Publix Shuts Down Online Operations

LAKELAND, Fla. - Publix Super Markets Inc. on Friday announced it is closing PublixDirect, the online grocery shopping service it began testing in south Florida two years ago.

"We regret that our online grocery shopping business did not meet our expectations," said Publix CEO Charlie Jenkins Jr. "Despite many loyal customers and dedicated associates, PublixDirect simply didn't have enough volume to continue this service."

PublixDirect launched in South Florida, serving Miami, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale in 2001. By 2002, the chain had expected to be operating limited Internet grocery service in metro Atlanta and Orlando. However, launch plans for both markets were pushed back again and again.

In PublixDirect's model, orders were filled and dispatched from a central warehouse. Other grocers such as Safeway, Albertsons and Peapod have found an in-store pick model to be more cost effective.

Publix said its human resources department will help the approximately 440 associates at PublixDirect's Pompano Beach fulfillment center and Alpharetta, Ga., headquarters find employment opportunities within Publix as well as through outplacement services.

As a result of the decision to close PublixDirect, Publix expects to record a pretax charge of approximately $30 million during the third quarter of 2003. The expected impact of the closing on net earnings is approximately $18 million or $0.10 per share for the three-month period ended Sept. 27, 2003.
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