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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 27, 202011:20 PM EST

Publix Super Markets confirms it intends to buy the Neptune Beach Lucky’s lease

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With a full-size supermarket nearby, Publix might want to open its GreenWise Market concept.

Publix Super Markets Inc. confirmed late Jan. 27 that it intends to buy the Lucky’s Market lease in Neptune Beach, raising the possibility that it will bring its GreenWise Market concept to Duval County.

“I can confirm that we are under contract to purchase five Lucky's leases with locations in Clermont, Naples, Neptune Beach, Orlando and Ormond Beach. We are currently in the due diligence process,” said Maria Brous, director of communications with Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets Inc.

The Lucky’s Market at 580 Atlantic Blvd. is east of the full-line Publix supermarket at 630 Atlantic Blvd.

Publix has been expanding its GreenWise natural and organics market banner and has two locations identified in St. Johns County.

Brous said no additional details are available about Publix’s plans for the Lucky’s location in Neptune Beach.

Lucky’s Markets average in the 30,000-35,000-square-foot range while GreenWise is about 25,000 square feet.

Lucky's Market announced Jan. 27 that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed agreements with Aldi and Publix Super Markets Inc. to acquire 11 of its locations. 

Lucky’s said discount food store Aldi will take five of Lucky's leased properties and purchase one that Lucky's owns. It said Publix will take five leased locations.

Lucky's did not say which properties Aldi and Publix will acquire.

Dan Gavin, Aldi U.S., vice president of national real estate, issued a statement that it is negotiating to buy several Lucky’s locations in Florida but did not say which ones.

“We can confirm ALDI is in negotiations to acquire several Lucky’s Market locations in Florida. Among other innovative real estate strategies, site acquisitions are an important part of our growth efforts. We are pleased to continue to invest in Florida,” he said.,

“We opened our first ALDI stores in the Sunshine State in 2008 and now operate two distribution centers and 144 store locations, with plans to open as many as 20 more stores in Florida this year.”

Gavin said Aldi is on track to become the third-largest U.S. grocery retailer by store count by 2022.

Niwot, Colorado-based Lucky's Market is closing 32 of its 39 natural foods stores, including two it leases in Northeast Florida in Neptune Beach and Oakleaf.

Aldi has been expanding in Florida and has 12 Northeast Florida sites opened or proposed, including in Oakleaf.

Publix operates 56 stores in the Northeast Florida market.

In St. Johns County, Publix announced it would open GreenWise stores in Nocatee, near an existing Publix supermarket, and in the Shoppes at World Commerce Center.

Both are about 25,150 square feet.

GreenWise is the specialty, natural and organic store brand of Publix Super Markets Inc. and has been opening free-standing stores.

The seven Lucky's Markets that will remain open comprise the Melbourne store in Florida; two in Colorado; two in Ohio; and one each in Michigan and Missouri.

Lucky's said it is running sales at the 32 locations that it will close in the coming weeks. The closing sales are 25% off.

Lucky's said the asset purchase agreements are subject to court approval and an overbidding process. It filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

The company retained the PJ Solomon investment bank to assist it in the sale of company assets.

Lucky's said that at the time of the Chapter 11 filing, it had sufficient cash on hand and the continued ability to meet its financial obligations, including those to its employees, as well as to vendors for the continued supply of product to its operating locations.

In addition to PJ Solomon as its investment banker, Lucky's said the Polsinelli firm is serving as the company's legal counsel and Alvarez & Marsal is serving as the restructuring adviser.

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