1. Business

Publix hits a $1 billion milestone as Florida's largest private company

There may come a day when Publix Super Markets does not report solid quarterly gains in profits and revenues. But it was not Monday.

Florida's largest private company set a milestone of sorts, reaching earnings of $1 billion for the first half of this year. That's up a very healthy 14.9 percent from $897.8 million achieved in the first half of 2014. Per quarter this year, that $1 billion was achieved with $548.9 million earned in the busier first quarter (when snowbirds are here), plus the $482.7 million earned in the quarter ended June 30.

Publix's sales for the first half of 2015 were $16.3 billion, a 6.4 percent increase from last year's $15.3 million. And comparable-store sales for the first half of 2015 increased 4.7 percent.

So what do all these numbers mean? Publix continues to sell more groceries because it is opening new stores and expanding into new states, notably North Carolina. It also remains successful in squeezing higher sales out of each of its stores — all while continuing to win business applause and awards as an employer folks like to work for as Florida's No. 1 grocery chain by market share.

And Publix does this with ever-increasing supermarket competition, not only from behemoth Walmart but from an increasingly crowded and niche array of players that range from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Aldi to Sam's Club, Costco, Target and Winn-Dixie, among others.

Publix operates about 1,100 stores, mostly in Florida but also pushing quickly into Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and the Carolinas. Increasingly in other Southeastern states, Publix is bumping into new competition, notably Ohio-based Kroger Co., whose sales last year topped $100 billion — more than three times that of Publix.

As Floridians have watched it compete head-on for years against Walmart, Publix is not afraid of bigger players.

Lakeland-based Publix tops a long Sunshine State list of fast-growing private firms — companies that are privately held and whose shares do not trade on the public stock exchanges. As Florida Trend magazine (a sister publication of the Tampa Bay Times) reported in its July issue, of the 225 biggest private businesses across Florida, more than 50 of them are based in the Tampa Bay metro area.

Contact Robert Trigaux at