Publix Super Markets, Inc., commonly known as Publix, is an employee-owned, American supermarket chain headquartered in Lakeland, Florida. Founded in 1930 by George W. Jenkins, Publix is a private corporation that is wholly owned by present and past employees. It is considered the largest employee-owned company in the world. Publix operates throughout the Southeastern United States, with locations in Florida (779), Georgia (186), Alabama (65), South Carolina (58), Tennessee (41), North Carolina (30), and Virginia (8).
Publix stands as one of the largest U.S. regional grocery chains. Locations are found as far north as Virginia, and as far south as Key West, Florida, while the westernmost location is in Mobile, Alabama. Today, the state of Florida still has the largest number of stores, with 779, two-thirds of the outlets. Publix employs almost 190,000 people at its 1,167 (as of January 2018) retail locations, cooking schools, corporate offices, 9 grocery distribution centers, and 11 manufacturing facilities. The manufacturing facilities produce its dairy, deli, bakery, and other food products.
Publix is currently ranked No. 21 on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For 2017, up from No. 67 in 2016, and was ranked No. 8 on Forbes‘ 2015 list of America’s Largest Private Companies and is the largest in Florida. The company’s 2015 sales totaled US$32.4 billion, with profits of $1.97 billion, ranking No. 87 on Fortune magazine’s Fortune 500 list of U.S. companies for 2016. Supermarket News ranked Publix No. 5 in the 2014 “Top 75 North American Food Retailers” based on fiscal year sales. Based on 2014 revenue, Publix is the thirteenth-largest U.S. retailer and thirty-fifth in the world. The company’s stock price is adjusted quarterly; as of November 1, 2017, it is $36.85 per share. Stock is only available for purchase by eligible active employees and non-employee members of its Board of Directors.
George Jenkins opened the first Publix market in Winter Haven, Florida, on September 6, 1930 – a 27 ft by 65 ft building at 199 West Central Avenue. In 1934, that store made $120,000 in sales. In 1935, he opened a second market, the Economy Food Store, also in Winter Haven. Despite the Great Depression, his stores were financially successful.
In 1940, Jenkins, affectionately called “Mr. George” by his employees, mortgaged an orange grove to build Florida’s first supermarket. His “food palace” had piped-in music, air conditioning, cold cases for frozen and refrigerated items, in-store donut and flower shops, and electric-eye automatic doors. During World War II, material shortages prevented him from building additional stores. In 1945, Jenkins purchased the 19-store All American chain of food stores and converted them into Publix Super Markets.
In 1951, Publix moved its headquarters from Winter Haven to Lakeland, Florida, and built its first distribution warehouse there. At the same time, they began to close the All American stores, replacing them with Publix markets. In 1956, Publix achieved $50 million in sales, and $1 million in profit. In 1957, the donut shop in each store was expanded into a full-service bakery.
By 1959, Publix was the dominant supermarket chain in Central Florida, and began expansion to South Florida. In 1963, the company built a distribution center in Miami, and began providing deli services. In 1970, sales surpassed $500 million; they reached $1 billion in 1974, when the chain expanded to include Jacksonville, Florida.
In 1982, the company launched the Presto! ATM network; it soon installed ATMs in every Publix. Sales exceeded $5 billion in 1989.
In 1983, Carol Jenkins Barnett joined the Publix Board of Directors and served in that role until 2016. During her time at Publix, the company grew into the largest supermarket chain in Florida, expanded into five other states, and recorded $32.5 billion in sales in 2015.
Publix Super Markets bought 49 Florida stores from Albertsons. The deal was announced on June 9, 2008, and was completed on September 9, 2008. It included 15 locations in North Florida, 30 in Central Florida, and four in South Florida. The sale allowed Publix to operate four stores in a new market area for the company, Escambia County, Florida (the Pensacola area).
On February 5, 2009, Publix opened its 1,000th store in St. Augustine, Florida, allowing the company to become one of only five U.S. grocery retailers to operate that many stores. The St. Augustine store is among Publix’s first stores designed to be energy-efficient. The store includes motion sensor lights throughout the store, including on the freezer doors, and an overhead light system that can be controlled by each department.
