Alabama’s Western Market to discontinue operations, Publix to acquire two locations
Publix Super Markets is acquiring the leases for two Western Market locations in the Birmingham area as the longtime owner of Western prepares to exit the business and discontinue operations, per a report by the Birmingham Business Journal.
Publix will acquire leases for the Western located in Mountain Brook and the location in Vestavia Hills on Rocky Ridge Road. The acquisition will close in March. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Mountain Brook grocery store will become a GreenWise Market by the third quarter of 2019, making it the first of Publix’s new GreenWise Market concept stores in Alabama.
The Vestavia Hills market will be torn down and rebuilt as a 35,000-square-foot traditional Publix. The opening date for that location has not been determined.
However, the Highland Avenue location does not have a long-term lease and is expected to close in the weeks to come. Daniel Corp. recently purchased the shopping center and accompanying property but has not disclosed its specific redevelopment plans for the site.
The Village Market in East Lake, also owned by Western, is up for sale.
Western’s owner, Ken Hubbard, told the Birmingham Business Journal that he was proud of the local grocery chain’s service to the people of Alabama.
“When I became involved in ownership in 1987, our goal was to maintain Western as Birmingham’s leading independent grocer,” Hubbard advised. “With the help of the loyal and talented people on the Western team, we’ve achieved that goal. We’ve taken Western as far as we can. It’s time to exit the business that has been my life’s work.”
The transaction with Publix will continue its recent growth in the market, which has provided a boost for the local commercial real estate scene.
“Western Market has been serving Alabama for 70 years. I am happy to know our spirit of service, dedication to our people and community involvement will continue through Publix. I believe this is the best grocer to serve our loyal customers into the future,” Hubbard said.
Now, more than 200 Western Market employees are being encouraged to seek employment with Publix.
Hubbard explained, “Many of our employees have worked at Western their entire careers. Treating them fairly, giving them plenty of notice, and helping them find employment is now our mission. I am committed to that.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn