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Convenience Store News August 2021

W H AT ’ S N E X T I N C O N V E N I E N C E A N D F U E L R E TA I L I N G

MIDYEAR REPORT CARD: A REBOUNDING FIRST HALF

THE

This year’s 74 Top Women in Convenience honorees stood out in a record field of entries.

Volume 57, Number 8

AUGUST 2021 CSNEWS.COM

OF THE

BEST


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VIEWPOINT

Ready, Set, Go Pent-up demand for in-person connections should fuel a vibrant NACS Show I JUST BOOKED my

first business trips since February 2020, when I attended 7-Eleven’s annual trade show in Las Vegas. At that time, news of the coronavirus outbreak in China was just beginning to emerge in the United States. By the end of that month, there would be more than 1,000 cases outside of mainland China.

We all know what followed. From minor concerns about a new virus that U.S. retailers feared might disrupt product supply lines from Asia, COVID-19 grew into a worldwide pandemic that paralyzed business and travel for several months, and caused death and illness to millions over the past year and a half. So, it was with cautious optimism that I booked both a business trip this month to Ohio and my airfare and hotel for the 2021 NACS Show in Chicago in October. I have a feeling this year’s NACS Show will be special. Operators are enjoying a surge in pent-up demand for many of the products they sell, from fuel to foodservice. Retailers have missed connecting with their colleagues and business partners. Unless there is a setback in the fight against COVID-19, the industry is going to have a blast at this year’s show. It will be great to see old friends and business associates again. NACS says that exhibitor space is more than 90 percent filled and buyer attendance is pacing ahead of

the last time the show was held in Chicago in 2017. I expect to see retailers walking the aisles — examining and/or tasting new products and discussing business strategies with their vendor partners. I’m looking forward to the usual slate of education sessions on such topics as home delivery, supply chain efficiencies, last-mile experiences, and the current biggest challenge: the labor shortage. For all of the success of the technology that enabled virtual meetings this past year, nothing takes the place of face-to-face contact. Convenience Store News has two in-person events scheduled during NACS Show week in Chicago. Our annual Technology Leadership Roundtable & Dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 5 will feature most of the top retail tech executives in the industry, including guest speakers Alimentation Couche-Tard Chief Technology Officer Deb Hall Lefevre and 7-Eleven Chief Information Officer Mani Suri. And one of the annual highlights of show week, the CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards gala, will be held Wednesday, Oct. 6, right after the expo closes. I’m going for the connections, the products, and to be inspired. How about you? For comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, at (201) 855-7606 or dlongo@ensembleiq.com.

EDITORIAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS (2013-2021)

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Brett Atherton Bolla Management

2021 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Infographics, June 2021

2018 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Editorial Use of Data, June 2017

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2012

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012

2020 Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Series of Articles, September 2019 2018 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Website Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2017 Business to Business, Editorial Use of Data, June 2017

Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery

2017 Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Winner, Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, May 2017 Honorable Mention, Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, June 2016

Edward Davidson ER Davidson & Associates (7-Eleven Inc., retired)

2016 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2015 Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, August 2015 2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Bronze, Best Original Research, June 2015 2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Silver, Best Original Research, June 2015

2015 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2014

2013 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Bronze, Best Editorial/Commentary, July 2012

Jim Hachtel Eby-Brown Co.

2014 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2013 Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2013

Chris Hartman Rutter’s

2013 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2012

Ray Johnson Speedee Mart

2015 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Silver, Best Profile (long form), February 2014 2015 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Gold, Best Special Supplement, November 2014 Silver, Best Profile (long form), February 2014

Laura Aufleger OnCue Express

Robert Falciani ExtraMile Convenience Stores Ruth Ann Lilly GPM Investments Vito Maurici McLane Co. Inc. Matt Paduano Lakeport Markets Jonathan Polonsky Plaid Pantries Inc. Greg Scriver Kwik Trip Inc. Bill Stein Core-Mark Roy Strasburger StrasGlobal

Jack Lewis GPM Midwest

2020 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Honorable Mention, Best Single Issue, September 2019 2016 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Silver, Front Cover Illustration, June 2015

AUGUS T

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CONTENTS AUGUST 21

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COVER STORY PAGE 34

FEATURES

DEPARTMENTS

COVER STORY

34 The Best of the Best This year’s 74 Top Women in Convenience honorees stood out in a record field of entries.

VIEWPOINT

3 Ready, Set, Go Pent-up demand for in-person connections should fuel a vibrant NACS Show.

TWIC TALK

96 Jayne Rice, Yesway The 2019 TWIC Woman of the Year believes it is important for women to be open to all opportunity, not just vertical advancement. STORE SPOTLIGHT

MIDYEAR REPORT CARD

80 A Rebounding First Half The Convenience Store News Midyear Report Card finds improved business conditions despite continued pandemic-related issues.

18 4 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

8 CSNews Online 18 New Products SMALL OPERATOR

26 Should You Join a Franchise? Small operators considering a branded c-store network are wise to do their homework.

98 A Fast Track Into the Future GPM Investments embarks on a remodel initiative armed with a bold, new store prototype. INSIDE THE CONSUMER MIND

114 Fill It Up As Americans hit the road, price most dictates where they will stop for fuel.

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8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 (773) 992-4450 Fax: (773) 992-4455 www.csnews.com

BRAND MANAGEMENT Vice President/Group Brand Director Paula Lashinsky (917) 446-4117 plashinsky@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL

10 INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

CATEGORY MANAGEMENT

10 BP Takes Full Ownership of Thorntons

FOODSERVICE

12 Convenience Channel’s Supply Challenges Could Last Throughout 2021 12 Fast Facts 14 Retailer Tidbits 14 Eye on Growth 16 Legislative Corner

88 Satisfying the Sweet Tooth Dessert trends related to nostalgia and portability are particularly strong right now. FOODSERVICE

89 Better Synergy in the Kitchen New technology adoption in foodservice equipment is reshaping the food-to-go landscape.

16 Supplier Tidbits TECHNOLOGY

Editorial Director (201) 855-7606

Don Longo dlongo@ensembleiq.com

Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608

Linda Lisanti llisanti@ensembleiq.com

Senior News Editor (201) 855-7618

Melissa Kress mkress@ensembleiq.com

Senior Editor (201) 855-7619

Angela Hanson ahanson@ensembleiq.com

Managing Editor (201) 855-7604

Danielle Romano dromano@ensembleiq.com

Contributing Editor (303) 741-3377

Renée M. Covino reneek@aol.com

Contributing Editor (201) 280-2614

Tammy Mastroberte tmastroberte@gmail.com

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS Associate Brand Director & Northeast Sales Manager (774) 212-6455

Rachel McGaffigan rmcgaffigan@ensembleiq.com

Associate Brand Director & Western Sales Manager (330) 840-9557

Ron Lowy rlowy@ensembleiq.com

Associate Publisher & Midwest Sales Manager Kelly Fischer (773) 992-4464 kfischer@ensembleiq.com Account Executive & Classified Advertising Terry Kanganis (201) 855-7615 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com Classified Production Manager Mary Beth Medley (856) 809-0050 marybeth@marybethmedley.com EVENTS Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several (860) 830-8321 eseveral@ensembleiq.com AUDIENCE

92 Ensuring the Right Products at the Right Time Closely managing inventory is crucial to a c-store’s bottom line and combining technology with internal and external data sources can help.

92

List Rental (914) 309-3378

MeritDirect Marie Briganti

Subscriber Services/Customer Care TOLL-FREE: (877) 687-7321 FAX: (888) 520-3608

contact@csnews.com

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President, Production (877) 687-7321 Creative Director (973) 607-1320

Derek Estey destey@ensembleiq.com Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com

Advertising/Production Manager (773) 992-4418

Ed Ward eward@ensembleiq.com

Art Director (973) 607-1321

Lauren DiMeo ldimeo@ensembleiq.com

CORPORATE OFFICERS Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Litterick Chief Financial Officer Jane Volland Chief Innovation Officer Tanner Van Dusen Chief Human Resources Officer Ann Jadown Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several Senior Vice President, Content Joe Territo

CONVENIENCE STORE NEWS AFFILIATIONS Premier Trade Press Exhibitor

The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rates: Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy; Digital One year, digital $87; two year, $161. Periodical postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631, and additional mailing addresses. Copyright 2021 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Convenience Store News, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631.

6 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


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CSNEWS ONLINE

TOP VIEWED STORIES

1

FTC Issues Consent Order for 7-Eleven’s Acquisition of Speedway

Six weeks after 7-Eleven Inc. took ownership of the Speedway convenience store chain, the retailer and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came to a final agreement over the transaction. Under the FTC consent order, 7-Eleven and Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum Corp. will divest c-stores in 293 markets across 20 states.

2

7-Eleven Preparing to Move Into New South Carolina Market

3

Pride Stores Seeks Buyer for Its 31 C-stores

7-Eleven Inc. is expanding into the Myrtle Beach, S.C., market with three new stores and nearly 20 locations acquired through its recent acquisition of Speedway. According to Pride Stores CEO Robert Bolduc, the plan is to sell off the entire company, retaining only a few real estate investments. He has hired a merger and acquisition firm and is hearing from potential buyers. Bolduc declined to name them except to say that they are Big Oil and gas companies, as well as big-chain convenience operators.

4

Alimentation Couche-Tard Focuses on Optimizing Its Portfolio

Circle K parent Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is taking steps to optimize its portfolio, and that includes divestures, acquisitions and organic growth. The company reviewed its asset base in the fall of 2020 and identified convenience stores that are no longer a strategic fit for the network. As a result, Couche-Tard hung for-sale signs on 300-plus sites, and reached an agreement to sell 49 Circle K sites in Oklahoma to Casey’s General Stores Inc.

5

North Carolina Gas Station Sues Colonial Pipeline for Fuel Shortage

A North Carolina gas station filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the Colonial Pipeline on June 21. EZ Mart, located off Castle Hayne Road in Wilmington, seeks to represent more than 11,000 gas stations that were negatively affected by the pipeline’s six-day shutdown in May following a cyberattack.

EXPERT VIEWPOINT

Three Ways C-stores Can Use Headless Commerce to Power Digital Transformation Convenience stores have evolved to become much more than quick fuel and snack shops. Modern c-stores are dynamic retail environments that can offer tremendous customer experiences, writes Michael Jaszczyk, CEO of GK Software USA. Headless commerce, which is defined as the separation of the front and back ends of an e-commerce application, can enable digital transformation and help c-stores offer omnichannel capabilities across multiple touchpoints. In particular, headless commerce can allow convenience stores to power app-less technology, implement a modern POS, and offer more personalized customer experiences. 8 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

How QuikTrip Is Investing in Its Leaders With its leaders dispersed over multiple locations and with diverse responsibilities, QuikTrip Corp. (QT) was driven to create a common leadership language that could be used universally throughout the company and directly correlated to its mission to help employees grow and succeed. With this goal in mind, QT partnered with Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning (HBP) in 2014 to explore new leadership development initiatives. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School. Joining forces to craft and define what “leadership” is and what it means to the company, QT and HBP created the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) in 2015, aimed at high-potential leaders. They then added the Master Leadership Program (MLP), which expands on the ALP. To date, nearly 130 QT leaders have completed the ALP and MLP. “It is a very exclusive program that associates are proud to be a part of, and is a way for us to truly invest in our senior leaders,” Lindsay Bennefield, QT’s corporate training manager, told Convenience Store News. For more exclusive content, visit the Special Features section of csnews.com.

MOST VIEWED NEW PRODUCT

Broaster SmartTouch Ventless Fryer VF-3 Boasting less time spent operating, training staff, cleaning and maintaining the equipment, the new Broaster SmartTouch Ventless Fryer VF-3 is an easy-to-operate fryer built for convenience food production. With the ability to cook up to 3 pounds of food per load, the space-saving unit features a full-color touchscreen display programmable for up to 100 menu items. The VF-3 also offers the unique Auto-Comp feature, which automatically adjusts cooking time to accommodate for varying sizes and temperatures of loads, ensuring even heat distribution and efficiency. Broaster Co. Beloit, Wis. (800) 365-8278 broaster.com


INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

BP Takes Full Ownership of Thorntons The deal marks BP’s reentry into fully owned and operated c-stores in the United States entering into a joint venture to acquire Thorntons, BP is procuring the majority share it does not already own. The transaction is expected to close later this year.

TWO YEARS AFTER

Once completed, BP will add 208 owned and operated convenience stores across the Midwest to its retail network. The stores are located in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida. The company plans to keep and build on the Thorntons brand. In late 2018, BP joined with ArcLight Capital Partners LLC to reach an acquisition agreement for Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons. That deal closed in February 2019. “We have a proud history of high-quality retail brands across the country. Incorporating Thorntons into our business combines their customer-first culture with our existing U.S. retail network and will help us deliver our convenience strategy of offering customers what they want, where and when they want it,” said David Lawler, 10 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

chairman and president of BP America. This latest deal marks Houston-based BP’s reentry into fully owned and operated stores in the United States, a model it stepped away from through a series of divestments in the mid-2000s. Its brands in the U.S. currently include bp, Amoco and ampm. BP’s portfolio of brands in the U.S. service more than 3 million consumers daily. The company has a goal to increase the strategic convenience locations in its global network from around 2,000 today to more than 3,000 by 2030. “We are committed to putting the customer at the heart of what we do to help accelerate the mobility revolution and redefine the convenience experience at service stations,” said Greg Franks, senior vice president, mobility and convenience, Americas. “Thorntons has generated long-term customer loyalty over the last 50 years because of its best-in-class operations. We are excited to welcome them into our family.”


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INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

Convenience Channel’s Supply Challenges Could Last Throughout 2021 Only about a quarter of retailers and suppliers believe the situation will improve in the second half of this year SUPPLY CHAIN PRODUCT procurement was a major challenge for convenience stores and their supplier partners during the second quarter of 2021, and the struggle is expected to continue through the remainder of this year.

