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    Publix Buys 49 Fla. Stores from Albertson's LLC

    The transaction is Publix’ largest ever, and earns it a diverse collection of formats.

    Leading southern grocer Publix Super Markets, Inc. said yesterday it has agreed to buy 49 Florida stores from Albertson’s LLC. The transaction, expected to close in September, encompasses 15 locations in north Florida, 30 in central Florida, and four in south Florida.

    The acquisition is the largest such deal in Publix history, spokeswoman Maria Brous told Progressive Grocer yesterday. She also noted that the deal nets Publix 49 different prototypes, so remodeling time would vary from store to store. Grand opening dates for all locations will depend on the scope of the remodels, she said.

    The acquisition also gets Publix into in Escambia County, with four stores in a new market area.

    “The demand for the high-quality service our associate owners provide gives us the opportunity to reinvest in these communities by acquiring additional sites for Publix stores,” said Ed Crenshaw, Publix c.e.o. “We continue to focus on being the premier food retailer in the areas in which we operate.”

    The deal will trim the Florida presence of Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s down to 44 stores. The chain said it intends to continue operating those units with the ongoing support of its distribution center in Plant City and division office in Lake Mary, Fla.

    “The leadership felt the sale was in the best long-term interest of the company,” an Albertsons spokeswoman told Progressive Grocer. She would not comment on whether or not the stores being sold were profitable.

    Publix said it would encourage affected Albertson’s employees who have “a passion for food and a commitment to customer service” to apply for employment with the store’s new ownership. The chain will hold job fairs for them in coming weeks, it said.

    Publix operates 936 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. It is privately owned by 142,000 employees, and had 2007 sales of $23 billion.

    Albertson’s LLC, a privately held company, operates more than 300 stores under the Albertsons banner in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas.

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