The first Publix outside Florida opened in Savannah, Georgia, in 1991; distribution and manufacturing facilities in Dacula, Georgia (a northeastern suburb of Atlanta) soon followed, as it began to expand into metro Atlanta in 1993. Publix further expanded into South Carolina (1993), Alabama (1996), Tennessee (2002), North Carolina (2014) and Virginia (2017).
In 2011, Publix announced it was expanding into North Carolina, initially by opening stores in the Charlotte metropolitan area, and later announced construction of a new store in Asheville. The first Charlotte-area Publix stores (on the South Carolina side of the metropolitan area, opened in 2012); the first North Carolina Publix store opened in Ballantyne in 2014. Concurrently, Publix purchased seven Charlotte-area locations from competitor BI-LO stores. Publix completed the purchase of property in Boone, North Carolina on November 20, 2015 with plans to open in 2017.
In February 2016, Publix announced their entry into the Virginia market, with the signing of two store leases, the first in Bristol scheduled to open in 2017 and the second in metropolitan Richmond scheduled for 2018. In July 2016, it was announced that Publix had entered into a purchase agreement with Ahold and Delhaize Group for 10 Martin’s Food Markets locations in the Richmond market as part of the divestiture of stores to gain clearance from the Federal Trade Commission for the impending Ahold/Delhaize merger.
In April 2016, Ed Crenshaw, grandson of founder George Jenkins, retired from his position as CEO. President Todd Jones, a 36-year Publix veteran whose first job was as a Front Service Clerk (bagger), has taken on Ed’s responsibilities as CEO, marking the first time that someone outside the Jenkins family is in charge of the company. Ed Crenshaw will remain with Publix as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Each store provides specific products and services in its grocery, deli, bakery, produce, floral, meat, and seafood departments. Some stores have valet parking, cafés, sushi bars, pharmacy departments, and/or a liquor store.
Along with this, Publix provides a comprehensive “special order” service. Irregularly-stocked or rare items from almost all departments, even some products carried only by Publix’s competitors, can be ordered through this service. This service includes some products that are normally only found at health food stores, including organic meats, fruits, and vegetables, in addition to vegetarian and vegan products waterproof sports bag; hypoallergenic foods, and other specialty food items. This service can be used at any Publix customer service counter.
The customer service counter also provides check cashing, money orders, Western Union services, Rug Doctor rentals, and lottery tickets. Some stores also provide DVD rental services. In December 2005, Publix discontinued its photo processing service, replacing it with an exclusively online, or mail-order service via the Snapfish program. The Snapfish agreement has since been terminated, and Publix no longer offers photo services.
An addition to its stores is its Aprons (formerly stylized with an apostrophe, i.e. “Apron’s”) cooking demonstrations, customers are encouraged to sample easy-to-make, nutritious dishes prepared at in-store kiosks and take a recipe card with them. All recipes are developed in-house, using easy-to-prepare or prepackaged ingredients, often available at the Aprons kiosk.
Publix, in 2005, introduced its Apron’s Make-Ahead Meals concept, where customers could purchase six, eight, or twelve meals that they could assemble in-store. For an extra charge, an Apron’s associate would prepare and assemble the meals. These were standalone stores located in Jacksonville and Lithia, Florida. In summer 2009, Publix closed both Make-Ahead Meals locations citing lack of customer interest.
Publix operates 11 cooking schools under the Aprons name. These schools are located in Boca Raton, Jacksonville, Orlando, Winter Park, Plantation, Sarasota, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Lakeland, Florida, Richmond, Virginia, and Alpharetta, Georgia. Classes are geared toward all cooks wanting to expand their repertoire and feature renowned chefs, authors, and cooking celebrities, as well as experienced cooking instructors. The classes are designed to teach skills including basic techniques and wine pairing. Publix also offers classes for children ages 8 to 12, with separate classes for 13- to 18-year-olds, and adults.
GreenWise Market is a concept the company introduced in response to the increase in the number and profitability of health food stores. GreenWise Markets were created to increase awareness of nutrition; it focuses on organic and natural items. These stores are similar to the Whole Foods Market chain. GreenWise Markets is an expansion of a concept that began in the 2000s where most regular Publix stores featured a dedicated section for GreenWise products. In addition to organic and traditional products, GreenWise Markets include salad and hot bars. The first six stores were set to be in Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Vero Beach, Tampa, Naples, and Coral Springs, Florida.
