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Residents in a booming section of Stafford County will have a new place to shop for groceries in early 2021.

Publix Super Markets has leased a location at the northeast corner of Courthouse and Mine roads in what is expected to become Embrey Mill Town Center. It announced plans Monday to open an approximately 48,000 square-foot store there that could employ around 130 people.

“We continue to look for new store locations across Virginia to best serve our customers,” said spokeswoman Kim Reynolds. “Stafford’s growth, geography and requests from our loyal customers to open a store here all contributed to us choosing to serve this wonderful community.

“We look forward to bringing Publix’s legendary service, quality and value to residents, as well as being active partners in the community.”

Embrey Mill Town Center will be next to Embrey Mill, a large master-planned community just off Interstate 95 in North Stafford. It’s also a short distance from the new I–95 interchange being rebuilt near Stafford’s courthouse complex.

“It’s a high-growth area that can easily support a Publix,” said Stafford Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer. “People are excited about it.”

He added that there are no grocery stores on Courthouse Road to the west of Publix’s future location.

Publix is based in Lakeland, Fla., and has become one of the 10 largest-volume supermarket chains in the country since its founding in 1930. Its 1,221 locations from Florida to Virginia feature such things as an extensive produce section, in-house bakery, pharmacy and an Aprons Simple Meals cooking demonstration station. Last year alone, the company rang up retail sales of more than $36.1 billion, according to its website.

The supermarket chain is employee-owned and has been named as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since 1998. That has earned it recognition as one of the magazine’s Great Place to Work Legends.

Publix currently has “its foot on the accelerator” to expand up the East Coast, said Jeffrey Metzger, publisher of the trade magazine Food World. Its location in Stafford follows on the heels of the opening of a 49,098-square-foot store in Cosner’s Corner shopping center in Spotsylvania County nearly a year ago.

That location had rung up $12.5 million in sales by the end of March, according to Food World’s latest market study.

Metzger said that while Publix has a strong business model and executes it at a high level, it hasn’t fared particularly well as it has expanded into this part of the state. The Spotsylvania store, for example, lagged far behind front-runner Walmart’s $137.3 million in sales from its four locations in Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg. (Food World lumps the city and county together in its survey.)

“I don’t think they’ve made the adjustments they need as the new guy in town,” Metzger said.

He added that he doesn’t expect Publix to expand much farther north, but he thinks it could add more stores in the Fredericksburg area, like it has done in Richmond.

“They originally bought 10 of the Martin’s stores in Richmond and built several ground-up stores and acquired other Martin’s at a later date, including one in Williamsburg,” Metzger said. “They’ve looked to add on and fill in that market base. I think the strategy [in the Fredericksburg area] is likely to be similar.”

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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