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Winn-Dixie will close St. Pete store

Southeastern Grocers Inc. said it will close the Winn-Dixie grocery store at 7489 4th St. N. in St. Petersburg. The store is scheduled to close on or before Monday, Feb. 10, a statement from the company said. "We realize that the closure of an underperforming store in your community can be challenging. We do not take these decisions lightly, and only make this tough choice after careful consideration of its impact on our associates and our customers has been made," the statement said. The company also said it would make"difficult decisions" that would impact some workers. Southeastern Grocers is the parent company several grocery chains, including Winn-Dixie, and one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the U.S.

Clearwater Beach hotel rebrands

The Quality Inn at 655 S. Gulfview Blvd. is undergoing a complete transformation and will relaunch in the spring as Dolphin Sands Beach Club. The new hotel will become part of Choice Hotels’ upscale Ascend Collection, a report in hotelbusiness.com said. The five-floor beachfront hotel features 91 rooms and suites and offers guests an outdoor heated pool, sundeck, beach cabanas, private balconies, free WiFi, a full-service restaurant and tiki bar, and direct access to the beach. The property is owned by Page Development Group, and will be managed by McKibbon Hospitality of Tampa. Taylor Construction in Sebring is serving as the project’s general contractor.

Rowdies unveil plan for amateur soccer team

The Tampa Bay Rowdies will field a team this year in USL League Two, the leader in pre-professional soccer in the United States and Canada. The Rowdies team,  Rowdies U23s, will be run in partnership between Chargers Soccer Club and the Rowdies technical staff. Former Rowdies defender and 2012 Champion Andres Arango will coach the team. The League Two team demonstrates the Rowdies' commitment to developing pathways for young players in Tampa Bay, Neil Collins, Rowdies head coach and technical director, said in a news release. The 2020 season will run from May to July and all Rowdies U23 home matches will be held at Al Lang Stadium with free admission, the news release said.

DeSantis unveils Everglades wetlands deal

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has reached an agreement with Kanter Real Estate LLC. that will allow for the purchase of 20,000 acres of critical wetlands in the Everglades in Broward County. This acquisition would represent the largest wetland acquisition in a decade and will permanently save these lands from oil drilling, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Wednesday morning announcement was welcomed by several environmental groups, according to a news release

Oldsmar’s Spectrio buys Louisiana marketing firms

Spectrio, an in-store marketing company headquartered in Oldsmar, said it will increase its footprint with the acquisition of two Louisiana firms. Spectrio bought Profit On-Hold and Airwaves Scenting, in a deal designed to create efficiencies and add opportunities for customers, a news release said. The purchase price was not disclosed. Spectrio's technologies are all designed to drive consumer behavior and include digital signage, interactive kiosks and WiFi marketing, as well as in-store music and marketing, on-hold marketing and scent marketing. Spectrio serves more than 100,000 locations, ranging from individually owned businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

C-level Bloomin’ exec leaves with seven-figure severance

Donagh Herlihy, executive vice president and chief information officer at Bloomin’ Brands, will leave the company effective Jan. 26. Herlihy will receive a lump sum severance payment of $1.5 million and certain other benefits as part of a separation agreement with Bloomin (Nasdaq: BLMN), the Tampa-based restaurant company said in a regulatory filing. The separation agreement also includes a release of claims and certain other covenants. Herlihy joined Bloomin' in 2014, and was among the most highly compensated executives, with a 2018 pay package totaling $1.6 million. Bloomin', the parent company of Outback Steakhouse and other casual dining brands, did not say why he was leaving the company.

Malware disrupts systems at Tampa digital marketer

AutoWeb, a Tampa-based digital marketing firm for car dealers, said its network was impacted by malware that encrypted servers on most systems and disrupted consumer and customer access to many of its services. AutoWeb discovered the malware on Jan. 9, a regulatory filing said, and has hired experts to help restore and remediate systems and to investigate the incident. Most of the impacted systems are operational and work is ongoing to restore full system functionality. So far, there's no evidence of unauthorized access to or acquisition of any consumer personal information or customer confidential information. The company carries cyber insurance, it said, but doesn't yet know the full scope of the costs of the incident.


Mangrove Equity takes stake in New York airfield maintenance firm

Mangrove Equity Partners in Tampa has partnered with the management of Hi-Lite Airfield Services on a management buyout. Financial terms were not disclosed.  The deal will allow Hi-Lite, in Watertown, New York, to focus exclusively on its core business of airfield pavement maintenance services, a news release said. A former affiliate, Spec-Rite Systems, a data and software company, will spin off as a separately owned and operated entity. Mangrove raised $175 million for its third private equity fund in July. The company focuses on the lower middle market, with target companies typically earning between $2 million and $10 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Tampa International expands All Access program

Tampa International Airport's All Access program will be in place daily, beginning Jan. 18. The program allows members of the general public who are not flying to visit TIA and enjoy all the post-security dining and shopping amenities. Until now, it's been on Saturdays only. More than 1,700 visitors have taken advantage of the program since its launch in May, using passes for plane watching, spending a few extra minutes with loved ones at their gates, and enjoying the airport’s restaurants and bars, a news release said. Guests must sign up in advance at TPAallaccess.com and are subject to the same security screening regulations as passengers boarding a plane.

St. Pete-Clearwater airport sets record

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport had its biggest year ever in 2019, as 2,288,692 passengers flew to or from 57 non-stop destinations. Passenger traffic for the year was up 2 percent over 2018. In December 2019, there was a 12 percent increase in passenger traffic, making last month the biggest December in the airport's history. St. Pete-Clearwater International is ranked No. 90 out of 519 commercial service airports in the United States, based on enplanements. It has one of the lowest average round-trip airfares, $127.85, compared to the U.S. average of $345.09, a news release said.    

Fast-food restaurant Jollibee opens first area site in Pinellas Park

Fast-food restaurant Jollibee will open a store at 4057 Park Blvd. N. in Pinellas Park on Friday. It's the company's first store in the  Tampa Bay area. The food is described as a "joyous mash-up of Western comfort food and Asian flavors," according to a news release. Jollibee is the flagship brand of Jollibee Foods Corp.,  one of the largest and fastest growing Asian restaurant companies in the world. The Pinellas Park store is part of the brand's plans to grow to 150 stores in the U.S. by 2023. Jollibee Pinellas Park is the 40th store to open in the U.S. 

New Catalina partnership offers insight on convenience store shoppers

Catalina, a St. Petersburg-based tech firm focused on collecting and analyzing shopping data, has partnered with Koupon, a suburban Dallas company that provides information to convenience store retailers and brands. The partnership signifies the growth and importance of the C-store channel and will provide C-store retailers and consumer packaged goods producers with a better understanding of consumer purchase behaviors, a news release said. That will help retailers and brands provide a more personalized shopping experience for C-store buyers, said Lori Buss Stillman, vice president of research of the National Association of Convenience Stores. Koupon is the latest in a series of strategic partnerships Catalina has formed to deepen its data insights, increase reach and help customers.

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