LAKELAND, Fla. -- Publix has purchased a modern pie-production plant in Atlanta to supply the company's in-store bakeries with a wide assortment of dessert pies.
The acquisition coincides with the chain's expansion north and west of its mid-Florida stronghold.
The retailer purchased the 115,000-square-foot plant and equipment from Country Home Bakers, a Shelton, Conn.-based manufacturer of frozen pies, cakes and cookies. Country Home Bakers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, and has been selling assets in various cities as part of its reorganization.
Officials with Publix said they expect to start operating the plant in December, and have it running at full production after the first of the year. The facility will produce several varieties of pies, including a full line of fruit, custard and dessert pies. Publix has another bakery processing plant here in its headquarters city.
"It's my understanding they needed to upgrade from what they had at Lakeland," said Judy Borck, chief executive officer and president of Country Home Bakers. "In terms of pie production, it gives them a lot more capacity.
"It's fully equipped to handle all varieties of pies," she added. "I imagine they'll utilize it that way. I don't think they'll need to remodel. It's in pretty good shape."
Officials from Publix had their eyes on the plant for some time, and were among several parties that expressed an interest in it, Borck said. Country Home Bakers expanded and upgraded the facility in 2001.
The facility is strategically located in one of the retailer's most important markets outside of its Florida home base.
Publix entered the Atlanta market 11 years ago, and last year opened a handful of stores in Nashville, Tenn., a brand-new and growing market for the company. Known for its signature, top-notch ISBs, Publix operates more than 760 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.