According to two new surveys from industry trade association NACS, two in five convenience retailers (39 percent) said there were “significant” levels of disruption across the supply chain during the second quarter of 2021, with 86 percent reporting that at least 10 percent of their orders were disrupted. During Q2, beverages in particular were a challenge for convenience retailers, who reported supply disruptions to packaged beverages (72 percent) and beer (67 percent). Additionally, two in five suppliers (38 percent) said they faced significant levels of disruption for the materials necessary to create their products. Supply chain disruptions also extend to equipment, with 79 percent of retailers experiencing delays getting store equipment and hardware deliveries. Confidence among convenience store retailers and suppliers that improvements are coming is low: only 25 percent of retailers and 27 percent of suppliers are confident that the supply disruptions will improve in the second half of this year. However, despite the challenges, in-store sales in the convenience channel have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according NACS CSX sales data ending April 2021. Another positive to come out of the supply chain

disruptions is a heightened level of collaboration between convenience retailers and their suppliers. The NACS Retailer and Supplier Member Pulse Surveys were conducted in June 2021 by NACS Research. Overall, 56 retailer members, representing a cumulative 1,497 stores, and 83 supplier member companies participated in the surveys.

FAST FACTS

70%

More than 70 percent of consumers aged 18 to 55 are likely to increase how often they order from a store if the retailer’s mobile app is easy to use. — Mobiquity, Restaurant & Convenience Store Digital Impact Report

12 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Snacking orders for delivery are more popular in 2021, with increases seen for items such as glazed donuts (up 501 percent), sweet tea (up 284 percent), and sour cream and cheddar potato chips (up 112 percent). — DoorDash, Mid-Year Deep Dish Report

65%

Consumers have become constant sippers: 65 percent say they always have a beverage on hand, including 73 percent of millennials and 63 percent of Gen Xers. — The Hartman Group, Modern Beverage Culture


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INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

Retailer Tidbits

Arko Corp., parent company of GPM Investments LLC, and TravelCenters of America Inc. secured spots on the Russell 2000 Index. Russell indexes are used as benchmarks for active investment strategies.

GPM Investments LLC rolled out checkout impulse racks to 500 of its stores. The retailer is also refreshing its fountain assortment in 260 stores with three new regional planograms based on preferences by geographic market. Mercury Fuel notified of layoffs as it prepares to sell more assets. The convenience retailer and wholesale company will lay off 112 workers in early September.

Since April 2020, Rutter’s has increased its field wages by more than $15 million annually.

Rutter’s is increasing its starting wage for all field employees to $15. Full-time team members can now earn more than $30,000 per year, and store managers can earn more than $110,000 a year.

Snappy’s Convenience Stores is offering $500 and $1,000 bonuses as part of its “Rock That Bonus” program. New hires receive half their bonus after six months of employment and the remainder after a full year. Pilot Co. introduced a year-round military discount. The exclusive 10-percent discount on food and beverages is validated through ID.me in its myRewards Plus app.

Eye on Growth

Kwik Trip Inc. plans to build 40 to 50 new stores annually over the next five years, and is looking at North Dakota and South Dakota for expansion. The retailer is also acquiring four Dells Travel Mart sites in its home state of Wisconsin. Foxtrot Market plans to add a total of 50 new locations to its footprint over the next two years. The stores will be located in multiple markets, including New York; Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston; Miami; and Los Angeles. Buc-ee’s has set its sights on Mississippi as the chain’s next new market. The company will invest $50 million in an 80,000-square-foot store in Harrison

14 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Refuel Operating Co. LLC formed a new partnership with Service Management Group (SMG). The partnership will focus on establishing a voice of the customer program and increasing customer loyalty.

Circle K expanded sustainable trucking in California through an agreement with Musket and Trillium, members of the Love’s family of companies. The pact among the three will help Circle K lower its fleet’s emissions. Colonial Group Inc., parent company to Enmarket convenience stores, marked 100 years in business. The fourthgeneration, family-owned business has 10 active subsidiaries and employs more than 2,000 people.

The closest existing Buc-ee’s store to Mississippi is in Robertsdale, Ala.

County. The project is expected to be completed in two years. TravelCenters of America Inc. opened its first TA Express store in Pennsylvania. Located in Ronks, in Lancaster County’s Amish Country, the TA Express is a franchised site formerly known as Lancaster Travel Plaza.


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INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

Legislative Corner

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act. The legislation has drawn concerns from NATSO, NACS and SIGMA that the surface transportation reauthorization bill will hinder private investment in electric vehicle charging. Federal lawmakers are taking steps to allow the sale of E15 fuel 12 months a year. The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act was introduced in the House of Representatives, and the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is before the Senate.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the state’s Tobacco 21 measure into law on June 16. The move makes Louisiana the latest state to bring its legal tobacco buying age in line with the federal rule. Nevada and Oregon approved the sale of E15 fuel to consumers. They become the 47th and 48th states to greenlight the 15-percent ethanol blended fuel.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser signed the measure into law on July 22.

Washington, D.C. passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. The measure exempts bars and restaurants that offer hookah.

Supplier Tidbits

Maine lawmakers approved the state’s $8.5-billion budget without including funding to offset revenue loss from a potential ban on flavored tobacco products. A ban would reduce revenue by $15.2 million in fiscal year 2021-2022.

New York State Legislature’s 2021 session ended with several threats to the convenience store trade being tabled until next year. Among the issues were a flavored tobacco ban, a tax on carbon emissions, and plastic straw rationing.

Hunt Brothers Pizza marked its 30-year anniversary in July, a milestone that came as the company entered its 8,000th location. Hunt Brothers Pizza also recently revamped its product packaging.

confection category during June 2021 vs. the prior year.

Swisher expanded its partnership with E-Alternative Solutions (EAS) to support the marketing, sales and distribution of EAS’ Leap and Leap Go vapor brands. Both companies will remain separate entities. S. Abraham & Sons Inc. wrapped up a National Candy Month campaign in June. The results included a 17-percent increase in dollars and units within the

16 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Juul will pay the money to the state over the next six years.

Juul reached a settlement with the state of North Carolina over concerns that its product attracts underage users. Under a consent order, Juul will pay $40 million and make changes to the way it conducts business.


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NEW PRODUCTS

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1. Seagram’s Escapes Spiked Crisp Green Apple Seagram’s Escapes Spiked, a high ABV flavored malt beverage brand, is expanding its offering with the introduction of a new flavor: Crisp Green Apple. Available nationwide in 23.5-ounce single cans beginning in September 2021, the new SKU features a crisp burst of sweet and sour green apple flavor with a refreshing finish, and has an 8 percent ABV. The Seagram Beverage Co. Rochester, N.Y. seagramsescapes.com

2. Sour Punch Bites Fan Favorites

3. Pringles Scorchin’ 4. Johnsonville Sour Cream & Onion Sausage Strips

Sour Punch Bites Fan Favorites is a special mix of flavors that fans have voted for and requested the most over the years. Grape, Fruit Punch, Tangerine and Lemon come together in a sweet-and-sour, fruitycitrusy, never-beforecombined mix for the Sour Punch Bites brand. Fan Favorites are available in a 5-ounce pouch bag for a suggested retail price of $1.79, or a 9-ounce pouch bag for a suggested price of $2.99.

Kellogg Co. is adding Scorchin’ Sour Cream & Onion as the fourth variety in the Pringles Scorchin’ line. The new flavor follows Scorchin’ takes on classic BBQ, Cheddar, and Chili & Lime flavors. Pringles Scorchin’ Sour Cream & Onion packs all the bold, tangy flavors that fans know and love, but kicks it up a notch with a spicy heat that builds over time, with each bite boasting a hint of smoky cayenne pepper flavor for extra oomph, according to the company.

American Licorice Co. La Porte, Ind. (800) 220-2399 shop.americanlicorice.com

Kellogg Co. Battle Creek, Mich. kelloggcompany.com

5. BIC Special Edition Countryside Pop Series Lighters BIC’s latest lighter series is designed to capture Americans’ dreams of leaving the stress of urban life behind for the idyllic joys of the countryside. Every design in the new BIC Special Edition Countryside Pop Series enables consumers to escape as they immerse themselves in the countryside aesthetic that has taken over the fashionable mainstream, according to the company. The lighters in this series are made in the U.S., and have a suggested retail price of $2.09 per lighter. BIC USA Inc. Shelton, Conn. us.bic.com/en_us 18 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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Johnsonville Sausage Strips provide all the flavor, texture and versatility of sausage in a new bacon-like form. The product launch includes two varieties: Original and Chorizo. Johnsonville Sausage Strips are fully cooked, versatile and easy to integrate into busy kitchens, the company noted. The strips have 40 percent less fat and 30 percent less sodium than bacon per serving, making them a leaner alternative. Johnsonville Sheboygan Falls, Wis. (800) 837-5391 foodservice.johnsonville.com


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7. Orbit Gum Mega Pack

Twenty-five years after first coming to the market, two new varieties are joining the vitaminwater line. Gutsy is watermelon peach flavored and has 5 grams of prebiotic fiber that aids in digestion to support gut health. Look is blueberry hibiscus flavored and contains Vitamin A and lutein to support eye health. The beverage brand now offers a range of 12 innovative and harder-working hydrating solutions with nutrients to address real human needs.

As the country begins to reopen, Orbit Gum is readying people for more close encounters with its new 30-piece Mega Pack, available in Peppermint and Spearmint varieties. It is the first-ever Mars Wrigley product to partner with and feature an on-pack guide from How2Recycle, a standardized labeling system that communicates a step-by-step guide on whether and how to recycle each part of the pack. The product’s outer plastic package is designed to be recycled in roughly half of U.S. recycling streams, with more locations to follow.

The Coca-Cola Co. Atlanta vitaminwater.com

Mars Wrigley US Newark, N.J. orbitgum.com

8. Premier Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake Premier Protein expands its line of 30g High Protein Shakes with a new Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor. Each shake has 30 grams of protein, 160 calories, one gram of sugar, and 24 vitamins and minerals per serving. The Chocolate Peanut Butter protein shake helps support a healthy immune system thanks to antioxidants Vitamins C and E, and all Premier Protein shakes are low fat, keto friendly, and gluten free. Premier Nutrition Co. LLC Emeryville, Calif. premierprotein.com

10. Safe-T-Fresh Microwaveables Inline Plastics introduces Safe-T-Fresh Microwaveables, its first microwave-safe, tamper-evident and recyclable containers. They are available in both vented (PPTS5XV) and non-vented (PPTS5X5) options. Safe-T-Fresh Microwaveables are made with a microwave-safe polypropylene material that prevents condensation and maintains superior clarity in order to promote impulse purchases and repeat sales, according to the company. Inline Plastics Corp. Shelton, Conn. inlineplastics.com/product_line/microwaveables

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9. Kool-Aid Brand Cotton Candy Hilco joined forces with The Kraft Heinz Co. to create Kool-Aid brand cotton candy. The new product enables consumers to bring home special treats they might normally get at the county fair. Kool-Aid Cotton Candy is available in two package sizes: a four-ounce tub that comes with a combination of tropical punch and cherry flavors, and a 1.5-ounce peg bag that contains just the tropical punch flavor. Suggested retail prices are $3.99 to $4.99 for the tub, and $1.49 to $1.99 for the peg bag. Hilco Louisville, Ky. hilcousa.com


30 YEARS OF GROWTH

& 8,000 STORES

CELEBRATING GROWTH WITH HUNT BROTHERS® PIZZA C-STORE OWNERS A family business founded by four brothers from Indiana, Hunt Brothers® Pizza now operates under its second generation of leadership: CEO Scott Hunt and family members (Bryan Meng and Britt, Erin, Adam and Frank Hunt) who keep the original values going strong. This year, the company is celebrating 30 years of growth in the convenience store industry and reflecting on how the four Hunt brothers laid the foundation for a simple branded pizza program built on serving c-store owners well.

“The Hunt brothers—Don, Jim, Lonnie and Charlie–set out with a focus to help others be successful,” Hunt Brothers Pizza CEO Scott Hunt says. “With trial and error, they ended up in rural convenience stores, starting very humbly without much money.” Designing their pizza programs with c-stores in mind, Hunt Brothers Pizza approaches their program with the goal of making c-stores more valuable. “We help the stores understand their profitability. If they are successful, we are successful,” adds Bryan Meng, Hunt Brothers Pizza COO. Having grown to 8,000 stores nationwide, Hunt Brothers Pizza recognizes that any larger growth is a result of strong c-store partnerships. C-store owners across the country have seen results from the way Hunt Brothers Pizza works to be a blessing to them, including financial profits, community relationships and much more. Let’s explore what sets Hunt Brothers Pizza apart by connecting with the true heroes of the business—the c-store owners themselves.

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Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza Pizza to to provide provide amazing amazing pizza pizza to to hishis town, town, wanting wanting to to serve serve hishis customers customers thethe best best food food hehe can. can. Mike’s Mike’s partnership partnership with with Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza Pizza began began when when a a representative representative of of thethe company company approached approached him. him. HeHe offered offered Mike Mike thethe chance chance to to sellsell Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza, Pizza, and and after after starting starting outout with with a single a single oven, oven, thethe results results areare stillstill paying paying offoff forfor Mike’s Mike’s store store today. today.

AABRANDED BRANDEDPIZZA PIZZAPROGRAM PROGRAM DESIGNED DESIGNEDFOR FORC-STORES C-STORES C-Store: C-Store: Cuzz’s Cuzz’s 6666 Owner: Owner: Mark Mark and and Sue Sue Dozier Dozier Location: Location: Thomasville, Thomasville, Alabama Alabama In 1999, In 1999, Mark Mark and and Sue Sue Dozier Dozier ranran a small a small gasgas station. station. Over Over thethe past past 2222 years years it has it has been been rebuilt rebuilt and and grown grown into into a modern a modern convenience convenience store store with with thethe Doziers Doziers happily happily serving serving customers customers through through a “perfect a “perfect partnership partnership with with Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza.” Pizza.” Immediately Immediately following following thethe rebuild, rebuild, they they partnered partnered with with Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza Pizza and and haven’t haven’t doubted doubted that that decision decision to to thisthis day. day. “Hunt “Hunt Brothers Brothers is very is very professional professional at what at what they they do,” do,” Sue Sue says. says. “We’ve “We’ve tried tried different different pizza pizza brands, brands, and and nothing nothing comes comes close close to to thethe taste taste and and quality quality of of their their food. food. It’sIt’s thethe best best thing thing we’ve we’ve done done forfor ourour store.” store.” With With Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza Pizza currently currently in both in both of of their their stores, stores, thethe Doziers’ Doziers’ second second location location hashas a deli a deli service, service, and and thethe branded branded pizza pizza program program is aisnice a nice addition addition to to that. that. “The “The pizza pizza grows grows thethe overall overall basket basket ring” ring” and and is aisnice a nice complement complement to to existing existing programs, programs, Sue Sue remarks. remarks.

good good pizza pizza and and we we sell sell a bunch a bunch ofof “It’s “It’s it,”it,” Hills Hills says. says. “The “The Grab Grab and and GoGo program program is is perfect perfect forfor lunch.” lunch.” HeHe offers offers numerous numerous specials specials toto make make Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza Pizza accessible accessible toto everyone everyone inin town. town. “It“It helps helps get get lunch lunch crowds crowds inin the the doors doors and and it it gives gives them them anan opportunity opportunity forfor something something different different than than restaurants,” restaurants,” hehe adds. adds. “It’s “It’s fast fast and and ready ready toto eat.” eat.” HisHis current current Hunt Hunt Brother Brother Pizza Pizza Professional Professional hashas done done everything everything they they cancan to to make make sure sure Hills’ Hills’ business business stays stays onon track, track, always always available available to to help help when when needed. needed. Hills Hills hopes hopes hishis partnership partnership with with Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza Pizza continues continues to to benefit benefit hishis local local community community forfor many many years years to to come. come.

