What is in this article?:
“We’ve long been asked by our customers and associates when we’d be coming to North Carolina. We are in a good financial position to continue our growth, and so when an opportunity presented itself, it made sense for us.”
— Maria Brous, spokeswoman, Publix
CHARLOTTE — In a move that had been anticipated for months, Publix Super Markets last week confirmed its intentions to invade North Carolina, revealing plans to build its first store in Ballantyne and a Charlotte-based division for further growth in the Tar Heel State.
The announcement foretells a battle between Publix and local market share leader Harris Teeter, two Southern food-retailing icons with similar reputations for service and quality. Those two retailers last battled more than a decade ago in Atlanta, ending in 2001 when Harris Teeter bowed out of the market and concentrated its expansion to Northern markets.
“This is the flip side of the Atlanta coin, in my opinion. I know Publix wants to expand, but to go north they’ve got to go through Charlotte, and that’s going to take a lot of effort,” John Batanides, managing director of Charlotte commercial real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, told SN last week. “I’m not sure I’d want to go up against Harris Teeter in the Charlotte market. They’re the complete hometown favorite.”
Harris Teeter in recent months has been fortifying its position in Charlotte, most notably as a result of an asset swap earlier this year with Lowes Foods giving Harris Teeter 10 new metro Charlotte locations in exchange for six of its stores in outlying markets. Last week, Harris Teeter announced that two of the acquired Lowes locations would take on a new banner, 201central, that will be positioned as a specialty store built around extensive beer and wine selections, catering and party planning.
Read more: Publix Makes Knoxville Debut
“This is a market that has been controlled predominately on the high end by Harris Teeter. They’ve had competitive forces from the Earth Fares and Lowes Foods over the years but they’ve pretty much been able to hold their own and gain ground where they can,” Andrew Jenkins, managing director at Karnes Research Co., a Charlotte-based real estate data firm, told SN.
Industry watchers had long anticipated Publix would expand into North Carolina, particularly after the retailer made plans to open two South Carolina stores on the outskirts of Charlotte this year. The new Ballantyne store, which Publix said has a tentative opening date early in 2014, will be located around six miles from the Publix store in Indian Land, S.C., set to open next month. The Ballantyne store will also be virtually surrounded by Harris Teeter outlets, including stores less than a mile away to the north and south along a stretch of Johnston Road.