The first GreenWise Market opened on September 27, 2007 in Palm Beach Gardens. The second Publix GreenWise Market opened in Boca Raton on May 29, 2008, located in Boca Village Square. The third Publix GreenWise Market opened November 6, 2008, in Tampa’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
From 2008 to 2016, the company focused on a “hybrid” concept instead, integrating the GreenWise concept into traditional Publix stores. Approximately half of locations built since 2008 are considered hybrid stores.
In 2017, the company announced they would resume building standalone GreenWise locations, the first of which will be near the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, opening in 2018.
Publix operates seven stores, branded “Publix Sabor” (sabor is Spanish for “flavor”), which cater to Hispanic Americans living in Florida and offer products for Hispanics. Located in Miami-Dade County in Greater Miami, the seven themed stores are spread between Miami and Hialeah. Two other Publix Sabor locations in Kissimmee and Lake Worth have since been closed and replaced by newly built locations or merged with existing stores that are not part of the Sabor sub-brand.
Publix Sabor locations have bilingual English-Spanish employees, open seating cafés, and a wider selection of prepared foods from the deli and bakery catering to Hispanic flavors. Publix offers cafés and hot foods because many Hispanic Americans grew up in foreign cities which had open public squares where people socialize and eat.
The first Publix in-store pharmacy was opened on October 30, 1986, in Altamonte Springs, Florida. By 1995, one-third of Publix stores had a pharmacy and today, approximately 90% of Publix stores include a pharmacy. Publix Pharmacies consistently ranked number one for customer satisfaction in supermarket pharmacies in several surveys conducted by independent research companies.
On July 14, 2016, the company announced it had opened its 1,000th pharmacy in Arcadia, Florida.
Publix announced in August 2007, that it would offer several types of antibiotics free to its customers. Customers must have a prescription; they are given a maximum of a two-week supply. Several medical professionals expressed concerns that this could contribute to an overuse of antibiotics which leads to antibiotic resistance, a serious public health concern. These medications include:
These antibiotics are being offered to customers regardless of their prescription insurance provider. Doxycycline Hyclate was removed from the list because of cost increases. In May 2014, Cephalexin was removed from the list due to cost increases.
In March 2010, Publix announced the launch of another free prescription, Metformin for Type II Diabetes, the generic of Glucophage. Publix provides the medication in 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1,000 mg strengths. The only restriction is a 90-day supply or up to 360 500-mg, 270 850-mg, or 225 1000-mg tablets meat pounder substitute, but refills are not limited.
In August 2011, Publix began offering Lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor that is used to prevent, treat, or improve symptoms of high blood pressure, certain heart conditions, diabetes, and certain chronic kidney conditions, as another free prescription. Customers can get a 90-day supply of this prescription for free at any Publix Pharmacy, up to a maximum of 180 tablets. Lisinopril-HCTZ combination products are excluded.
In May 2014, Publix began offering Amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain (angina) as a free medication. Customers can get a 90-day supply of this medication (up to 180 2.5-mg or 5-mg tablets, or 90 10-mg tablets) free of charge.
Montelukast, a medicine used for the treatment of allergies and asthma, was added to the free medication program in February 2017. 90-day supplies of 4- or 5-mg chewable tablets for children, or 10-mg oral tablets for adults, are available with a doctor’s prescription.
Publix also offers a wide variety of vaccinations, including free flu shots for employees and discounted flu shots for their immediate family members.
In early 2006, Publix and The Little Clinic signed an exclusive agreement to open medical clinics within Publix stores. The first clinics were opened in the Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa markets in the first half of 2006. The Little Clinic health-care centers were staffed by nurse practitioners who can write prescriptions, provide diagnosis and treatment of common ailments and minor injuries, and offer wellness care like physicals, screenings, and vaccinations. Effective May 9, 2011, Publix closed the Little Clinics in its stores in order to focus on its core pharmacy and grocery business.
Publix and BayCare Health System announced a collaboration to provide telehealth and telemedicine services at specialized pharmacies in four Tampa Bay-area counties in March 2017. Pharmacies participating in the program have private rooms for patients to speak with a board-certified physician in BayCare’s network via teleconferencing, plus diagnostic tools that can be used by the patient, with and without assistance from pharmacy staff. Doctors will be able to perform basic exams and write prescriptions for minor illnesses and conditions for patients.
