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Sprouts Farmers Market puts produce in the center of its stores. It will open in Tampa next spring and is expanding rapidly.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Oct. 26, 201612:00 PM EST

Sprouts Farmers Market launches in Florida; Jacksonville a logical branch for organic food grocery chain

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Sprouts Farmers Market, a Phoenix-based natural and organic food grocery chain, is expanding into Florida, starting next year in Tampa.

Jacksonville could be on the radar for later.

That’s because the company, with 252 stores in 13 states, projects the U.S. market could support about 1,200 of its stores.

And of those, Sprouts thinks 400 could be supported in the initial 13 states — meaning 800 would go into the new markets.

Like Florida.

A month ago, Sprouts announced eight locations to open in the first quarter of 2017 in six states, including its first in Florida, choosing Carrollwood, near Tampa.

“At this time, no additional locations or expansion plans have been announced for the state,” said Diego Romero, corporate communications manager.

That could come soon. Sprouts said in September it wants to open 36 stores next year in 15 states. In addition to Florida, it is entering North Carolina.

Should Sprouts choose Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, it would enter a competitive market where stores focused on natural, organic and fresh foods have been adding locations.

• Whole Foods Market, with its first area store in Mandarin, will open at Jacksonville Beach.

• Earth Fare, which opened its first site at Atlantic North, will add a store in Mandarin.

• Fresh Market, with a store near Queen’s Harbour Yacht & Country Club and in Julington Creek, opened in Brooklyn near Downtown.

• Native Sun Natural Foods Market, a Jacksonville-based company, opened at Jacksonville Beach, adding a third store to its inaugural location near Mandarin and a second in Baymeadows.

• Trader Joe’s opened its first store in Jacksonville Beach and Lucky’s Market is opening Dec. 7 in Neptune Beach.

In addition, traditional grocer Publix Super Markets Inc. continues to renovate and expand its dozens of stores, while Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers is converting some Winn-Dixie Stores into its more price-conscious Harvey’s concept.

On the discount front, Walmart Neighborhood Market is adding another store, this one in Baymeadows, while the Aldi and Save-A-Lot chains also are opening new sites.

The big boxes are growing, too. Walmart recently opened another Supercenter in Southwest Jacksonville, right across Collins Road from where Costco will build a second area warehouse club.

BJ’s Wholesale Club and Super Target also sell groceries. Freshfields Farm set up its Jacksonville indoor farmer’s market concept in Southside, just off Interstate 95. And the Rowe’s IGA Supermarkets also operate in several neighborhoods.

The Shelby Report of the Southeast trade publication reports Walmart dominates in market share in North Florida and South Georgia.

However, Walmart’s 30.2 percent market share, from 81 stores, is closely followed by Publix’s 29.6 percent share from 110 stores.

Coming in third was Southeastern Grocers, which owns the Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Bi-Lo banners, with a 22.5 percent share from 132 stores.

Sprouts was looking at Jacksonville at least two years ago, but a local real estate executive said then the company decided to concentrate on other cities and would return to the area later.

The chain was founded in 2002 and has expanded rapidly. It opens stores from 28,000-30,000 square feet with what it calls a farmers market feel. Each employs 80 to 90 full- and part-time workers.

Its center store is dominated by fresh produce and bulk foods surrounded by other fresh, natural and organic products it markets as “healthy living for less.”

Jacksonville likely would offer locations of interest.

Sprouts is flexible in the type of building it uses, including new buildings or second-generation space, such as former office-supply or electronics stores.

It wants locations with a population of more than 100,000 within a 10-minute drive.

Its typical store requires an average cash investment of $3.1 million, comprising build-out of $2.6 million and inventory and pre-opening expenses of about $500,000.

It targets net sales of $12 million to $14 million during the first year after opening.

It says in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing the company’s value positioning allows it to serve a diverse customer base and provides “significant flexibility to enter new markets across a variety of socioeconomic areas, including markets with varying levels of fresh, natural and organic grocer penetration.”

Romero said Sprouts expanded into the Southeast in 2014 in Georgia, and then moved into Alabama and Tennessee. It is developing the Southeast with a strategy similar to one it used when entering the Texas market in 2005 and Colorado in 2008.

“We start with a cluster of stores and develop our regional supervision,” Romero said.

As Sprouts continues to grow in the Southeast and in new markets like Florida, he said, “We’ll determine the areas where there is the strongest demand for fresh, natural and organic food at great prices.”

Southeastern opens 2nd next-gen store

Southeastern Grocers opened a “next generation store” last week in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa, its second.

The Jacksonville-based company opened its first next-gen Winn-Dixie in February in Jacksonville along Baymeadows Road near Interstate 295. The stores are tailored to their communities.

They feature “The Kitchen,” “Café” and areas focused on produce, deli, the substation, butcher, bakery and more. The company called it a local evolution of the flagship Winn-Dixie concept that debuted in Jacksonville.

Lucky’s Market to open Dec. 7

Lucky’s Market announced this morning it will open its Neptune Beach store Dec. 7.

It will offer “Sip ‘n Stroll”  shopping for customers who want to buy cold-pressed nitro coffee, a $2 pint of beer or a $4 glass of wine to drink as they cruise the displays.

Bo Sharon, who founded Lucky’s Market in 2003 with his wife, Trish, said in a news release the Neptune Beach store will be stocked with local, seasonal and top-quality products.

The natural foods grocer is leasing space at 580 Atlantic Blvd. in the Neptune Beach Plaza. The 34,500-square-foot store will employ about 145 people.

The release said shoppers will find in-house cured and smoked bacon, house-made sausages, fresh seafood, local produce and a bakery.

The Natural Living department will carry natural remedies and mainstream medicines for common ailments, as well as local soaps and lotions, candles, diffusers, salt lamps and more.

Lucky’s Market in based in Boulder, Colo.

PGA Tour Superstore signs local lease

PGA Tour Superstore announced it signed three leases for new experiential golf retail stores, including its store in The Strand at Town Center.

It said it bought a former Sports Authority location to open in Arizona in January and is planning new stores in Hilton Head, S.C., to open in April and in Jacksonville later next year. It also will open next month in Woodland, Texas. That will be its 27th store.

The Jacksonville store will be its fourth in Florida after Delray Beach, Naples and Orlando.

PGA Tour Superstore said each store is staffed with PGA of America teaching professionals and houses up to 14 state-of-the-art swing simulators and hitting bays, and a putting green along with an in-house club-making and repair facility.

PGA Tour Superstore sells equipment, accessories and men’s, women’s and juniors’ apparel.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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