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Kroger buys Florida shopping center

Kroger buys Florida shopping center

A Kroger Co. real estate unit has purchased a shopping center in South Florida, hundreds of miles from its closest store.

But Cincinnati-based Kroger (NYSE: KR), the nation’s largest operator of traditional supermarkets, isn’t planning to launch its expansion into Florida with this deal. Instead, the location is to be home to a Lucky’s Market store, Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard told me. Lucky’s didn’t immediately responded to a Courier request for comment.

Kroger made an investment in Boulder, Colo.-based Lucky’s two years ago. Shortly after that, Lucky’s said it was expanding by adding at least seven new stores in Florida to the three it had. It now has 13 Florida locations with two more planned to open soon, not including the new South Florida location. Lucky’s has 35 stores total.

Kroger real estate subsidiary Topvalco bought the 74,000-square-foot shopping center and an outlot on the site in Delray Beach, Fla., for $17 million.

Kroger has long been speculated to be interested in entering the Florida market, but it has just one store in Florida now. That’s a Harris Teeter store just over the state line from Georgia on Amelia Island, near Jacksonville, that it acquired when it bought Harris Teeter in 2014. The Florida market is dominated by Publix, a chain known for strong operations and great customer service.

Kroger has 2,800 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Kroger has launched numerous e-commerce efforts in recent months, including today’s launch of direct-to-consumer online shopping service Kroger Ship and a partnership in May with British online grocery home delivery company Ocado. Kroger and Ocado are working to build automated warehouses around the country. Those efforts aim to fulfill Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen’s stated goal to reach “everyone in America.”

Steve Watkins, Cincinnati Business Courier