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$1.9 BILLION MARKET: Publix Aims for No. 2 in Nashville

Publix Super Markets is eyeing 15 to 30 stores in the Nashville, Tenn., area, according to industry experts and published reports. If those plans work out, Publix would be the No. 2 grocer in the $1.9 billion Nashville grocery market, behind only Kroger.

Publix entered the Nashville market in June, when it announced it was buying seven supermarkets and a convenience store from Albertsons, which was leaving Nashville. It was somewhat unusual for Publix, which usually builds new stores from scratch rather than buying existing ones. So far, Publix has opened two stores in the Nashville suburbs of Hermitage and Franklin, and will open two more in Nashville and Bellevue next month. The other three should open next year.

Last week, Publix director of real estate James Leckey, gave a speech at a real estate conference at Florida State University, where he said the company plans 17 to 20 sites in the Nashville market within two to three years, the Tallahassee Democrat reported last week.

As in Atlanta, Publix will have to duke it out with Kroger Co., which is the nation's biggest traditional grocery company -- excluding mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart. Kroger has 38 stores in metropolitan Nashville and nearly 50 percent of the market. Its nearest competitor is Wal-Mart, which has eight stores and about 13 percent of the market. With only two stores open so far, Publix has just more than 1 percent of the market, according to The Shelby Report.
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