Publix has BofA branches only in its Florida locations; the grocer's Atlanta-ara stores offer SunTrust Bank branches.

    The bank and Publix have had an in-store partnership for 10 years. James Jackson, BofA's division executive for the southeastern United States, added that the bank "will continue to serve Publix through our corporate banking relationship."

    For its part, BofA said it is renovating 185 banking centers across the state, opening 35 new banking centers, upgrading 200 ATMs, and opening 40 new remote ATM centers in the state. The banker currently has 733 banking centers and over 1,400 ATMs in Florida.

    The banker said its customers at Publix branches will start receiving notification of the change within the next few weeks, and will be directed to the nearest BofA banking center, based on where they live.

    Publix has 876 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. It had 2005 sales of $20.6 billion.

    In other news, Publix declared an annual cash dividend on its common stock of is $1.00 per share, up from 70 cents per share in 2005. The dividend will be paid on June 1, 2006, to stockholders of record as of the close of business April 21, 2006.

    Publix stock is currently priced at $80.50 per share. The chain's stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

    Publix is owned and operated by its 135,000 employees.

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