BUILDING BUILDINGTRUST TRUSTWITH WITH CONSISTENCY CONSISTENCYAND ANDCOMMUNITY COMMUNITY SUPPORT SUPPORT C-Store: C-Store: Busy Busy Bee Bee Owner: Owner: Elizabeth Elizabeth Waring Waring Location: Location: Lake Lake City, City, Florida Florida Elizabeth Elizabeth Waring’s Waring’s family family areare third-generation third-generation c-store c-store owners owners andand currently currently own own Busy Busy Bee, Bee, a family-owned a family-owned “superstore.” “superstore.” Growing Growing upup in the in the business, business, Waring Waring hashas seen seen thethe industry industry evolve. evolve. One One of her of her keys keys to success to success is aisbranded a branded foodservice foodservice program. program.

Sue Sue adds adds that that they they frequently frequently runrun outout of of pizza pizza since since it’sit’s thethe “number “number one one pizza pizza in town.” in town.” They’ve They’ve had had 300-pizza 300-pizza days, days, which which hashas ledled to to anan investment investment in more in more ovens ovens to to accommodate accommodate thethe high high demand demand forfor pizzas pizzas in their in their community. community. “I wish “I wish more more vendors vendors actually actually took took interest interest in stores in stores likelike Hunt Hunt Brothers Brothers Pizza,” Pizza,” Sue Sue reflects. reflects. “Most “Most Account Account Managers Managers we’ve we’ve worked worked with with have have been been exceptional, exceptional, butbut there’s there’s been been a few a few that that have have gone gone above above and and beyond beyond to to help help ourour store store and and its its local local community.” community.”

AALONG LONGHISTORY HISTORYOF OFSERVING SERVING CONSUMERS CONSUMERSWELL WELL C-Store: C-Store: Hills Hills Citgo Citgo Owner: Owner: Mike Mike Hills Hills Location: Location: Racine, Racine, Ohio Ohio In his In his small small town town onon thethe Ohio Ohio River, River, Mike Mike Hills Hills saw saw thethe opportunity opportunity to to turn turn a small a small convenience convenience store store into into something something special. special. ForFor nearly nearly 2020 years years Mike Mike hashas worked worked together together with with MikeMike HillsHills and and his son his son posepose in front in front of his of c-store. his c-store. Courtesy: Courtesy: MikeMike HillsHills

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“Seeing a recognizable product builds trust and instant credibility,” she notes. The Warings have partnered with plenty of foodservice programs, but their partnership with Hunt Brothers Pizza has been “one of the best partnerships we’ve made.” According to Waring, whose business is currently in five locations and has been a partner of Hunt Brothers Pizza for over eight years, “the Grab and Go program offers customers a great option that is consistent quality and the type of food people will come back to.” She also remarks, “People are one of the keys to success no matter the business.” Hunt Brothers Pizza has done everything they could to assist Waring’s local community. During the pandemic, Busy Bee wanted to ensure they supported the efforts and the additional work truck drivers were having to endure during the last year, so they opened an additional location selling Hunt Brothers Pizza to help them access proper meals while working. Hunt Brothers Pizza also donates yearly to Busy Bee’s charity at their local golf tournament. Most importantly, Waring notes that “Hunt Brothers Pizza is a contributor to the community and participates in many events to support us, even though they don’t directly benefit from the event.”

ADAPTABILITY DURING TOUGH TIMES C-Store: Jet Food Stores Director of Food Operations: Matthew Turner Location: 54 Locations Across Georgia Purchased as a new business venture, Jet Food Stores began as a 19-store chain and now operates at over 50 locations. “Drawing customers to our quality foodservice experience has been key to growing existing locations and entering new markets,” Turner says. For Turner, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a unique time in which the company’s care for its customers shone through, from keeping operations as consistent as possible to continuing as a reliable source for a great meal. “Offering quality foodservice in towns that do not have much available

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Turner gathers with his team. Courtesy: Matthew Turner

to them has been great,” he says, “Our customers had a fresh, local option any time of day, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The growth of the take-home business during COVID-19 was tremendous, and Hunt Brothers Pizza is one of the best programs to have in place for takeout,” he adds. “We had the chance to grow the evening daypart in stores that do not typically offer evening foodservice.” The company also partnered with Jet to thank local law enforcement and healthcare workers in several communities. “We gave away free Hunk A Pizza®s and whole pizzas as a thank you to those who served our communities tirelessly during the pandemic,” Turner recalls. “We look forward to impacting more communities in the future in the same way.”

UNPARALLELED SERVICE AND SUPPORT

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Guided by their values and principles, Hunt Brothers Pizza has grown by focusing on being a blessing to each store. One main way this comes to life is through Account Managers who provide direct store delivery. For example, Busy Bee’s current Account Manager has gone “above and beyond” meeting all of the Waring family’s needs. His, along with the overall company’s, genuine passion to see smaller businesses succeed has helped their flow of business become “absolutely seamless.”

“The Hunt Brothers team in our area runs a great, consistent operation and has been dedicated to growing our program,” adds Turner. “They assist with promotions, community engagement and problem solving when we run into issues.”

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LOOKING AHEAD TO YEARS OF BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS Without strong partnerships with customers, Hunt Brothers Pizza couldn’t have enjoyed the 30 years of growth we celebrate today. The company puts their customers first because without customer dedication, growth would be hard to come by. “Something we’ve learned is to keep it simple,” Hunt says, “We understand convenience stores, and our products haven’t changed over time.” From the moment the original Hunt Brothers wanted to do things differently, an exciting new opportunity for c-store owners came to life. With 8,000 stores actively benefiting from Hunt Brothers Pizza’s leadership in the industry, many more are sure to follow, promoting the brothers’ original vision of being a blessing for years to come.

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3/16/21 1:34 PM


Weathering The Storm

A Convenience Store News Series Proudly Underwritten by Reynolds Reynolds is proud to partner with Convenience Store News to bring you meaningful insights on growing and protecting your business.


SERIES ON SPECIAL REPORT: COPING WITH THE UNIQUE FRICTIONLESSOF ENGAGEMENT CHALLENGES THE YEAR AHEAD

Sponsored by

Weathering the Storm: Part III Advocating and promoting women leadership in the c-store sector is crucial In this third and final installment of a series of articles exploring how convenience stores are coping with the unique challenges they face in the year ahead, Convenience Store News examines the need for greater reliance on women leaders in this changing industry. By Debby Garbato BACK IN THE 1960S, Casey’s

was a rural chain serving small midwestern communities. Today, small towns represent about half of its locations, with Casey’s General Stores Inc. also operating in Chicago, Omaha, Kansas City, and other larger markets with diverse populations. Serving customers efficiently requires a diverse workforce with myriad backgrounds and perspectives. Underlying that is a flexible corporate culture that embraces change from the corner office on down. But being based in Ankeny, Iowa, limits Casey’s pool of diverse candidates. So, the convenience store retailer’s leadership has broadened some of its searches to a nationwide audience to attract talent of varied backgrounds, skills, viewpoints and experiences, as well as diversity by gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. Today, 33 percent of its corporate officers and 50 percent of its board members are women. Among the Casey’s team as a whole, 14.5 percent identify as diverse. To foster communication and growth, Casey’s developed

an in-house women’s organization, which offers networking, educational and philanthropic opportunities. The group is known as iWill, which stands for Women Inspired to Lift and Lead. “In New York, it may be easier to more readily enhance diversity within an organization,” said Julie Jackowski, Casey’s chief legal officer and secretary, who last year was honored as one of five Women of the Year in Convenience Store News’ Top JULIE JACKOWSKI Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards program. “However, because Iowa has a less diverse population, over the past two years, we’ve been doing more nationwide searches, especially for the professional positions, looking at diversity in terms of gender, race, diversity of thought, and people from various business AUGUS T

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SPECIAL REPORT: COPING WITH THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES OF THE YEAR AHEAD

experiences so we don’t become stagnant. Diversity brings different ideas and approaches, which ultimately works to better serve the wants and needs of our guests.” Historically, Casey’s has promoted from within. But with 2,300-plus stores across 17 states and increased demand for specialized skills, it needed to cast wider nets. “Many people ‘grew up’ at Casey’s and worked their way up the chain, which led to more men in leadership positions,” said Jackowski, who became Casey’s first female corporate officer in 2004. “As an emphasis has been placed on hiring for specialized skills and a diverse team, Casey’s has become even more successful in creating a culture that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).” Many c-store chains tell similar stories. They started as family businesses, handing the reins over to male heirs. But over the past decade or so, many have grown through acquisitions while others were gobbled up by competitors or corporate investors with aggressive growth plans. Moving beyond their home markets increased competition and brought varied customer bases. This has made them less driven by operations and more focused on branding and marketing — and this new strategy demands a flexible, diverse workforce. “Most companies had humble beginnings. Now, they’re on their second or third generation of family leadership or were acquired by major companies,” said Haskel Thompson, president of his eponymous Fort Myers, Fla.-based executive search firm. “They’re trying to go beyond Bubba and transition HASKEL THOMPSON to create a diverse business. Will it be brand and technology driven? Have new concepts and drive-thrus? You must change the culture to make this work. This must be top-driven. But the industry continues to be male dominated. The shift only began over the last 10 years.”

Champions of Diversity Today, many c-stores and their constituents have diversity strategies, some more formal than others. Some companies have appointed people to executive positions focused on DEI. Others are more focused on networking and mentoring groups headed by volunteers. In May, Performance Food Group Co. (PFG) named Claudia Mills vice president of diversity and inclusion. Mexican-born Mills was formerly director of inclusion, diversity and equality at Altria Group Inc. At Naperville, Ill.-based Eby-Brown Co., part of the PFG family of companies, another TWIC Woman of the Year Sarah Bibbs, vice president of merchandising, noted that many companies in the industry are now beefing up diversity efforts. “Over the past 16 to 18 months, it’s been exciting to see many corporations acknowledge and implement changes,” Bibbs said. “Many have followed CSNews’ 24 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

lead in acknowledging top women in the industry. That’s extremely encouraging.” In the fall of 2020, Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go LC named Heather Schott manager of equity, diversity and inclusion. Schott spent 23 years at Principal Financial Group, where she held various positions, including AD of diversity and inclusion, and chaired the company’s GLBTA Employee Resource Group. “Diversity has been a priority,” said Niki DePhillips Mason, a 2016 TWIC Woman of the Year and Kum & Go’s senior vice president of store development. She’s also executive sponsor of the retailer’s Women’s Network. “This places someone in the organization to really resource to. [Heather has] done much programming to see how we can bring additional perspective to associates.” Sixty-four percent of Kum & Go’s leaders are female, including store managers. “Different perspectives can lead to better outcomes for employees and customers,” DePhillips Mason added. “It starts with recruiting and how we develop people.” In addition to being a senior female executive, DePhillips Mason is one of few women in retail real estate, overseeing development of 20 to 30 new stores annually. “My parents made me believe I could do anything,” said the senior VP, who joined Kum & Go 19 years ago. “Retail real estate is definitely male-dominated. There are many men on my team. There’s been a few instances where we’ll be doing an in-person deal and the property seller talks to my male counterpart the entire time, not me. It’ll come to the point of decision and the male associate looks at me for answers.” But DePhillips Mason loves her job. Like Casey’s, Kum & Go is serving a more diversified customer base today and in May 2020, she opened the chain’s first urban walk-up store in downtown Des Moines. The non-fuel location is in the Edna Griffin Building. When this site was occupied by a drug store in 1948, Edna Griffin initiated lunch counter sit-ins after the diner refused to serve ice cream to the Black woman and her companions. Art at the store created by Des Moines-based artist Jordan Weber honors Griffin.

Women Helping Women Some companies have created internal organizations to help women network, expand their skillsets, and find mentors. Formed seven years ago, Kum & Go’s Women’s Network emphasizes personal and professional development and community service. Events, group discussions, speaker forums and volunteerism cover everything from mental health and balancing home/work life to systemic racism and how COVID-19 is affecting individuals. “It’s a safe place where people can talk,” said DePhillips Mason. Women’s Network discussions have impacted store-level employees, too. Women workers are now eligible for six weeks of paid maternity leave, plus an additional six weeks at half pay. The store-level workforce also went from being 30 percent full-time to 70 percent.