With the launch of PublixDirect on September 24, 2001, Publix entered the online grocery business, in hopes of serving the Southeastern U.S. The slogan used was “Online Shopping, Home Delivery.” This occurred during the dot-com crash, alongside competitor Webvan’s well-publicized failure. Publix found that demand for online grocery shopping in the Miami testing area was not as great as the company expected, and shut down PublixDirect on August 23, 2003.
After PublixDirect, Publix made a second attempt in 2010 at e-commerce with the introduction of Publix Curbside. Customers had the ability to browse and purchase groceries online, then drive to a participating location where an associate will have selected their items and would bring them out to the buyer’s vehicle. Announced as a pilot program with locations in the Atlanta area and Tampa, the program was ended in January 2012 after its performance reportedly did not meet expectations.
The company later resurrected its curbside concept, this time using its delivery partner, Instacart, to manage the online ordering portion of the service. Currently in a trial stage, the second iteration of Publix Curbside began with two pilot locations in the greater Tampa area in September 2017, and is expected to expand to the greater Atlanta area by the end of the year.
In July 2016, Publix announced another pilot program with Instacart to offer online shopping and delivery services in the greater Miami area. Customers in 37 ZIP codes from Hallandale Beach to South Miami are able to participate in the program. Not all products available at stores, such as tobacco, gift cards, prescriptions, and age-restricted items, are able to be delivered by the service. Beer and wine can be delivered in Florida and North Carolina only.
As of February 2017, Instacart deliveries from Publix are available in the metro areas of Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Raleigh, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Nashville, as determined by ZIP code.
Later in 2017, Publix announced its intent to expand its delivery program, and expects to have the service available from 90 percent of stores by the end of the year.
In response to other grocery stores’ aggressive discounting across the Florida market, Publix opened its first Food World store in September 1970 in Orlando, Florida. The store marked the first under the Food World banner for Publix and would become the first of 22 more of the type.
In November 1977, in Lakeland, Florida, Publix opened the Lake Miriam Food World, which, at 57,000 sq. ft., was its largest store in the company and also the largest store in the southeast. The store was the company’s first to feature barcode scanners.
The brand was retired in 1985 because the stores were unable to turn a profit for Publix or give workers a percentage of their store’s profits.
Starting in 2001, Publix operated 14 PIX (stylized in all-capitals) gasoline-convenience stores in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. Locations were limited during the trial period of the concept. In 2014, all Florida and Georgia locations were sold to Circle K, the sole Tennessee location was sold to another entity, and the concept was discontinued. The locations were converted to other brands, as Publix retains the rights to “PIX.”
In 2002, Publix invested in the Lakeland-based restaurant chain Crispers, which concentrates on health-conscious fare. It increased its stake in 2004 before purchasing the remainder of the company in 2007. In May 2011, Publix announced it had sold the Crispers chain to Healthy Food Concepts LLC. The stores had not performed well during the downturn and in recent years Publix closed several units, leaving the chain with 36 stores when the sale was announced.
Publix tested the market response to liquor stores in the late 1980s, but closed its test sites in 1989. It re-entered the liquor sales market again in 2003 and has met with success since. The liquor store is in an area accessed via a separate entrance as required by local laws, modeled after many other grocery chains.
156 locations in the Atlanta, Charlotte, and Jacksonville divisions offered Ticketmaster services in the early 2000s. In 2015, a decision was made to stop offering this service, and Publix began a year-long withdrawal from the program. The final Publix-Ticketmaster location was closed on May 3, 2016.
In September 2010, Publix reported it started adding Blockbuster DVD rental kiosks to its stores, with the movie rentals starting at $1 per day. In 2010, Publix completed its rollout of Blockbuster Express kiosks to its stores.
In 2012, NCR sold its entertainment division, which includes the Blockbuster Express kiosks, to Coinstar, the owner of the Redbox DVD rental kiosks. Blockbuster Express machines were replaced with Redbox machines in most stores by the end of 2012.
In December 2016, Publix opened its first in-store Starbucks location in the Orlando area, with five more opening throughout 2017. Dozens of additional Starbucks locations could be added, depending on the success of the pilot project.
