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As Southeast competition perks up, Publix adds Starbucks

As Southeast competition perks up, Publix adds Starbucks

Publix Super Markets will be testing Starbucks cafes in select stores in an effort to enhance its shopping experience, a spokeswoman told SN Thursday.

The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer said that stores in Tampa and Winter Park, Fla., and in Winston-Salem, N.C., will be adding Starbucks cafes shortly, but the company said the time frame for those openings has not been determined.

"At Publix, we are always looking for new opportunities to enhance our customers’ shopping experience by providing the products and services they desire," spokeswoman Maria Brous said. "Like Publix, Starbucks is committed to serving the finest products and creating an exceptional customer experience and we believe this collaboration is a perfect fit."

Although co-located branded coffee stations have been common in supermarkets for more than a decade, the trend has been slow to arrive at Publix. Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director at Strategic Resource Group, New York, said the additions now — along with an evolution of fresh departments like delis that are common at the retailer's newer locations — indicates the chain has become "less complacent" amid strengthening competition in the Southeast.

"I see this as an indication that Publix is concerned as the level of competition has increased," Flickinger told SN. "Publix had the South to itself for a long time, but they are facing all-pro and hall of fame competition today between Harris Teeter and Publix, and Wegmans moving South. Even in Florida, which has been underdeveloped in food retail has seen a lot of expansion in recent years from companies like Wal-Mart."

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