SPECIAL SERIES ON FRICTIONLESS ENGAGEMENT

“We flipped that,” said DePhillips Mason. “More people now receive benefits. A set schedule gives them a predictable paycheck and facilitates childcare.” Casey’s year-old Leadership Excellence Certification Program helps managers examine how different teams can work together. Its High Potential Program identifies emerging talent and makes sure individuals have development opportunities. And iWill, the women’s affinity group, promotes mentorship, cross-departmental networking, and philanthropy. “It lets people from different parts of the company come together and discuss what’s top of mind or needs more development or education,” said Jackowski. On the supplier side of the c-store industry, the operating companies of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds American Inc. have also made strides in diversity. Today, 35 percent of its management is female. The company’s goal for 2025 is 45 percent. “A diverse organization brings diversity of thought to the table, which is important for an organization to grow and thrive,” said Amanda Hughes, senior scientist in scientific and regulatory affairs at Reynolds. AMANDA HUGHES

Founded in 2019, Reynolds’ Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) supports female employees with networking forums, opportunities to learn about other departments, discussion groups, and community engagement. Hughes is the group’s co-chair. In March, the ERG celebrated Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day by nominating coworkers who represent the ABCs of success: authentic, brave and confident. And for the second year, the group conducted a virtual 5K fundraiser to benefit LEAD Girls of North Carolina, which provides resources to help high-risk teens and girls become active citizens and community leaders. The ERG boasts 400 members. “It’s a place to find support and development,” said Hughes. “We’re our own cheerleaders, supporting and building each other up.” The group caters to women seeking early leadership training, too. This year, Reynolds is expanding its Women’s Leadership Development programming.

A Less Formal Approach Not all companies have specific diversity programs or leaders. At Marietta, Ohio-based Par Mar Oil Co., diversity defines both the workforce and the retailer’s 164 very individualized stores. Sixty-nine percent of employees are women, including Nichole Evans, vice president of accounting and finance; Terri Caldwell, director of retail operations; and Desira Stiers, director of accounting.

Over the past five years, Par Mar has made 113 acquisitions across every type of market. Product mixes encompass common c-store merchandise and, in some cases, specialty food, hardware or pig feed. “It’s a big challenge to bring everyone together, particularly when locations have something different,” DESIRA STIERS said Stiers, who joined Par Mar 10 years ago. “Diversity brings a variety of experience, which is essential to growing and adjusting in an everchanging world.”

“Diversity brings different ideas and approaches, which ultimately works to better serve the wants and needs of our guests.” — Julie Jackowski, Casey’s General Stores Inc.

Five years ago, at both the store and corporate levels, Par Mar began training people to perform multiple functions. “Taking them out of their comfort zone helps build them,” noted Stiers. “We’re always looking at who, in the future, might provide the best options for advancement.” At Carol Stream, Ill.-based Saverino & Associates Inc., JoAnn Saverino is the unofficial diversity champion. Started by her former in-laws in the 1980s, Saverino & Associates went from being a three-person local broker to a comprehensive organization that procures food products for c-stores and vending machines in 25 states. Joann began as an office worker in 1988 before joining the salesforce. She rose to sales manager and started recruiting women. Today, as vice president of sales and marketing, she is one of two female VPs. Two out of six territory managers are also women, as are 10 out of 23 sales reps. “Thirty years ago, it was just the three of us and they kept hiring men. Many women’s skills were overlooked. It was all about, ‘Can they lift a roller grill?’ As time went on, it became more about sales ability. The Saverinos support my recruitment efforts,” she said. Still, Joann acknowledges she is sometimes ignored at client meetings involving male subordinates. “Even though I’m a VP, one distributor spoke directly to my salesperson,” she recalled. But she believes the industry is changing. “It’s common now to attend meetings with female category managers. The industry realizes the job is the job and gender doesn’t matter,” she said. “Some really smart women are getting the opportunity to show how smart they are.” CSN AUGUS T

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SMALL OPERATOR

Should You Join a Franchise? Small operators considering a branded c-store network are wise to do their homework By Renée M. Covino IN THE RETAIL WORLD, it is often more profitable to lead than follow. However, there is an exception to that rule if you are a small operator belonging to a successful franchise network.

“In most cases, the franchisor has already made, and corrected, many of the business mistakes you would likely make, so you can now avoid those mistakes without learning the hard way,” said Dallas, Texas-based attorney Ryan C. Whitfill, a partner at Culhane Meadows, who focuses on all aspects of franchise law. “You also have support of the franchisor and other franchisees to assist you and give advice.” Single-store and small operators in the convenience store industry who are considering joining a branded network must do their homework. Like any business decision, there are pros and cons to consider. On the plus side, small operators can increase their brand recognition — and thus, their sales and

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customer base — by joining a franchise network. They can also purchase gas and other products cheaper due to the purchasing power and economies of scale that are not possible for a mom-and-pop shop. On the minus side are giving up control over operational issues and paying a franchise fee.

Green Lights A franchise network generally provides a tried-and-tested and proven business model with an existing successful track record of product innovation, successful pricing strategies, and a proven promotional paradigm. “This greatly increases the chance of success for franchisees operating under this mantle of goodwill, as opposed to venturing off and starting a new concept without many answers to the foregoing disciplines,” noted Kevin Burke, managing director at Boston-based financial brokerage firm Citizens Capital Markets Inc. The franchisor is responsible for products, pricing and promotions, while the franchisee is responsible for quality, service and cleanliness, which attract traffic. “When both of these partners ‘swim in their own lane,’ it produces synergies and harmonies that can grow


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a company much more rapidly than if one were to embark on a business plan without the benefit of a franchise network,” Burke said. And ultimately, the biggest reason to join a robust franchise network is to cut down the time needed to break even on the initial investment and start making a profit, according to Fazun Kamal, CEO of The Franchise Pros, where she coaches people on making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. “An established brand’s proven processes and systems allow a franchisee to get up and running and make money as quickly as possible,” Kamal pointed out. While many small businesses didn’t make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, most franchises did, noted Mandy Rowe, a franchise development expert in retail. “Franchise networks were able to rely on each other to support innovation, COVID cleaning protocols, PPP loans, and so much more,” she said. In fact, some franchise networks flourished during the pandemic. “Especially those at the heart of a community, selling fresh and other produce and providing a delivery service,” added Penny Hopkinson, a franchise specialist based in the United Kingdom.

The Top 10 Gas Station Franchises for 2021 The best gas station franchises in the United States incorporate petroleum, a convenience store, and a fast-food restaurant business, according to TopFranchise.com. Franchise leaders in the industry also offer a reputable brand name, experience in choosing a location and store design, proven suppliers, assistance with registration, and more. For 2021, the top 10, as rated by the worldwide franchise directory, are:

• Shell Founded in 1833 Franchising since 1907

• Circle K Founded in 1951 Franchising since 1995

• BP Founded in 1909 Franchising since 1996

• ampm Founded in 1975 Franchising since 1979

• Chevron/ExtraMile Founded in 1879 Franchising since 2007

• Street Corner Founded in 1988 Franchising since 1995

• Phillips 66 Founded in 1927 Franchising since 2012

• Dash In Founded in 1979 Franchising since 1979

• 7-Eleven Founded in 1927 Franchising since 1964

• RaceTrac Founded in 1934 Franchising since 1934

Red Flags On the other side of the coin, the main drawbacks of joining a franchise, according to Whitfill, are giving up control over operational issues and paying franchise fees. “As a franchisee, the mom-and-pop, which has been 100 percent in control, will be required to change how they do things, and they will be subject to franchise fees and royalties that do not apply to independent businesses,” he explained. Also, while a small operator will still own their business, it is important to understand that a franchised business must operate in accordance with the franchisor’s standards and specifications. “Some franchisees make the mistake of buying a franchise and then trying to operate it outside of the standards and specifications established by the franchisor. That approach usually does not turn out well; it can lead to poor performance, as well as disputes,” Whitfill advised. New York City-based attorney David Azrin, who heads up Gallet

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Source: TopFranchise.com, as of April 2021

Dreyer & Berkey’s franchise law practice and represents startup and established convenience franchisors and franchisees, offers a “cautionary tale” of becoming a franchisee. “For someone who already has an existing retail business, they will basically be handing over the business to the franchisor by joining a franchise network,” he told Convenience Store News. “In a franchise arrangement, the franchisee does not truly own the business; rather, the franchisee only gets to use the name and the system for a specified period of time. When it ends, the franchisee can no longer stay in that type of business because the franchise agreement contains a non-competition provision, which prevents the former franchisee from operating in that business at that location or nearby. In contrast, if a person owns their own retail business, they truly ‘own’ it in the sense that they control the inventory, pricing, the lease, and they can pass it down to their children.” Azrin has heard people say that being a c-store franchisee is like paying to be an employee. “Many convenience store franchisors control every aspect


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of the business — the franchisor controls the building and leases it to the franchisee, the franchisor orders and selects the inventory, the franchisor controls the money coming in and going out of the business account, [and] the franchisor controls pricing and marketing.”

“An established brand’s proven processes and systems allow a franchisee to get up and running and make money as quickly as possible.”

He strongly urges operators considering the option to ask themselves what they will get out of the arrangement that they are unable to do themselves. As Azrin — Fazun Kamal, The Franchise Pros sees it, where such an arrangement makes sense is if an operator does not have “the entrepreneurial spirit” or if they are existing franchisees of that system who were specifically looking for training and “handholding.” independent operators before joining the franchise. “Those franchisees will have great insight into the pros and cons The best advice, according to Azrin and can provide real-world advice on how best to make and many experts, is to talk to as that transition a successful one,” he said. many current and former franchisees as possible. “The franchise disclosure document contains a list of current Ask Before Leaping franchisees and the franchisees who left Before jumping on a franchise opportunity, potential the system in the past year,” he said. “Talk c-store franchisees need to ask tough questions, to as many of them as possible. Just pick both of themselves and of the franchise network up the phone and call them. That is the they’re considering. only way to really find out what it is like to be a franchisee for that system.” Burke of Citizens Capital Markets said operators should examine the brand strengths, market share, product Whitfill agrees, but emphasizes that innovation capabilities, and the recurrent sales, margin small operators considering joining and cash flow from franchise networks before they make a franchise system should talk with any decision.

30 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


SMALL OPERATOR

Key questions retailers should ask themselves, according to Whitfill, are: • What are my financial and personal goals for the business and how do I see the franchise opportunity fulfilling those goals? • Do I have a good understanding of the financial resources needed to launch the franchised business and do I have sufficient resources to do so? • Am I comfortable following a business operating system and processes established and required by the franchisor (as opposed to making my own systems and processes)? He underscored that each business owner is different, so each person should carefully consider their individual goals and motivations before becoming a franchisee. Key questions Whitfill believe retailers should ask the potential franchisor are: • What systems of training, support and marketing has the franchisor developed to help franchisees be successful, and do those systems work well? • Has the franchisor established a strong reputation/brand and goodwill in the community where the retailer currently operates? • How quickly does the franchisor respond when franchisees have issues? • How does the franchisor actively plan and take action to stay ahead of the competition in branding/advertising, new products, etc.? • How are existing franchisees performing from a financial standpoint? • How has the franchise system been affected by COVID-19? If negatively, how has the franchise system adjusted to meet the challenges? Have the franchised businesses’ financial results begun to return to pre-COVID levels? CSN 32 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

TravelCenters of America’s Franchise Transformation You could say that TravelCenters of America Inc. (TA) is franchise focused as of late. In 2020, the company signed 21 franchise agreements and opened 10 new franchise locations. More than 20 more franchise locations are anticipated to open by the end of this year in Alabama, Georgia, California, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Additionally, TA has more than 80 other potential franchise agreements in its pipeline. Dave Raco, vice president of franchising for TA, shared with Convenience Store News that the company is in the midst of a major transformation. “We are invested in franchising for nationwide network growth and plan to expand our travel center footprint through aligning with passionate business owners looking to build their business,” he told CSNews. “Franchising is a great way to expand into more markets quickly and partner with sophisticated, high-level operators. Many iconic travel centers, and some of the nicest places to stop in this country, are TA franchises.” TA franchisees can participate in fleet fueling contracts, procurement opportunities with TA vendors, and utilize purchasing through TA’s inventory and supply warehouse, according to Raco. Industry-leading training, operational support, sales promotions, participation in TA’s loyalty program, and fuel, biofuel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) supply options are additional franchisee attractions, along with leading-edge technology and site design assistance, he added. Based in Westlake, Ohio, TA is the nation’s largest publicly traded full-service travel center network, which includes more than 270 facilities in 44 states and Canada, principally under the TA, Petro Stopping Centers and TA Express brands. For the past 40 years, it has partnered with franchisees to grow its network. In 2021 and beyond, as part of the company’s transformation, it is accelerating franchising efforts, Raco noted.


SPONSORSHIPS ARE NOW AVAILABLE!

W MEN IN CONVENIENCE OCTOBER 6, 2021 | CHICAGO The 2021 Convenience Store News’ Top Women in Convenience awards program recognizes the integral role women play in convenience retailing. Women will be honored from the retailer, wholesaler and supplier communities in four different categories: AWARD CATEGORIES* • • • •

Women of the Year Senior Level Leaders Rising Stars Mentors

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PAULA LASHINSKY

RACHEL MCGAFFIGAN

RON LOWY

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Associate Brand Director/Northeast 774.212.6455 rmcgaffigan@ensembleIQ.com

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Account Executive/ Classified Advertising 201.855.7615 tkanganis@ensembleIQ.com

Associate Publisher/Midwest 847.894.8134 kfischer@ensembleIQ.com

3/30/21 9:08 AM


COVER STORY

THE

OF THE

BEST This year’s 74 Top Women in Convenience honorees stood out in a record field of entries A Convenience Store News Staff Report

34 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


A

fter a difficult year navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenience store industry is eager to recognize the achievements of its team members. This year’s Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards program was the most competitive yet, as the number of entries received more than doubled from 2020. Now in its eighth year, TWIC is the first and only c-store industry program that recognizes the integral role women play in convenience retailing and celebrates individuals for outstanding contributions to their companies and the industry at large. Honorees include a diverse array of female directors, executives, managers and up-and-comers working for leading c-store retailers, distributors, and supplier companies. TWIC honorees are recognized in four categories: Women of the Year: Retailer, supplier and wholesaler executives of any rank who have had an exceptional impact on the success or direction of their company, as well as a positive impact on the convenience store industry as a whole. These visionaries have steered their companies into new markets, new opportunities, and strong measurable growth. Senior-Level Leaders: Retailer, supplier and wholesaler executives at the level of director or vice president and above who have executed on a strategy and transformed their business in a positive manner. Rising Stars: Retailer, supplier and wholesaler professionals with job titles from store manager to just

below vice president who are making their mark on the industry, even at early stages of their careers. Mentors: Retailer, supplier and wholesaler professionals of any rank who have made an extraordinary effort, and had an exceptional impact, on the careers of their colleagues. The winners are chosen based on nominations received from their peers illustrating accomplishments during the previous 12 months. Judging is conducted by CSNews in collaboration with the Network of Executive Women and the 2021 Top Women in Convenience Advisory Board (which includes the 2020 Women of the Year). From more than 300 nominations judged this year, a record class of 74 female leaders has been selected for recognition. Five Women of the Year, 31 Senior-Level Leaders, 27 Rising Stars and 11 Mentors are being inducted into the 2021 class of Top Women in Convenience. Many in this year’s group have stood out as shining examples of strength, resiliency and adaptability in trying times. They have helped their companies and colleagues not only overcome the many obstacles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but also find ways to thrive. All of the 2021 TWIC winners will be publicly feted for their achievements. The eighth-annual TWIC Awards Gala is scheduled to be held Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis Chicago, against the backdrop of the 2021 NACS Show.

