business news in context, analysis with attitude

Vox has a really interesting story about Publix Super Markets, a company that has dominated the Florida landscape for decades, and how it tries to being an uncomplicated ethos to an often complicated reality.

There are, the story says, "the complications of real life — brushes with politics, labor-related controversies, a small-c conservative approach to business that has made the company slow to adapt, and the nagging concern that Publix isn’t exactly the most affordable. Still, to Floridians, the brand has a legendary quality. People often love their grocery stores — they can become endearing spaces of comfort and routine. In Publix’s case, that sentiment is on overdrive."

There is, the story suggests, a "distinct level of continuity within Publix stores, not only across locales but across time. Publix today is supposed to feel fairly similar to Publix 30 years ago. Florida has a lot of stories of reinvention to it; Publix has been a steady, almost isolated force throughout."

While for years "other grocery chains wouldn’t dare enter Florida for fear of competing against Publix … that’s starting to change. Kroger is establishing fulfillment centers and distribution hubs for online shopping and home delivery."

Good piece, and you can read it in its entirety here.

KC's View:

There's no question that Publix's general policy of staying in its own lane has been successful - when the company has tried things like convenience stores and organic food stores, it generally hasn't worked out.  It made numerous attempts to get into e-grocery, but only really got traction when it turned the whole thing over to Instacart.

The question is whether Publix's approach will be enough as it continues to expand into new marketing areas.  As I've pointed out here before, it has been moving up the east coast as Wegmans has been moving south.  Increasingly, the two companies may find themselves going head to head;  I wonder if it is inevitable that at some point, Wegmans finds a piece of real estate in northern Florida that it finds appealing.  (Maybe it already has bought real estate there?  Hmmmm?)