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Publix Super Markets is in aggressive growth mode, having purchased six southwest Florida shopping centers over the past year for $86 million and setting aside $1.3 billion in 2015 to buy additional centers, construct new stores and renovate others, according to a published report.
According to the Sarasota, Fla., Herald-Tribune, the grocer is investing a good chunk of its considerable cash assets on the likelihood that the Sunshine State's commercial real estate market will rebound, with recently acquired Publix-anchored centers in Tampa, Fort Myers and Miami. The article cited a report by New York-based commercial real estate brokerage Colliers International that found the grocer had purchased almost half of the Publix-anchored centers that sold during the first nine months of 2014 in Tampa Bay and southwest Florida.
A real estate expert explained to the Herald-Tribune that buying the properties was in Publix's interest, since it significantly lowers the company's occupancy costs over time, enables it to earn extra income from leasing out the smaller shop space and gives it the ability "to control [its] own street corners."
About 20 percent of Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix’s 1,098 stores are currently located on company-owned real estate, spokesman Brian West told the newspaper. The grocer recently reported healthy Q4 and full-year finances.
Last year, Publix also spent $1.3 billion to open 32 new stores and buy shopping centers.