Publix Super Markets will be taking over two Western Market locations in the Over the Mountain area, with plans to open a GreenWise Market in the Lane Parke location and a Publix at the Vestavia Hills site on Morgan Drive.
“When I became involved in ownership in 1987,” owner Ken Hubbard said in a statement, “our goal was to maintain Western as Birmingham’s leading independent grocer. 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.”
Publix plans to open the GreenWise Market in Mountain Brook during the third quarter of this year. The stores are generally smaller and more focused on organic, natural and prepared foods than traditional Publix markets.
The Western on Morgan Drive will be torn down and a 35,000-square-foot Publix built in its place. No opening date has been set for that store.
“Publix is always seeking locations where we can serve our customers and offer an exceptional shopping experience,” Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. “This acquisition allows us to expand our presence in the Birmingham area, and we are very excited to bring one of our GreenWise Markets to this region.”
Western Market has two other locations in the Birmingham area. The Village Market in East Lake is for sale and the store on Highland Avenue will close as Highland Plaza is slated for redevelopment.
More than 200 people work for Western Market and have been encouraged to seek employment with Publix.
“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,” Hubbard said.
Western will be having an inventory liquidation sale. The wine liquidation sale begins Jan. 9, with all wines discounted by 20 percent, and the remaining inventory liquidation will begin Jan. 30, according to the statement.
– Virginia Martin