- Publix announced it will open a new Greenwise store in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in early 2019, according to a news release. This will be the company’s first Greenwise located outside its home state of Florida, and the second new location announced under Publix’s reboot of the natural and organic store format.
- At 25,000 square feet, the new location is smaller than other Greenwise stores, which average 36,000 to 39,000 square feet, according to Supermarket News.
- “We’re creating an environment where fresh, specialty, natural and organic food is celebrated,” Kevin Murphy, Publix’s senior vice president of retail operations said in the release. “We’ll have something for everyone, from the indulgent foodie ready to discover something new to the health-conscious shopper seeking fresh, high-quality ingredients.”
Whole Foods has its 365 stores, Target has its fast-expanding small-format locations, and now Publix has its new and improved Greenwise stores. The opportunity is clearly ripe for scaled-down banner stores, but does Publix’s entry have enough appeal to stand out from the competition?
The Greenwise story reaches back more than a decade. In 2007, Publix built three of the stores — in Tampa, Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton — as an answer to a then seemingly invincible Whole Foods. The stores featured a limited assortment centered on the retailer’s natural and organic private label brand, which carried the same name. However, just as soon as the introductions began, Publix decided to integrate elements of the Greenwise stores into its traditional stores rather than continue to expand the concept.
The format may have been a bit ahead of its time. But in more recent years, consumer acceptance of small formats, prepared foods and private label products has soared, making it understandable that Publix would want to dust off Greenwise and give it another go.
The first new Greenwise store, announced earlier this year, will take aim at millennial consumers located near the Florida State University campus in Talahassee. Its second store, meanwhile, will target more affluent suburbanites living near Charleston, South Carolina.
The biggest challenge will be competition. Mount Pleasant, the town where the new Greenwise will open in early 2019, has 80,000 residents and between 15 and 20 full-service grocery stores. That’s more than double the average density across the country, according to news reports, though not uncommon for a promising market in the over-stored Mid-Atlantic region.
Belying the town’s genteel name, Mount Pleasant has become a grocery battleground where Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, Trader Joe’s and Aldi are all duking it out for market share. Some residents have complained about the glut of stores, saying they’re creating traffic while areas of Charleston remain underserved.
Will Greenwise be price competitive enough to battle Aldi? Will its fresh selection stack up against Harris Teeter? The format may struggle to differentiate itself in such a packed market. On the plus side, this will be a proving ground for the concept, and a learning experience for Publix.
The bigger question remains, will Greenwise succeed on a larger scale? It has an attractive size and product assortment, but again, competition will be a major headwind, so expect slow growth in the years to come. Greenwise’s main value may be as a test lab for the grocer to keep improving, particularly in high-growth specialty categories.