Publix Super Markets moved foward with plans to buy seven Bi-Lo stores one of which is in Lake Wylie.
The locations are in Charlotte, Matthews, Lake Wylie, Huntersville and Rock Hill and will be remodeled and opened as Publix stores in the coming months.
Just a year ago, Publix had no stores open in the Charlotte region. Now, with the addition of Bi-Lo’s stores – as well as new Publix locations being built in Ballantyne, South End, Mint Hill and Cornelius – Publix will soon have 13 area stores open or in development.
Florida-based Publix said it plans to keep expanding in North Carolina.
“Publix has a strong financial foundation that allows us to aggressively grow throughout existing markets and our new Charlotte Division,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw, in a statement. The company is also building stores in Cary, Asheville and Winston-Salem as it continues its push into North Carolina.
Financial terms of the Bi-Lo deal, expected to close next month, weren’t disclosed. Publix said that in addition to the stores, the purchase also includes “heavy equipment.”
Supermarket analyst David Livingston of Wisconsin said consumers used to shopping at Bi-Lo could see higher prices under Publix. But, he said, they could also see a more upscale shopping experience.
“Everyone else needs to pick up their game to stay in it,” Livingston said.
In any case, he said Wal-Mart offers a powerful check on how high prices can go. “Wal-Mart will keep them honest,” he said.
Lou Pantusco, an economics professor at Winthrop University, said he doubted there would be much change in grocery prices, because Publix’s size gives its advantages over Bi-Lo. “They can get deeper discounts from their suppliers,” he said.
Harris Teeter, meanwhile, is in the process of being acquired by the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. for more than $2.4 billion. The company said competitive pressure from rivals such as Publix contributed to its decision to sell.
Jenkins said that while the addition of seven Publix stores to the area puts more competitive pressure on Harris Teeter, none of the new stores are in the affluent Charlotte neighborhoods where Harris Teeter remains firmly established.