2021 Top Women in Convenience Advisory Board • Sarah Alter, Network of Executive Women

• Julie Jackowski, Casey’s General Stores Inc.

• Kimberli Carroll, Ruiz Foods

• Danielle Holloway, Altria Group Distribution Co.

• Matt Domingo, Reynolds Marketing Services Co. • Natalie Morhous, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. • Anne Flint, EG Group

• Jason Rice, BIC USA Inc.

• Ramona Giderof, Anheuser-Busch

• Ina Strand, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K

AUGUS T

20 21

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COVER STORY

WOMAN OF THE YEAR:

Ericka Ayles Managing Director & Chief Financial Officer Yesway

creating daily operational reporting and establishing realtime and long-term data analysis for strategic initiatives to better understand the bottom line. Ayles studied accounting at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., with a minor in communications. She is also a graduate of the Oxford Saïd Business School Strategic Leadership Programme, and the NACS Financial Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Prior to joining the c-store industry, she worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, New Boston Fund Inc., JDJ Family Office Services, and Brookwood Financial.

of Yesway, part of BW Gas & Convenience Retail LLC, operating 400-plus convenience stores, Ericka Ayles oversees the company’s administrative, financial and risk management operations; directs all company analytics, trend analysis and KPI reporting; and is responsible for reporting to investors. She also serves as a senior advisor to the CEO and chairman, and provides strategic financial input to Yesway’s executive team. AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Ayles played a critical role in Yesway’s acquisition of the 304-store Allsup’s chain, serving as a member of the integration management office. She worked to establish Yesway’s new headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, and complete the integration of the two companies — including achieving $24.4 million in cost synergies in 2020, and positioning the company to achieve an additional $14 million in cost synergies in 2021. “Now that we concluded the integration of Allsup’s, we are currently working on the rollout of Power BI, a visualization and reporting tool, and conducting an assessment of the company’s risk insurance and loss prevention policies,” Ayles told Convenience Store News. She developed a robust reporting platform and data analytics team during a period of significant growth in 2018, which included

36 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“It is important we are always looking for the next generation of leaders and that we are supporting their journeys.” Her favorite thing about her current role is the team she works with and the energy at Yesway, which Ayles said is “palpable.” Her favorite aspect of the convenience store industry is how well information is shared throughout it. “The industry is one of the few I have seen with such an ingrained culture of sharing information and willingness to put the customers first,” she noted. “It is also heartening to see how connected the community is to their local convenience stores.” Active with The Boston Club, whose focus is on the empowerment of women executives in the Boston area, Ayles gets the opportunity to network with other women and give back as well. Over the years, she has seen more women joining the C-suite and boards of directors in the convenience channel, allowing women’s voices to be heard more often. “There is a growing opportunity to have their input considered on things that are important to women,” she said, noting that her advice to other women would be to “bring up the women behind you, regardless of how high up you are in an organization.” She added: “It is important we are always looking for the next generation of leaders and that we are supporting their journeys. This is mentorship at its best.”


COVER STORY

WOMAN OF THE YEAR:

Renee Bacon

Senior Vice President, Sales & Operations Murphy USA Inc.

national contact center, among other core functions,” Bacon told CSNews. Her favorite part of the job is all the moving parts and pieces of running a business, especially leading teams, and all the challenges that come along with it. She gets “energized” by bringing people from different backgrounds and experiences together to solve challenges. “When the group helps bring solutions to those issues and then sees the impact of their decisions on people and processes within a business, it’s almost magical,” Bacon said. RENEE BACON is on a continual quest to learn and grow.

Starting with graduating from high school early and earning a business degree from the University of Texas, she also earned an Executive MBA from the University of Houston, went to law school for a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tennessee’s College of Law, and owned four Marble Slab Creamery franchise locations. Bacon utilizes all of this experience in her current role as senior vice president of sales and operations at Murphy USA Inc., the El Dorado, Ark.-based operator of 1,500 locations in 25 states with more than $11 billion in revenue. Bacon actually started her career in the convenience store industry working for ExxonMobil, where she managed the nationwide rollout of the ExxonMobil MasterCard to customers. After earning her MBA, she worked with Taco Bell before diving into her own franchise business and then eventually returning back to the corporate world with Dollar General. In 2019, she rejoined the c-store industry at Murphy USA to lead its sales and operations teams. “Within the field, I lead three regions with over 9,000 team members; and departments within the corporate office, such as compliance, new store openings, safety, loss prevention, field readiness, communications, field events, and the

38 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“My advice to women is to know yourself and what you stand for — and what you want your legacy to be.” In the past three years at Murphy USA, she has overseen and supported the promotion of 19 team members and development moves from under her umbrella. Bacon is also very involved in the community, having overseen Murphy USA’s efforts to raise more than $1.5 million for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. And in a previous role, she was instrumental in taking the Women’s Professional Network (WPN) from a small home-office program to a broad-reaching field initiative. “Under my ongoing mentorship, women continue to be elevated and empowered, and provided personal and professional opportunities for growth through networking, development and educational opportunities that have made a lasting impact on their lives,” Bacon said. Compared to when she started in the c-store industry years ago, she’s seen the role of women amplified, and noted that the broader representation and increase of women in leadership positions is much more prevalent today than in the past. “My advice to women is to know yourself and what you stand for — and what you want your legacy to be,” she said. “My personal motto is: ‘Show up, work hard, and be kind.’ And I consistently remind myself if I live my motto, I will be proud of my legacy.”


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COVER STORY

WOMAN OF THE YEAR:

Melanie Isbill Chief Marketing Officer RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.

being more digitally focused and data driven, including updating our loyalty offering and capabilities,” she noted. Her favorite thing about the c-store industry is the speed at which it is evolving and changing, and although the industry has been around for a long time, the top players are the ones who continue to evolve their businesses to stay relevant. “None have shied away from trying something new and all have embraced the unknown and, as my dad has always said, made failure their friend,” said Isbill, who noted that the best part of her current role at RaceTrac is the people she works with who challenge and push her every day, and “bring a smile to her face.” BORN INTO THE CONVENIENCE store industry, Melanie Isbill’s grandfather founded Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., and her father grew the business to where it is today, serving consumers at more than 550 stores.

Although she worked as a RaceTrac intern during summers off from school, she officially started her career at Macy’s in the merchandising group and worked in product development for one of its private label brands. She returned to RaceTrac in 2008 as a transportation analyst and then commercial analyst, before leaving for graduate school to obtain an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“I would challenge [women] to recognize it is their differences that make them most valuable.”

Isbill is active within her company as a board member and executive sponsor of LEAD, RaceTrac’s business resource group with a mission to support women with self-development. Outside of RaceTrac, she is a member of the NACS Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council, and a board member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“I returned as a private label senior brand manager, was promoted to director of brand communications, then executive director of marketing, and now chief marketing officer,” Isbill told CSNews. “Today, I am responsible for marketing, merchandising, architecture and design. More specifically, I am accountable for the brand direction and expectations delivered to our guests, in partnership with the operations team.”

Reflecting on the role of women in the industry today, Isbill says she has seen it grow from “a good-old boys club.” She credits women in leadership roles, including Sonja Hubbard, her sister Allison Moran, and others in the industry who have seen strong women in leadership and realized these opportunities were available to them, too.

Current projects she is focused on include developing the chain’s evolving food offer, designing the new direction for store prototypes, overseeing a remodel program, and “transforming marketing to

Her best piece of advice for other women is to be authentic to who they are, without feeling they have to “emulate a man or be someone they aren’t in order to be successful. I would challenge them to recognize it is their differences that make them most valuable.”

40 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“These women have helped the strong male leaders in our industry see the value [that] their diversity of thought has brought to the table, and have helped our industry to grow and evolve along with them,” she said.


The Convenience Distribution Association, representing convenience products distributors across the nation, congratulates all the Top Women in Convenience honorees, with special congratulations to our CDA members: Sandra D’Asaro, Core-Mark International Christina Dokos, Eby-Brown Co. Krystal Forbes, Reynolds American Inc. Jennifer Gurrdock, The Hershey Co. Lisa Meyer, The Hershey Co. Cate Moore, Eby-Brown Co. Teresa Patat, McLane Company, Inc. Kaylie Peduzzi, Altria Group Distribution Co. Kim Reed, ITG Brands, LLC Sara Secondi, Altria Group Distribution Co. Kate Splawn, Reynolds American Inc. Elizabeth Wiles, JUUL Labs, Inc.

www.cdaweb.net

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COVER STORY

WOMAN OF THE YEAR:

Marissa Jarratt Chief Marketing Officer 7-Eleven Inc.

reimagined the annual 7-Eleven Day celebration to avoid crowds in stores by providing 7Rewards members a free Slurpee coupon that was redeemable the entire month of July and donating a million meals to Feeding America. This approach received overwhelmingly positive customer feedback, high numbers of Slurpee coupon redemptions, and was the largest PR announcement of the year for the brand.

IN OCTOBER 2019, Marissa Jarratt joined 7-Eleven Inc. as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, and brought with her more than 20 years of experience from senior leadership positions at several consumer packaged goods companies.

Prior to 7-Eleven, which operates, franchises and licenses more than 77,000 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries and regions, including 16,000 in North America, Jarratt led marketing strategies for PepsiCo’s global premium snacks portfolio, and served as senior vice president and head of marketing and general manager for the Frozen Business Unit at Dean Foods Co. Today, she leads strategy and execution to make 7-Eleven the preferred convenience solution for customers through brand strategy, advertising, media, CRM and owned channels, activation and partnerships, in-store experience, customer insights, corporate communications, and customer care. Since joining the company, Jarratt has set out to rediscover 7-Eleven’s brand purpose and vision, as well as conduct in-depth research allowing the organization to understand unmet needs and drive new appraisal for 7-Eleven. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she and her team had to pivot the brand’s marketing strategy to focus on safety, delivery, and how 7-Eleven carried essentials like toilet paper, water and hand sanitizer. Additionally, she and her team

42 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

In January 2021, Jarratt and her team executed an integrated 360 marketing campaign leaning into the launch of the coveted PlayStation 5. All 7-Eleven shoppers were given the chance to win a PlayStation 5, all 7-Eleven owned channels and in-store marketing were given a gaming look and feel, and 7-Eleven hosted an experiential Gaming Paradise through Airbnb that allowed gaming fans to immerse themselves in a once-in-a-lifetime gaming experience. This spring, she charged forward with a new ad campaign, “Take it to Eleven,” marking the brand’s biggest advertising push in years and the return of TV advertising after five years. In the ads, 7-Eleven highlights some of the communities among its highly diverse customer base to tell diverse stories that embody the “Take it to Eleven” spirit. “Leading a marketing transformation for an iconic, 94-year-old brand like 7-Eleven is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she told CSNews. “Throughout all of the challenges the last year has brought our industry, it’s been rewarding to define our new brand purpose and use it to create personal and unique connections with our customers in ways they wouldn’t expect from us.” Jarratt holds a Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. In the past, she has been named a Top Woman in Grocery by Progressive Grocer and recognized by the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame as a “Rising Star” and a “40 Under 40” brand innovator. She has been involved in several professional groups and volunteer organizations throughout her career, including acting as chairwoman of the board for Good Karma Foods Inc., serving as an executive sponsor for the 7-Eleven Network of Black Professionals, and being a member of the executive committee for MilkPEP and a member of the MSM Advisory Council for the McCombs School of Business.


We may have invented convenience retailing, but these women are helping us reinvent it.

Left to Right:

Siva Surkunalingam, Marissa Jarratt and Anahi Wray

Congratulations to the

7-Eleven 2021 Top Women in Convenience WO MA N O F TH E Y E A R S E N I O R- LEVE L L E A D E R R IS IN G STA R

Marissa Jarratt, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Siva Surkunalingam, Vice President, IT Strategy & Governance Anahi Wray, Senior Category Manager

These three incredibly talented and dedicated women inspire us every day and are a driving force behind 7-Eleven’s success. Thank you for your leadership, creativity and all-around awesomeness.


COVER STORY

WOMAN OF THE YEAR:

Lisa Koenig Head of Global Communications Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./ Circle K

ment, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and global reputation management. She’s also part of the NACS Strategic Communications Group to give back to the industry. Her favorite part of the job is telling the story of ACT, its customers and its commitment to community. “We have tremendous scale and reach from high-rise cities, to Asia, to local neighborhoods in the middle of North America,” she said. “Our company is complicated, but our mission is simple — to make our customers’ lives a little bit easier.”

holds two Walter Cronkite Awards and five Emmy Awards from more than 20 years working in Washington D.C., as a senior producer for ABC News. She joined the convenience store industry in 2015 as director of communications for CST Brands. Following its acquisition in 2017 by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ACT), parent company of Circle K, which operates more than 14,200 stores globally, she became ACT’s first director of North American communications, and then head of global communications in 2020 — just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic.

