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Local Stores Mum On Plans As Jax Grocery Store Market Expands

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As the number and variety of grocery stores in the Jacksonville metro area continues to grow, the area's two large locally-based chains aren't saying much about their outlook for the future.

Just in the past two weeks there have been two major developments regarding the city's grocery landscape.

California-based specialty grocer Trader Joe's confirmed they will open a location next year at the South Beach Regional Shopping Center in Jacksonville Beach.

Trader Joe's, which offers many specialty products on their own label, has a near cult-like following in many areas of the country.

Organic and local produce purveyor The Fresh Market, which already has locations in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, and Gainesville. is reportedly moving closer to opening a central location on Riverside Avenue.

The relative newcomers are entering the fray as Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie appear to be expanding, following news that their recently merged parent company Bi-Lo Holdings will rebrand Sweetbay, Reid's, and Harveys stores as Winn-Dixie locations following a deal to acquire those properties.

Bi-Lo is also reportedly planning an initial public stock offering, hiring several banks to broker the deal.

A Bi-Lo spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

A spokesman for Lakeland-based Publix stores did weigh in on the growing grocery scene.

"The grocery retail landscape has taken on different looks over the last several years. Providing consumers a choice is good for the economy, specifically Northeast Florida," said Publix's Florida media relations manager Dwaine Stevens, in an emailed statement.

"We will remain focused on providing our customers and their families superior customer service, convenient locations and a vast variety of product selections possible in the grocery retail industry."

He did not respond to a question of whether the company has any expansion or rebranding plans for the immediate future.

You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter at @patrickhdonges.