The Union Recorder


April 23, 2014

Grocery store president talks Food Depot plans

MILLEDGEVILLE — When Milledgeville's Food Depot location opens early this fall, the grocer's prices will be “competitive,” according to President and CEO Gerald Taylor.

The depot sells groceries at-cost to the shelf and adds 10 percent at the register, showing customers the true price.

“We are cheaper than Kroger and Publix,” Taylor said. “People will realize that really quick. We are very competitive in prices in all departments but particularly in meat and produce. We believe in stacking the store full.”

The former Winn Dixie Marketplace building at 1850 N. Columbia St. could reopen as a Food Depot grocery store by Sept. 1.

Food Depot is the largest independent grocer in Georgia with 34 stores and counting. The company has 2,500 employees.

Taylor said the grocer refurbishes second and third generation stores to “really rejuvenate the areas in communities that need a good grocery store.”

Food Depot eyed the vacate Milledgeville building for several years after Winn Dixie declared bankruptcy in 2005.

“At that time we bought six of their stores at once and have been trying to get [the Milledgeville] location, but a lot of times the rent factors aren't what we want to pay,” the Food Depot president said. “We had to sit back and wait until the landlords decided we would be a good fit together.”

Taylor said the building recently sold to the same landlord that owns Food Depot locations in Fort Valley and Macon. The middle Georgia area has been good to the grocer.

“We actually signed the lease prior to (the landlord) buying that center to make it fit,” he added. “We are excited about Milledgeville. It's a beautiful town, and it's our kind of people.”

Food Depot will likely hire as many as 100 full and part-time positions at the new Milledgeville location.

“It all depends on the volume of the store, but we'll start off pretty close to 100 employees,” Taylor said.

The 56,000 square foot location will include grocery, dairy, frozen food, meat and produce departments.

“We'll be taking about 45,000 square feet of that building,” Taylor said. “There will be maybe 12,000 square feet available for additional tenants in that area.”

Demolition work has begun. Food Depot leadership awaits building permit approval of architectural drawings that are almost complete.

“They are preparing their plans right now and should have them to us soon,” Milledgeville City Manager Barry Jarrett said Monday. “The city will process them as fast as possible.”

Taylor said after approval it usually takes “90 to 120 days to get in there.”

“That building has been vacant so long it's going to take a lot of work to get it rehabbed into a first class building,” the Food Depot owner said.

Taylor and Raymond Johnson purchased their first supermarket in Stockbridge, formerly known as Kenney's Market in March 1975.

The Food Depot name and concept arrived on the scene in late 1988. The Conyers store was the first unit converted to the grocer's standard Cost Plus 10 percent format.

The grocery chain just celebrated a grand opening for its store in the former Fred's on Northside Drive in Macon. Other Middle Georgia stores are in Warner Robins, Fort Valley and Dublin, where it also has a distribution center.

“We are growing by leaps and bounds,” Taylor said Tuesday. “We consider Kroger, Publix and Wal-Mart all wonderful competitors. We are excited to be good, clean competitors with them.”


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