LISA KOENIG

“Since March 2020, the global communications group has been heavily involved in messaging and content creation around the pandemic and keeping safe our 9 million daily customers and 125,000 team members in 26 countries,” said Koenig, who holds a master’s degree from Oxford University. “This has been no easy task and has been 24/7 work for months as we developed all forms of communications, including executive communications, storelevel FAQs and signage, documentation for all our stakeholders, customer communications, and more.” Koenig leads ACT’s global internal and external communications in Canada, the United States, Europe and other regions. She is responsible for executive, corporate and crisis communications, public relations, strategic leadership and communications for investor relations, employee engage-

44 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“My advice for other women is to do your best today, so you can be prepared to face challenges and welcome opportunities tomorrow.” The way her team responded during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of her proudest moments so far, having created the “In this together” and “Don’t let your COVID guard down” campaigns. Each day brought new challenges, new fears and a new way of working and creating, but both the team and the company have benefited from the challenge, she noted. “Through the crisis, we not only became a better and stronger company, but we also became a better and stronger communications team. I could not be prouder of the ACT global communications team,” Koenig said. Although she has only been in the industry for a few years, she says she has seen a “profound change” in the role of women. When she joined ACT, both Chief People Officer Ina Strand and Chief Technology Officer Deb Hall Lefevre were just joining the executive leadership team. Since then, the number of women in executive leadership has more than doubled, according to Koenig, who’s also been instrumental in creating and developing ACT’s Women’s Council, now a thriving and influential business resource group within the company. “My advice for other women is to do your best today, so you can be prepared to face challenges and welcome opportunities tomorrow,” she said.


WOMAN OF THE YEAR

LISA KOENIG

Head of Global Communications

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADER

SUZANNE POIRIER Vice President Global Finance and Supply Chain Optimization

CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN STORE TO

OUR WINNERS! Each of these women shine a bright light on the company as they bring their passion, creativity, and talent to Circle K. We are proud that they have been recognized among the Top Women in Convenience 2021. To them, and all the amazing winners, congratulations!

RISING STAR

CYNTHIA HERRERA Regional Director of Operations West Coast

If you’re looking to grow within a global company, let’s grow together! Get to know us by visiting workwithus.circlek.com

MENTOR

BEKA JACKSON Director of Food Service Project Management Global Marketing


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

ATINA ABRAHAM Director, Women’s Wellness – Walgreens Team Procter & Gamble • Abraham oversees a more than $200-million business across key women’s wellness categories. Her business ranks among the top five customer teams for North America feminine care. • Abraham has transformed the way Procter & Gamble goes to market in sanitary and incontinence, according to her nominator. Her leadership led to research that uncovered new insights and links to health, leading to new product innovation streams. She also helped launch the “End Period Poverty” campaign, which has made more than eight million period products accessible to those in need of proper menstrual health and hygiene. • An avid mentor to multiple new hires, Abraham is passionate about enabling a winning culture, and focuses on developing her teams into future leaders.

BRITTANY BAYLEY Vice President of Marketing Huck’s • Bayley helps guide the direction and impact of the Huck’s Bucks loyalty program. Her contributions to the brand, its customers and its network of employees have been instrumental in Huck’s continued success and traction in the convenience store market. • During the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her team carefully tracked shoppers’ behaviors and preferences and implemented a strategic loyalty solution to deliver on the brand’s high standards for customer experience. • Bayley also oversees an employee-only gifting campaign with food and fuel discounts, as well as free merchandise, to boost recruiting and hiring initiatives while showing sincere appreciation for Huck’s family of essential c-store workers.

DAWN BOULANGER Vice President of Marketing Tri Star Energy • Boulanger guides the Tri Star Energy marketing team and simultaneously executes the needs of the company’s three brands: Twice Daily, Sudden 46 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Service, and White Bison Coffee. Her duties include brand development, integrated marketing strategy, plan development and execution, content, and budget management. • In 2017, she helped create the White Bison Coffee brand, which has grown from one standalone location to 14 sites in two markets. In addition to guiding White Bison’s brand identity, Boulanger immersed herself in the world of coffee, visiting coffee farms in El Salvador and meeting workers and families that migrated with the growing and harvesting season. She implemented this real-life experience into White Bison’s marketing and menu. • Boulanger is also known for championing the Twice Daily brand’s charitable giving to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The company recently celebrated $3.4 million being donated to the hospital.

SANDRA D’ASARO Vice President of Sales Development, Analytics & Technology Core-Mark International • D’Asaro leads customer and consumer facing technology solutions, including CoreMark’s Focused Marketing Initiative program, sales development, and the analytics team. As part of the distributor’s senior leadership, she has led multiple broader strategic projects outside of her day-to-day position. • Supporting and providing resources across the entirety of Core-Mark’s footprint in the United States and Canada, D’Asaro has significant influence on how the company leverages technology to connect and enable customers, deliver compelling business insights, and provide data-driven marketing plans. • In 2020, D’Asaro negotiated an exclusive wholesale agreement with PDI to deliver loyalty, scan data and back-office solutions to the Core-Mark customer base. She also led a transformation of the Core-Mark sales team through developing innovative technology tools to optimize efficiency and performance.

SIMRAN DHALIWAL EMAUS Vice President of Operations, Now Save Stores CEO, Dhaliwal Distributing dba ZARCO


Congratulations to our

Top Women in Convenience Honorees

Polly Flinn

President, GetGo Café + Market

Shannon Patrick

Sr. Manager of Fuel Supply & Distribution, GetGo Café + Market

We’re honored to work with you and to celebrate this incredible, well-deserved recognition. Your GetGo Café + Market Family


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

• In her multifaceted role, Dhaliwal Emaus spearheads real estate development and new site builds while managing sales, operations and construction activities at Now Save Stores and leading a newly founded energy company with the mission of establishing infrastructure and distributing fuel, as well as alternative energy sources.

• Among her recent accomplishments are bringing Casey’s new “Here for Good” communication strategy to life while leading the development of its visual identity and logo. Alongside this brand transformation, she and her team refocused the retailer’s corporate giving strategy to amplify the impact Casey’s is having in the communities it serves.

• Dhaliwal Emaus’ belief in digital and mobile marketing has allowed her partners at Motiva 76 to deliver more engagement and more traffic to her stores. She has been named a University of Louisiana—Monroe Businesswoman of the Year and in 2015, appeared on “Louisiana’s Top 20 Under 40” list.

• Elfers currently leads the ongoing evolution of Casey’s media investment, driving impact and efficiency along the way.

• She is known for building a diverse team of employees that mirrors the communities they serve, and helping Now Save Stores give back to their neighborhoods with a particular emphasis on education.

CHRISTINA DOKOS Senior Director, Marketing & Communications Eby-Brown Co. LLC • Dokos joined Eby-Brown after building a reputation for strategic marketing in the technology and financial industries. Today, she oversees brand strategy, foundations, media, communications, design and innovative direction for the company. She directs high-profile, customer-facing events for Eby-Brown and is a critical link in the recruitment of business, overseeing the development of presentations, messaging and proposals. • She led the effort to create a foodservice identity for Eby-Brown that resonates with customers and has a distinct visual appeal. • Dokos developed the marketing team from the ground up and continually drives her colleagues toward professional and personal growth. Her nominator called her “the glue and the grease” at Eby-Brown, with a keen vision and foresight when it comes to bettering the c-store industry.

MEGAN ELFERS Vice President of Marketing Casey’s General Stores Inc. • Elfers leads brand strategy, integrated marketing planning, advertising and communications at Casey’s, where she works with her team and agency partners to keep the brand contemporary and relevant. 48 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

MEGHANN ERHART Vice President, Business Process Improvement & Robotics Pilot Flying J • Since joining Pilot in 2007, Erhart has overseen key strategic initiatives in sales, technology, trucking, logistics, and guest services. She is a proven leader with deep experience at the highest levels of the industry, her nominator noted. With a business focus, she currently leads the quality assurance, robotics process automation, and guest services teams, who are dedicated to helping the company grow its technology presence through efficiencies, automation, and exceptional customer service. • In 2020, Erhart accepted a new role focused on boosting productivity and profitability through technology-driven business process improvement, quality assurance, and legacy platform reengineering. In less than a year, she created a roadmap with an “optimize, improve, automate” agenda, allowing the company to pursue an aggressive transformation agenda. • Erhart is lauded for being an innovator, strategist and thought leader, all while leading with integrity, humility and accountability.

POLLY FLINN President GetGo Café + Market • Flinn sets the strategy and oversees all corporate and operational functions for the entire GetGo organization. Her nominator called her “a people, brands and business builder” who excels in creating marketing and brand strategy and leading its execution. • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Flinn provided exceptional leadership while balancing focus between shortterm challenges and long-term goals. She mentored and developed team members at all levels, and made herself available to listen, guide and challenge. Flinn is famous for saying: “If you need anything, it’s 1-800-Polly.”


Congratulations!

Dedication. Skill. Expertise.

Christina Dokos

Cate Moore

Senior Director of Marketing Honored as a SENIOR LEVEL LEADER

Strategic Insights Assistant Manager Honored as a RISING STAR

Congratulations to Eby-Brown’s Christina Dokos and Cate Moore, recognized as 2021 TOP WOMEN IN CONVENIENCE. Their dedication and achievement are reflected in the success of our company, and their unwavering commitment and determined work ethic are points of admiration for us all.

We are so proud of their accomplishments!


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

• As an innovator, Flinn recognized GetGo’s ability to serve as a grocery destination, pushed for menu experimentation, and cleared the way to reinvent the company’s digital ordering program, resulting in a significant increase in mobile ordering and payment.

SUSAN FLYNN Director of National Sales – QuikTrip The Coca-Cola Co. • Flynn is responsible for the joint business planning process with QuikTrip, which includes managing P&L for the full portfolio of Coca-Cola brands. She oversees all routes to market, including bottle and can sales, dispensed and warehouse sales. Under her guidance, 2020 saw strong results despite a tough environment. • She is known to provide strong leadership to both her direct team and cross-functional partners, ensuring that team members are empowered to take ownership in making decisions to drive the business forward and achieve common objectives. Her nominator described her team leadership during challenging times as “fantastic.” • Flynn also leads the Folds of Honor relationship with QuikTrip and developed programming that has resulted in more than $2.2 million in donations to the nonprofit organization that helps families of those who have fallen in combat.

KRYSTAL FORBES Senior Director – San Francisco Region Reynolds Marketing Services Co. • Forbes leads a high-performing trade team of 75 individuals, covering approximately 10,000 conveniencegas and non-traditional retail outlets valued at $225 million in annual sales revenue. During her time with Reynolds, she has been a leader and mentor in every role she’s held, proving it is possible to demonstrate leadership at all levels. • She has a track record of delivering high levels of customer support and exceeding commercial goals as a result of building and maintaining collaborative relationships with customers, cross-functional teams, and influential stakeholders. • According to her nominator, Forbes is a Change 50 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Champion who has successfully led teams through rapid business and organizational transformation. She is known for being driven by insatiable curiosity, innovative brand portfolios, and a passion for people.

ELIZABETH HOFFER Director of Commissary Operations CEFCO Convenience Stores • Hoffer joined CEFCO in 2020 to design and implement the chain’s multimilliondollar commissary and warehouse facility. Based on her extensive industry knowledge and experience, she has tremendous influence on the retailer’s overall foodservice business strategy and direction, ensuring that all decisions are made from both a people and profitability standpoint. • Her nominator described her as “one of the most ambitious people that I have ever met” and someone who does not believe in the words “cannot be done.” • Known as a natural leader who serves as a mentor within the organization, Hoffer seeks to consistently challenge thinking, and help people grow personally and professionally. She also has a passion for people with special needs and won the 2018 Employer of the Year Award with Goodwill Industries for Job Placement for People with Barriers.

MARY JAMES Director of Retail Operations Duchess Convenience Stores • James started in a cashier position with Duchess and over her 31-year career, has continually risen through the ranks. Before assuming her current role, she held positions including assistant manager, manager, auditor, and district manager. • Today, she is responsible for the daily operations of approximately 60 stores and has oversight of six district managers. She influences all facets of the business and plays an integral role in the growth, goals and future direction of Duchess. • James serves as a mentor to many corporate and


SE NIO R L EAD ER

Krystal Forbes Senior Director San Francisco Region

RIS IN G S TAR

Kate Splawn Account Executive

Congratulations!

You’re making an amazing mark on our industry. Congratulations to all of the 2021 Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience honorees, including our outstanding Reynolds colleagues.


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

retail-level employees. Her nominator pointed to the kindness, poise and true leadership that make her an outstanding senior-level employee, and called her a problem-solver who constantly goes out of her way to assist with issues.

DENISE JENKINS Vice President, Marketing, Insights & Loyalty United Dairy Farmers Inc. • Jenkins oversees brand marketing strategy, innovation pipeline and execution for United Dairy Farmers’ (UDF) retail, wholesale and CPG manufacturing businesses, from c-stores and retail fuel to multiple ice cream brands and fresh bakery products. • She is a successful brand-builder who directed private brands marketing for 7-Eleven and now leads UDF’s private brands and branded ice cream product lines. During her previous advertising career, she launched 11 new products for other companies. • Jenkins has led numerous initiatives for UDF, including the launch of the plant-based product line Homemade Brand Dairy Free, and the brand design and introduction of Hi-Five, a new guest experience initiative. Her current priority is evolving the U-Drive retail loyalty program to be best-in-class, including a new customized mobile platform and an upcoming U-Drive relaunch that will introduce new ways to customize offers and enable savings on gasoline and in-store merchandise.

THERESA KINDLEY Category Manager ExtraMile Convenience Stores • Kindley is responsible for the dispensed and packaged non-alcoholic beverage categories, where she develops strategies and tactics to drive performance for the entire ExtraMile network. She oversees a range of marketing initiatives, including assortment, promotional planning, recommended pricing levels, merchandising, and supplier management. • She works with supplier partners, multiple 52 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

ExtraMile convenience store departments, and directly with field personnel to execute on strategic initiatives. She also creates multiple types of programming in order to deliver maximum value to the franchisee network. • With more than 20 years of experience across multiple category management, analytics and pricing roles, Kindley excels in communication and problem-solving skills, according to her nominator. She is known for building strong industry relationships, being collaborative, and focusing on results.

RACHEL KRUPA Founder & CEO The Goods Mart • Krupa opened The Goods Mart — which carries nothing but better-for-you, accessible and socially conscious goods — after being inspired to inspire others. She curates and builds relationships with all the brands in the store, hand-selects every product, manages the finances, and handles community outreach, e-commerce, marketing and public relations. • She expanded the store’s influence into humanitarian realms. During the pandemic, she created The Surprise Snack Box campaign, enabling people to donate care packages to healthcare workers. She also created the Black Founded Snack Box, giving customers the option to donate to the Black Women’s Blueprint organization, and has pledged 15 percent of The Goods Mart’s shelf space to Black-owned brands. • In addition to leading The Goods Mart, Krupa has launched numerous brands that share a common ethos of mindful practices and a mission to do better.

