Justine Griffin / Herald-Tribune – Word on the street is that Midwest grocer chain Kroger Co. may be making its way into Florida soon.
The Cincinnati-based chain has been growing rapidly over the years, including a 2013 acquisition of another chain, Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., and executives said this week that the company has a vested interest in expanding into a new market, though they weren’t specific about which.
One version of the theory has Kroger buying Bi-Lo/Winn-Dixie, the grocery chains held by Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers LLC since September 2013.
Florida makes sense for a Kroger expansion in a lot of ways, according to some retail analysts.
In 2014, the Sunshine State surpassed New York as the third-largest state by population. Florida is a top tourism destination, too, for part-time residents who are loyal to the chains they know from the Midwest, Northeast and elsewhere. Florida also is home to educated and savvy consumers who cross-shop now more than ever, said Jeff Green, retail analyst who’s familiar with the Southwest Florida market.