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Walmart Gains An Ally In Kroger In Texas Spirits Push, But Publix Objects To Florida Bill

February 20, 2015

Walmart has fresh support for its bid to sell spirits in Texas, as supermarket chain Kroger has joined a new legislative push to allow publicly traded companies to sell liquor in the Lone Star State. Walmart, which last week sued the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to challenge state laws prohibiting it from selling spirits in the state, has now aligned with Kroger and the Texas Association of Business to form a group called Texans For Consumer Freedom. According to the Texas Tribune, the new alliance is backing twin bills in the state legislature that would expand the number of liquor stores one company may own and lift the restriction against publicly traded companies selling liquor.

Meanwhile, Publix has come out against Walmart’s effort to loosen retail spirits restrictions in Florida. A Walmart-backed bill to put spirits on grocery store shelves—rather than in standalone stores, as is currently allowed—passed a subcommittee vote in the Florida House this week, but Publix lobbyist Teye Reeves told the local CBS affiliate that the chain’s business model differs from that of Walmart, and it is “concerned (the legislation) will put us at a competitive disadvantage.” Target also backs Walmart’s plan, according to CBS’s report, while spirits retailers like ABC Fine Wine & Spirits are opposed.

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