ANNE LIVERMORE Director of Sales – West Tyson Foods • Livermore is responsible for the execution of channel strategy, key customer engagement, brokering network oversight, and team metrics in the western half of the U.S. She draws upon her broad experience across


CELEBRATING TOP WOMEN IN CONVENIENCE

Susan Flynn

Sara Shankman

Director of Sales QuikTrip

Sr. Customer Marketing Manager

Cheers to all the 2021 Top Women in Convenience! And a special thank you to our Coca-Cola winners for refreshing the world and making a difference through your remarkable contributions. You are an indispensable ingredient in our secret formula. Congratulations!

©2021 The Coca-Cola Company


80+ BRANDS

Founded in 1909, the

Milton Hershey School prepares kids in need for

success in life.

Bringing Goodness

to the world -SINCE 1894-

heartwarming the world.

Sold in

90

Countries


y

17,000 remarkable PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD

Congratulations to our Hershey Team Members named as 2021 Top Women in Convenience

Lisa Meyer Senior Leader

Jennifer Gurdock Rising Star

Senior Director Customer Strategy & Portfolio Management The Hershey Company

U.S. Convenience Operations Manager The Hershey Company


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

multiple categories, ranging from retail snacking to foodservice, to drive success. • In addition to overseeing the personal and professional growth of her five-person team, Livermore takes an active role in all team member onboarding, industry events and customer events in support of everything convenience. • She has a passion for the complexity and diversity of the channel and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. Her nominator called her a great motivator and a great leader.

LISA MEYER Senior Director, C-store Sales Planning The Hershey Co. • Meyer has oversight of the entire small-format business at Hershey. Over her 30 years with the company, she has been instrumental in helping build the c-store division. • Throughout her career, she has achieved progressively greater leadership roles. According to her nominator, Meyer is well respected by the entire executive team for her many contributions to the organization. • She is active in numerous industry organizations, such as NACS and the Network of Executive Women, as well as the Hershey Project Fellowship with the Milton Hershey School. She is also a leader in the Women’s Mentoring Program, a part of Hershey’s business resource groups.

TERESA PATAT National Account Manager McLane Co. Inc.

her desire for advancement and knowledge. • In 2020, Patat was involved in a months-long RFP process and was instrumental in the gathering and dissemination of data and preparing, managing and presenting the product price files in an accurate manner that was key to negotiations. Her knowledge and key relationships helped define McLane’s proposals going into the process.

SUZANNE POIRIER Vice President, Global Finance & Supply Chain Optimization Alimentation CoucheTard Inc./Circle K • When she joined CoucheTard three years ago, Poirier was one of the first female senior leaders on the finance team and quickly became a trailblazer. In 2020, she stepped up to her current role, becoming the firstever female vice president on that team. • Recent accomplishments include leading the implementation of accounting-related processes in relation to Couche-Tard’s new supply chain partnership with Musket, establishing new dashboards for real estate projects, and coordinating the budgeting process for commercial optimization that links goals to Circle K’s vision and strategy. • In addition to serving as a mentor by shattering glass ceilings, Poirier is active in Couche-Tard’s Women’s Council and plays a critical role on its COVID Core Crisis Team. Both rely on her analytical ability for benchmarking and strategic development.

LAUREN QUAGLIA National Channel Manager – Convenience Boston Beer Co.

• Patat is responsible for a $7.5-million sales budget while working with divisional leadership and corporate merchandising to ensure quality service levels in all areas. She has built a mutually beneficial and strong partnership with RaceTrac Petroleum leadership while maintaining sales and profitability for McLane.

• As leader of the c-store national account team, Quaglia is responsible for all retailers national in scope and provides overall guidance to independent and regional chains. She works cross functionally with brand, trade marketing and category management teams to develop dynamic programming and strategies to win in the convenience class of trade.

• During her more than 25 years with the distributor, she has continually grown within the company as well as the supply chain community based on

• Her duties also align closely with Boston Beer’s local sales divisions, and she spearheads the conversation around the channel to drive both execution and focus.

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A RECOGNITION WELL DESERVED SENIOR-LEVEL LEADER TERESA PATAT NATIONAL ACCOUNT MANAGER

Congratulations to our own Teresa Patat on being recognized by Top Women in Convenience 2021. With your determined work ethic, dedication to customers, and unwavering commitment to the industry, we are proud of your accomplishments and honored to celebrate this award with you.

© 2021 McLane Company, Inc. All rights reserved.


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SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

• According to her nominator, Quaglia has championed the convenience channel for Boston Beer and elevated its capabilities across many different facets. She manages and motivates her team, speaks to the importance of the channel with senior leadership, and helps build sales and marketing efforts to drive results.

KIM REED President & CEO ITG Brands • Reed is responsible for the U.S. arm of Imperial Brands and oversees a more than $3-billion business, its largest market. In her previous role as executive vice president of sales, she designed and oversaw a comprehensive sales transformation strategy that encompassed ITG Brands’ largest-ever external recruitment for field sales. • Other achievements include building strong national accounts and customer trade marketing teams, as well as developing new capabilities for joint business planning, selling fundamentals and category management, resulting in new category captainships. She delivered top sustainable share results as a category leader across the tobacco portfolio. • Reed is a champion for a diverse and inclusive culture and has personally made it an imperative to hire the best diverse talent. The most recent sales transformation at ITG Brands brought on 50 percent of hires that are diverse.

MERLIX REYNOLDS Executive Director of Accounting RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. • A 20-year accounting industry veteran and a licensed certified public accountant in the state of Georgia, Reynolds is responsible for leadership of RaceTrac’s consolidated

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and affiliate financial reporting accounts payables, fixed asset accounting, and financial systems and processes. • One of her significant business accomplishments was leading the implementation of Workday Financials, RaceTrac’s new enterprise resource planning system. • In addition to her accounting role, Reynolds was instrumental in developing the diversity and inclusion business resource group structure at RaceTrac. She was a founding member of EMBRACE, the business resource group for team members who identify as people of color. She currently serves as both the executive sponsor and steering committee lead.

ADRIENE ROBINS Director of Marketing OnCue Marketing • In her 19 years with OnCue, Robins has taken on many roles, making her uniquely equipped to oversee the operator’s adoption of Kickback Points rewards, Zenput task management systems, Market Link, Market Basket, and the beginning stages of the OnCue app — all of which have come about in the last two years. • A point of pride for Robins is OnCue’s graphics department, which she directs. Starting with one person laminating signs in the office, the team now has four full-time graphic designers and often a college intern to assist. • In spite of recent challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, she fostered quick innovation, including being able to start delivery services and curbside pickup in an astonishing two-week window after the shutdowns began.

TONYA ROBINSON Director of Store Operations Thorntons • Robinson leads a diverse team of region managers who operate stores in four states. Her team also includes a division sales manager and division foodservice manager.


PRESENTED BY CONVENIENCE STORE NEWS

Congratulations to our new President and CEO, KIM REED, for being named one of the TOP WOMEN IN CONVENIENCE.

CONGRATS KIM!


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

• Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and store impacts from social unrest in local communities, Robinson recently delivered record results with the most profitable EBITDARI year in the history of Thorntons.

the company’s strategic-planning processes, forging new working relationships and synergies across the organization, and establishing greater transparency and accountability for those carrying out the company’s strategy.

• Under Robinson’s leadership, her division delivered to budget on fuel gross profit and c-store gross profit while continuing to grow her food business by adding 36 new kitchens, managing new store growth, and completely renovating all stores in the Nashville region.

• She is directly responsible for leading Sheetz’s strategy, information technology and innovation teams, with nearly 200 employees across the organization. She also provides leadership to the newly formed Sheetz Innovation Incubator, located in Pittsburgh.

SARA SECONDI Senior Account Manager Altria Group Distribution Co. • Secondi has spent the first 11 years of her career advancing in a variety of roles within the Northeast Sales Region for Altria Group Distribution Co. She currently works as a senior account manager, leading the strategic direction of Altria’s operating companies for EG America. • She led her account through a major acquisition and is progressing its performance of Altria’s brand portfolio in the digital space and growth product segment. Secondi devises and develops creative solutions for new and emerging categories together with the EG America Tobacco Leadership Team. • Her success has been driven by her work ethic, ability to form strong business partnerships, and knowledge of the industry. She is an active member of the Network of Executive Women and holds a leadership role within Altria’s Northeast Region Women in Sales Network.

EMILY SHEETZ MANDEL Vice President of Strategy & Information Technology Sheetz Inc. • Sheetz Mandel’s primary responsibilities include formalizing

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• Sheetz Mandel helped launch the Sheetz Café project, which is an innovation concept that reimagines the Sheetz experience without gas.

LINDY SMITH Senior Director of Category Management Maverik Inc. • Smith leads strategic direction for product categories and the vendor supply chain to grow profit and margin at Maverik Inc. She’s responsible for center store profit and loss accountability for 362 store locations across 11 western states, while overseeing a team of nine category managers and associate category managers. • She has the keen ability to analyze current infrastructure and make changes to increase efficiencies. She brings years of previous experience in the CPG industry to her role, including category management at Family Express, Murphy USA and Buc-ee’s. • Smith takes a proactive and forwardthinking approach to making sound business decisions and is extremely thorough in her analysis. She makes deliberate decisions that drive profit while meeting consumer expectations.

MINDY STONE Customer Director, C-store Shopper Marketing Mondelez International Inc. • Stone has responsibilities for the entire c-store channel at Mondelez that


COVER STORY

SENIOR-LEVEL LEADERS

include building long-term strategic shopper marketing plans, partnering with marketing teams to create robust customer-level plans, and budget oversight for the entire channel. • In 2020, she created a summer scale event at 7-Eleven Inc., anchored in Mondelez’s exclusive Sour Patch Kids Red/White/Blue pack, and created a surround-sound event at Wawa Inc., anchored in company’s first branded beverage execution during the retailer’s summer Siptopia event. • At Sheetz Inc., Stone helped create the first-ever Sour Patch Kids Beverage & Candy Mega Event, anchored in key shopper marketing elements such as social and digital activation and cross-category rewards offers to create a unique customer experience, both in-store and out-of-store.

EVA STRASBURGER President, StrasGlobal CEO, Compliance Safe Inc. • With 30 years of experience in global retail, Strasburger continues to explore ways to help businesses and consumers. As president of StrasGlobal, she is involved with its retail operations, consulting businesses and new projects, including developing Resources for Retailers to provide best-in-industry programs to small retailers. In January 2020, she saw the impact of COVID-19 outside the U.S. and rallied StrasGlobal to take action with a COVID-19 Response Plan that was shared with the industry. • As CEO of Compliance Safe, Strasburger oversees the award-winning SaaS program that simplifies document management and alerts users to renew deadlines. • Strasburger also co-founded The Vision Group, an organization of forward-thinking leaders who anticipate disruption and share ideas to create new initiatives. She supports programs in education, medical care, historical preservation and the arts, as well.

SIVA SURKUNALINGAM Vice President, IT Strategy & Governance 7-Eleven Inc. • Surkunalingam leads 7-Eleven’s technology strategy, including IT compliance, vendor management, change management, IT financial management, Agile Center of Excellence, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Center of Excellence, and Data Engineering. • In 2020, she was promoted to her current role, which made her the first minority female vice president of the 7-Eleven IT Team, and she chartered the 7-Eleven IT department’s Women in Technology group to advocate for diversity at all levels of the organization. • Surkunalingam has been recognized as a 7-Eleven High Impact Leader through the Thayer Leadership Development Group – West Point, and is a cohort graduate of the Women’s Leadership Institute through the Texas Women’s Foundation.

RISING STARS ASHLEY CHAMBERS Food Operations Project Manager Thorntons • Chambers serves as a liaison between the Fresh Food Operations Team and other departments to successfully plan and implement new food programs to grow the offer at Thorntons. She joined the team in April 2020 after being promoted from region manager. • She is responsible for continuous improvement initiatives, which include monitoring product performance; making recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness of programs; evaluating food safety assessments; and working with the Culinary Team and Training Team to create effective training resources. • Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chambers was instrumental in launching 60 kitchens in Thorntons stores across the

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Top Women & Store Chains

We Applaud You! Coin Cloud is proud to partner with some of the top women and organizations in convenience, who are being honored for their achievements with prestigious awards this season.

Congratulations to all the

2021 Top Women in Convenience & Convenience Store Chain of the Year Winners From the rising stars to the industry veterans, we look forward to building a solid future together.

Partners@Coin.Cloud


COVER STORY

RISING STARS

chain. She created an implementation plan and managed training for store team members that included both remote and onsite instruction.

KATIE CUNNINGHAM Chain Director FIFCO USA • Cunningham manages a team that covers 49 c-store chain call points and nearly 16,000 accounts. In 2020, she led her team to deliver 18.5-percent segment growth in 26 states. • With 16 years of industry experience, she has held multiple leadership roles with FIFCO USA, Team Enterprises, and Red Bull. The list includes national brand launch manager, L&D project coordinator, district sales manager, and national account manager. • According to her nominator, Cunningham has played a significant role in growing FIFCO’s share of business in the convenience channel, and has made an immediate impact with the customers she works with to grow their businesses. She leads by example and “does an amazing job” of collaborating with her partners to bring new and fresh ideas.

HEATHER DAVIS Director of Foodservice Parker’s • In her leadership role, Davis is responsible for all foodservice operations across Parker’s approximately 68 sites, including 46 Parker’s Kitchen locations offering a full foodservice menu with signature Southerninspired favorites. • She is tasked with ensuring strong financial performance in each of the Savannah, Ga.-based retailer’s foodservice categories, developing new menu items, maintaining foodservice vendor relationships, and managing food safety and food sanitation practices. • Among her recent accomplishments, Davis collaborated with the Technology and Business

64 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Intelligence Team to implement the innovative SmartKitchen, which allows Parker’s Kitchen to predict food demand and keep food fresh and stocked for customers while reducing waste. She also served on the team that rolled out customer-facing ordering kiosks, which have been critical during the coronavirus pandemic.

