PUBLIX TO ADD FUEL CENTERS, C-STORES AT FOUR FLORIDA UNITS

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets here said it is entering the gasoline business, with plans to open four gas-pumping convenience stores in Florida.any declined to comment on any details surrounding the project, but published reports have said the units will range from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet and will sell groceries.The company has gone on record saying it is confident that the smaller units

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix Super Markets here said it is entering the gasoline business, with plans to open four gas-pumping convenience stores in Florida.

any declined to comment on any details surrounding the project, but published reports have said the units will range from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet and will sell groceries.

The company has gone on record saying it is confident that the smaller units will boost sales, rather than cannibalize its supermarket business.

Last year, Publix almost entered the fuel business. The company announced plans to open a gas station in one of its Tampa-area store parking lots in 2000, but ultimately abandoned the project, claiming parking needs outweighed those of a fuel center.

Publix already has some competition in the fuel sector, with Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla., operating two gas-pumping supermarkets in Bushnell, Fla., and Jacksonville.

A spokesman for Winn-Dixie declined to comment whether the company would increase the number of fuel centers it operates in light of Publix's announcement.