Presto! is an automated teller machine (ATM) network owned and operated by Publix Super Markets. There are over 1,100 Presto! ATMs in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, all located at Publix retail stores. This network includes point of sale (POS) capabilities, meaning that debit, credit, electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cash, or EBT food stamp cards can be used to make purchases at any Publix store.
Fees are charged for transactions and inquiries made on any card not in the Presto! network.
Some of the highest-volume Presto! network members are:
The Publix website offers an alphabetical listing of the more than 2,000 financial institutions that are members of the Presto thermos drink bottle! network.
Publix is organized into departments grouped based on similar skills, expertise, work activities, and resource use, such as human resources, marketing, public affairs, manufacturing, and distribution. All the departments have specific resources that help it reach the organizational task, and each department only deals with their specific area and problems. Stores are made up of seven departments (Customer Service, Grocery, Meat, Produce, Deli, Bakery, Pharmacy) and are run by a department manager or assistant manager of that department. All departments are overseen by a Store Manager and Assistant Store Manager. When both of these managers are absent, operations are left to a Manager in Charge, typically a department manager or assistant department manager from Customer Service or Grocery.
The company, founded in 1930, has never had a layoff. It has a tuition reimbursement program originally designed for degree-seeking students, which has also become available to those taking individual courses or technical training, including online courses. The program is available to all Publix associates who work an average of 10 hours per week for six months.
In 1995 Publix was sued “for sex discrimination in job assignments, promotions and allocation of hours” and settled for $81.5 million in 1997. Publix had claimed that the suit was simply an effort by the United Food and Commercial Workers to unionize the company, but the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and required Publix to “correct some of its statements.”
Publix announced that effective January 1, 2015, health coverage would be available to same-sex couples regardless of place of marriage, as long as they are legally married.
Publix regularly conducts charity drives raising money and food for such charities as Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Children’s Miracle Network, United Way, as well as various local food banks and soup kitchens such as Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen and Second Harvest North Florida.
Publix stock is private and restricted: it can only be purchased by current employees or board members, and cannot be sold to anyone without first being offered back to Publix for repurchase.
Stock is offered to associates through three programs: an ESOP “PROFIT” plan, 401(k) “SMART” (Saving Makes A Richer Tomorrow) plan, and an employee stock purchase plan.
The PROFIT (Publix People Reaching Our Future Investing Together) plan is an employee stock ownership program that gives anyone who worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous calendar year free stock in the company, equal to 8.5% of the qualifying pay earned for that year. Employees are eligible to participate after reaching their first work anniversary with the company, and must remain employed by Publix for at least three years to become vested.
Publix matches 50% of 3% of eligible wages through the 401(k) plan (up to $750 per year) in matched contributions. Employees may invest in Publix stock and other managed funds offered through the program.
Associates may buy stock outright through the employee stock purchase plan. As it is structured as an additional retirement plan, associates are restricted from purchasing shares for one year if they sell any back to the company.
In addition, stock is offered for purchase to the Board of Directors through a separate plan.
Publix stock has paid quarterly dividends that have steadily increased since 2000, yielding almost 3 percent.
Stock was made available to associates in 1959, originally priced at $2.50 per share. The stock has a compounded annual growth of 16% from 1959 to 2016. As of August 1, 2017, Publix stock is valued at $36.05 per share. Publix stock is quoted on the US OTC market under the code PUSH
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. It is listed on the 2016 Fortune 500 list at #87.
Distribution centers are located in:
Manufacturing facilities are located in:
In 2003, Publix supported a successful bill that prevents owners from suing if their land is polluted by dry cleaning chemicals dumped on an adjacent property, if the adjacent property owners are on a state clean-up list. Publix lost a 2001 lawsuit filed by an owner whose property had been contaminated in this manner.
On October 4, 2005, Publix sued Visa and MasterCard, citing unfair business practices over their unannounced and non-negotiable increases in merchant account fees. Wal-Mart won a similar lawsuit against Visa in 2004.
In 2014, Publix was fined by the Board of Human Rights of Broward County, Florida for discrimination involved in the termination of an LGBT employee. Upon appeal, the 17th Circuit Court found that the decision by the Board of Human Rights of Broward County was “not supported by competent, substantial evidence” and quashed the order.
Publix has won various local, regional, and national industry and philanthropic awards, including: