Publix Super Markets continued its march into the Charlotte area Friday with the announcement it will open a store in Cornelius in late 2014.
The 49,000-square-foot supermarket at West Catawba Avenue and Jetton Road will have a drive-thru pharmacy. It will be just across Catawba Avenue from a Harris Teeter.
Publix, based in Lakeland, Fla., is opening a Charlotte division and says it plans to continue its expansion across the state. It plans to open its first Charlotte-area stores early next year: one in Ballantyne and another in Mint Hill. A South End store is scheduled for an early 2015 opening.
The move presents another challenge to Matthews-based Harris Teeter, the area’s top grocer by market share.
Harris Teeter agreed last month to be acquired by Kroger for just over $2.4 billion. Harris Teeter said that competitive pressure from rivals such as Publix played a role.
As a subsidiary of Kroger, Harris Teeter will be part of a grocer with more than $100 billion in annual sales, giving it more bulk to take on rivals such as Publix. Harris Teeter is also investing millions of dollars in upgrading, or even completely rebuilding, its stores in the region.
The grocery market in Charlotte has seen fierce competition in the past several years. Wal-Mart Stores has targeted both Harris Teeter and Food Lion with aggressive price-based commercials. Publix and Whole Foods moved in, and Whole Foods is opening its second area store in Lake Norman.
Food Lion is also trying to rebrand itself and recover from disappointing sales.
Publix’s Cornelius store will be in the Magnolia Plaza retail center. Some merchants there have said they’ve been told they’ll have to move to make way for Publix.
In a press release Friday, Publix said it “continues to aggressively look for additional locations throughout the state of North Carolina.”
Publix also plans to open stores in Winston-Salem, Cary and Asheville. The privately owned company operates 1,072 stores, concentrated in Florida but also in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
In October, Publix opened two stores just across the South Carolina state line, in Fort Mill and Indian Land.
Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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