Lucky’s Market has filed for bankruptcy and is in the process of selling six of its Florida locations to Aldi and another five to Publix.
Publix is under contract to purchase Lucky’s leases with locations in Clermont, Naples, Neptune Beach, Orlando and Ormond Beach, the store said in a statement. These locations could become a Publix, or more likely, a Publix GreenWise. GreenWise stores, Publix’s new specialty chain, shares Lucky’s emphasis on prepared foods.
Aldi has not confirmed which locations it’s taking over, but in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times said it’s “acquiring several” in Florida.
In total, 32 Lucky’s Markets are closing.
In Tampa Bay, customers cleared the shelves of the Lucky’s Market on Tyrone Boulevard during its going-out-of business sale. Construction had already lulled on two planned Lucky’s locations in Brandon and Clearwater. But what would happen to those properties was still unclear Tuesday.
Lucky’s first announced on Jan. 21 that it would be closing all but seven of its stores. The only remaining location in Florida is in Melbourne.
The company said on Monday it has filed for Chapter 11 protection as it sells off its assets. Lucky’s said in a release it has signed an asset purchase agreement with Aldi for the six Lucky’s stores.
After Lucky’s finishes closings its stores, up to 2,500 Floridians could be without jobs. A total of 89 employees have been laid off from the St. Petersburg store, according to a report to the state. So far, only two other Florida stores have reported their layoff numbers to the state, resulting in another 186 job cuts. The chain also said it would be reducing jobs at its Colorado headquarters.
Lucky’s said in the statement it has enough cash on hand to handle its employees’ salaries and money owed to vendors.
Lucky’s move to close dozens of stores came after supermarket leader, Kroger, decided to pull out of its investment in the chain. Kroger had been behind Lucky’s aggressive expansion in Florida. More than half of Lucky’s locations, 21 stores, were in Florida.
Aldi, a discount grocer, has been expanding its Florida footprint over the last several years.
It has spent millions of dollars adding new locations and updating existing stores in Florida. The chain already has a $5 billion expansion plan that would make it the country’s third-largest food retailer behind Walmart and Kroger by 2022.
Publix has been steadily growing its GreenWise concept. It opened the first in Tallahassee in 2018. Like Lucky’s, the store serves craft beer and wine and has niche grocery items. A location recently opened in Lakeland and Tampa’s first location is planned for the Water Street development.
(Editor’s note: An earlier story stated court filings showed Aldi was likely taking several location Publix has now confirmed it is in negotiations to take over.)