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Sweetbay stores set to reopen as Winn Dixie

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Published:   |   Updated: April 8, 2014 at 09:37 PM

A string of Sweetbay signs are coming down from grocery stores in the Tampa area. At least 11 locations in the Tampa area are going through the conversion, and are set to re-open April 11 as brand-new Winn-Dixie stores.

The conversions come as the combined Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo company acquired the Sweetbay brand in a deal announced May 28 last year. Sweetbay had already gone through some transition and closed 33 under-performing locations amid stiff competition with Walmart and Publix. The bulk of those stores remain closed, though a location in South St. Petersburg has re-opened as a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Now that the original Winn-Dixie deal has been consummated, the conversion of former Sweetbay brands is going forward quickly. At least three phases of about a dozen stores each have started the transition, and about seven locations in the central Tampa area are temporarily shut down now and in the middle of a one-week period of renovation.

Perhaps the biggest change for shoppers once they re-open will be Winn-Dixie’s particular pricing strategy. The store is often among the more expensive for groceries, particularly in comparison to Walmart, but Winn-Dixie has a membership card system where cardholders can win discounts if they buy specified products, particularly in combinations pre-arranged by the store. A FuelPerks discount system will tally spending at Winn-Dixie over time and offer discounts on gas at participating stations.

The next round of 18 stores to go through conversion are spread from New Port Richey to The Villages. Those will close April 12 and re-open April 18th as Winn-Dixie locations.

rmullins@tampatrib.com

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