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    Publix Keeps Pressure on Competition

    Supermarket retailer adds full-service restaurants to its impressive list of retail ventures.

    TAMPA, Fla. -- First fuel. Now restaurants.

    Publix Super Markets Inc. made its first foray into the restaurant business last week by investing in the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain Crispers. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

    Crispers, which specializes in fresh salads, sandwiches and soups, plans to use the money to finance an aggressive expansion. The company operates 13 restaurants and hopes to have 27 by the end of 2003, according to the Tampa Tribune.

    Lee Brunson, a spokesman for Publix, said the grocery giant recognized Crispers' growth potential. He said Publix has no other plans to get into the restaurant industry. Publix recently branched out into the Internet retailing and convenience store industries.

    As part of the deal, a Publix executive will get a seat on the Crispers board of directors.

    Mike Calhoun, Crispers' chief financial officer, said Publix became interested in Crispers because each company is a customer of the other. He said Crispers hopes to leverage Publix's immense purchasing power and real-estate knowledge, the report said.

    Publix, which began adding fuel to its supermarkets in 2000, has 709 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. The grocery retailer tallied more than $15 billion in sales in 2001.

    ABOVE: After launching is fuel brand in 2000, Publix is investing in the Crispers restaurant chain in Florida.

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