LESLIE EDMISTON Manager, Category Space & Analysis Wawa Inc. • Edmiston and her team develop and employ the space planning strategy related to category merchandising, testing and space utilization. Collectively, they monitor merchandising trends through partnerships with key vendors, competitive marketplace tours and industry trade shows, while overseeing category planograms. • In 2019, Edmiston was named the Wings of Excellence Award Winner for her work on the launch of Wawa Coffee Stout. The December 2018 release received more than 56 million impressions and had people driving from more than 100 miles away for the launch at Wawa’s first Pennsylvania store to sell alcoholic beverages. • Other cross-functional projects that Edmiston has acted as lead on include the adoption of category captains on key businesses, and increasing Wawa Rewards membership through tobacco programming.

STEPHANIE FERGUSON Director, Regulatory Affairs & Compliance United Pacific • Ferguson — who joined United Pacific in 2015 — manages the team responsible for all permitting, licensing and compliance activities in five states with extensive regulatory requirements: California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. • A graduate of the University of San Francisco


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RISING STARS

and Thomas Jefferson School of Law, she also serves as United Pacific’s advocate with key industry trade associations, including the California Fuels & Convenience Alliance (CFCA) and NACS. As a member of CFCA’s Government Relations Steering Committee, she represents the group in Sacramento and on Capitol Hill. • With attention to detail and considerable energy, Ferguson spearheaded the company’s extensive COVID-19 compliance, while managing the regulatory requirements for the acquisition of 95 sites from Platinum Energy and its related entities. The acquisition closed without any delays in permits or licenses.

SARAH GARCIA Food Safety & Quality Assurance Manager Casey’s General Stores Inc. • Garcia is responsible for Casey’s food safety program in more than 2,200 individual store locations in 16 states, three distribution centers, and the Store Support Center. • She leverages her work ethic to encourage cross-functionality across the enterprise to support, refine and develop food safety objectives and timelines. Garcia is able to identify the everyday challenges in the food industry that need to be addressed because they could lead to complications, from a small nuisance to a large crisis, that may threaten the health and safety of a guest or the reputation of the Casey’s brand. • Garcia coordinated the development of a team of COVID-19 case managers to support the company’s team member COVID hotline and worked closely with federal, state, county and local health departments to ensure compliance throughout the pandemic.

JENNIFER GURDOCK National Convenience Store Operations Manager The Hershey Co. • Gurdock is primarily

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responsible for coordinating the implementation of all national and local strategies from headquarters to retail. This includes the development, communication and measurement of all advanced capabilities designed to deliver the most efficient and effective retail implementation of call procedures and selling efforts. • Coordinating all Hershey Retail Test pilots is also a part of her duties. In the past three years, she has fundamentally transformed Hershey’s retail execution tools into proprietary industry-leading capabilities. • Gurdock serves as a liaison between sales, retail, category management, sales planning, finance, marketing, and Hershey’s retail execution arm for the U.S. Her role is vital to ensuring programming is executed on time and at the level expected.

CYNTHIA HERRERA ENRIQUEZ Regional Director of Operations, West Coast Business Unit Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./ Circle K • Accountable for implementing policies and systems, Herrera Enriquez has played a critical role in high-level project teams at Alimentation Couche-Tard (ACT), including the implementation of two operational development programs for store and market managers. • Her nominator noted that Herrera Enriquez believes in recognizing internal talent. ACT’s executive team rewarded her business unit for having the lowest turnover percent in North America. She was also recognized as an ACT Trailblazer, highlighting her potential for future growth and position as a role model to Hispanic women within the company. • Throughout the years, she has proved to be a reliable, self-motivated and dedicated team member. When asked to use one word to describe her, George Wilkins, vice president of the West Coast Business Unit, said it best: “Driven.”


CSN Women Ad CAS.pdf

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SARA HILLSTROM Senior Director, Industry Relations Anheuser-Busch (formerly) • Hillstrom recently left Anheuser-Busch and is now Global Head, Consumer Goods Industry Advisor at Salesforce. An important part of her role at Anheuser-Busch was to identify which trends are here to stay and map out how the category will evolve over the next three to five years, and then build digital and in-store shopper solutions. • In a previous role as senior director, category management, Hillstrom was the lead for shopper insights and author of IGNITE, Anheuser-Busch’s category growth strategy. • She also worked on Anheuser-Busch’s Customer Collaboration Center, through which the company uses cutting-edge technology to bring the evolving world of consumers, shoppers and occasions to life and collaborate with retailers on new shopper solutions.

LORENA JAVALERA Pricebook Lead ExtraMile Convenience Stores • Since being promoted to her current role in 2018, Javalera’s primary responsibility is to ensure ExtraMile’s pricebook administrators continue to provide franchise value and excellent customer service, while setting up and maintaining the ExtraMile pricebook for convenience stores across six states. • She collaborates with other support groups to proactively identify process improvements, resolve outstanding issues, and support special projects and initiatives. She is currently helping to build a pricebook for a new back-office system. • With 25 years of industry experience, Javalera has held various roles with increased responsibility, including manager; business consultant for 11 company-operated, companyowned stores (COCO); and senior pricebook administrator.

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KIM JENKS Category Manager Kwik Trip Inc. • Jenks, a 28-year Kwik Trip veteran, is category manager for alcoholic beverages, tobacco and CBD. She has 17 years of beer category experience, and has managed the alcohol and tobacco departments for the past seven years. Jenks received the department’s Co-Worker of the Year award three times. • Among her duties are contract negotiations, promotional planning, planogram development, and cooler sets. She also assists in setting budgets for the categories she oversees. • According to her nominator, Jenks is a “tremendous” category manager to partner with, as she works with her account managers to develop the best product assortment and consumer promotions that will make the biggest impact. With her guidance, Kwik Trip is first to market with innovation, and influences the alcohol and tobacco categories for the entire market.

JOCELYN MILLER Manager of Operations – Workforce Management Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores • Miller leads the operations strategy, integration and maintenance of Love’s entire workforce management suite, which covers 560-plus locations and more than 24,000 employees. • She helps keep all locations safe, legal and compliant, and has implemented an integrated time, attendance and optimized scheduling platform that ties into the workload being created by tasks, and consolidates and simplifies documentation into one system. The platform also creates digital checklists to enable organized and prioritized checklists for field employees. • When Miller joined Love’s three years ago, the travel center operator was just beginning its use of the Reflexis Workforce Management Suite with one module implemented. Miller mobilized


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the majority of Love’s workforce into using the platform for field employees to keep their tasks, time, schedules and other activities in one place.

CATE MOORE Strategic Insights Assistant Manager Eby-Brown Co. LLC • Moore is Eby-Brown’s resident category management expert. She received NACS certification as a category manager, and is currently working on her Certified Professional Category Analyst and Certified Professional Category Manager certificates from the Category Management Association (CMA). • She is part of the company’s Future Leaders

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program and serves on Eby-Brown’s Vendor Days Team, a program that allows customers to plan their entire promotional calendar during one day of meetings. • Outside of the company, Moore is a member of NACS, CMA and the National Confectioners Association. She also volunteers in her community of Sycamore, Ill., through church and civic organizations.

NICOLE NELSEN Director of Strategic Retailer Sales General Mills Convenience • Nelsen is a zone director who oversees strategic retail sales. She leads a team of six


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national account executives, providing inspiration and support to help them achieve and exceed their sales targets. • Her national oversight spans some of the largest retailers in the convenience channel, including 7-Eleven Inc., Circle K Stores, Casey’s General Stores Inc., Kwik Trip Inc., ampm, ExtraMile Convenience Stores, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Sheetz Inc., Kum & Go LC, and Pilot Flying J. She also has distributor responsibility at the corporate level for McLane Co. Inc. • Nelsen is a Convenience & Foodservice (C&F) Women’s Mentoring Circle Leader for the fifth consecutive year, and is highly involved in diversity and inclusion affinity networks and the C&F Inclusion Council. She is also an active member in the Women’s Foodservice Forum for nine consecutive years.

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SHANNON PATRICK Senior Manager of Fuel Supply & Distribution GetGo Café+Market • Patrick recently served as project manager for GetGo’s massive initiative to bring fuel procurement and distribution capabilities internal. Her learned expertise in fuel data, data flow, fuel procurement operations, fuel distribution, as well as industry relationships, prepared her to manage the daily fuel supply business with minimal experience. • The 11-year GetGo veteran earned the promotion to her current role last year. She was presented with the Chairman Entrepreneurial


Leadership & Innovation Award in 2019, the StepUp Award in 2018, and the Team Achievement Award in 2010. • Her nominator, Chief People Officer Kim Johnston, noted that Patrick’s rise in the fuel business helps to not only break but eliminate the glass ceiling of the industry.

KAYLIE PEDUZZI Lead Operations Specialist, Wawa Account Team Altria Group Distribution Co. • Peduzzi plays a pivotal role in supporting Altria’s 10-Year Vision to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future. She does this through culture, analytics, and providing solutions that align with the goals of both Wawa Inc. and Altria’s operating companies. • In 2021, Peduzzi celebrated her five-year anniversary with Altria. Known as a collaborative team member, she had a significant impact on the design and execution of Altria’s Virtual 2021 National Sales Meeting. • Peduzzi is active in several of Altria’s employee resource groups (ERGs), including Mosaic — the organization’s LGBTQ network — and the Women in Sales Network (WSN). This year, she was elected to and currently holds a regional communications leadership position in the WSN.

JESSICA PIERCE Category Manager Maverik Inc. • Pierce, a 13-year veteran at Maverik, has been instrumental in helping the retailer explore and pursue franchise opportunities. She successfully renegotiated Maverik’s relationship with Cinnabon to facilitate more favorable terms for both companies, and facilitated a franchise partnership with Godfather’s Pizza. • She helped build Maverik’s BonFire Grill MTO program from the ground up in 2015. Today, that program is featured in 170 locations, has delivered growth of 15 percent to 20 percent per year, and contributes a high margin and strong ROI. • Pierce serves as the construction layout lead for

ADRIENE ROBINS ON BEING NAMED ONE OF 2021’S TOP WOMEN IN CONVENIENCE

Adriene is the Director of Marketing The OnCue family is proud to recognize and congratulate her on the well-deserved achievement!


COVER STORY

RISING STARS

foodservice, contest lead, and kitchen production system lead. Outside of Maverik, she’s a member of the Cinnabon Franchise Advisory Group, and is involved with the Women’s Leadership Institute.

RANDI REEDER Fill-In District Supervisor & Store Manager Rutter’s • Reeder has been a part of the Rutter’s team for five years, starting out as a store manager before quickly being promoted to her current role. She opened the store she currently manages, and assists at other stores when needed. She occasionally takes on the role of district supervisor when necessary. • During her tenure, Reeder has received a number of Rutter’s awards. In 2017, she received Rutter’s Inventory Management Award, which is presented to an individual who consistently manages inventory areas and shrink. In 2019, she received Rutter’s Special Recognition Award. And for three consecutive years, Reeder was a finalist for Rutter’s Store Manager of the Year Award in 2017, 2018 and 2019. • She is a mentor, training other managers within the organization.

DANA RENFRO Category Manager Yesway • Renfro helped launch Yesway’s private brand products, elevated its loyalty program to include fuel rewards and incentives, and introduced innovations to the cooler doors in stores across nine states. She has also successfully negotiated major contracts, launched scan-based programs, and delivered consistent sales increases in her categories year over year, including packaged beverages, dairy and packaged bakery. • According to Yesway’s Chief Marketing Officer Derek Gaskins, Renfro is known for being a strong and analytical negotiator, and supplier partners have high regard for her ability to drive 74 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

sales and consumer engagement through building a strong rapport with valuable brands. • Renfro was previously recognized as a Rising Star in CSNews’ 2019 TWIC program, and is part of the leadership council for the National Advisory Group.

MARY RIDOUT Merchandise Manager United Refining Co./Kwik Fill • Ridout — who is responsible for 36 percent of Kwik Fill’s non-fuel retail sales — developed an open and transparent beer planogram process that has become “a gold standard” for her business partners. According to her nominator, Ridout is wholly data-driven to grow the category and does not rely on suppliers or wholesalers for assortment decisions. • Despite the overwhelming disruptions and challenges of COVID-19, including significant out-of-stocks and product allocations during the key summer months, Ridout grew the business in all of the categories she manages in 2020, and boosted beer volume by 10 percent. • She serves on the Nurture Outreach Team at Trinity United Methodist Church in Frewsburg, N.Y., and has served on its Pastoral Relations Committee. She was previously recognized as a Rising Star in CSNews’ 2016 TWIC program.

COLLEEN SEIFERT Category Manager EG America/ Cumberland Farms • Seifert spent 20 years with QuickChek Corp. in human resources before leaving the workforce to raise her family. She reentered the workplace in 2015, joining S&D Coffee & Tea as a field trainer and coffee specialist, working to implement and build continuity around QuickChek’s hot beverage program. • In 2017, she was promoted to a sales manager position, where she handled several large accounts, including Cumberland Farms.


COVER STORY

RISING STARS In November 2020, EG America, parent company of Cumberland Farms, recognized Seifert’s talent, work ethic and ability to accomplish initiatives and brought her onboard as a category manager. • According to her nominator Jennie Jones, senior vice president of convenience stores for S&D, Seifert’s ability to “reenter the workplace and raise three amazing young women all on her own truly makes her a rising star.”

SARA SHANKMAN Senior Customer Marketing Manager – Speedway & QuikTrip The Coca-Cola Co. • Shankman partnered with Speedway to develop a custom, evergreen digital game that lives within the retailer’s mobile app. After only four months of activation, the game delivered 1.6 million registrations, 867,000 game plays, and a 54 percent conversion from registration to in-store purchase. • As a trusted partner to QuikTrip Corp. (QT), Shankman secured a lead role in helping the Tulsa, Okla.-based operator with its food program. She built an eight-month-long marketing program, grounded in the QT shopper, to drive customers to its stores. • Shankman has been the recipient of multiple accolades, including the Best of the Best Award, Best of the Best Shopper Marketing – Hydration Category, Supplier of the Year Award, and Best Ice-Cold Single Service Experience.

MICHELLE SIGNORELLI OTP Category Manager RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. • Signorelli successfully launched product extensions in every category last year, and made critical space allocation changes to prepare for long-term sustainable growth. Most notably, she established a consolidated nicotine pouch subcategory, which quickly exceeded sales targets and is in the top quartile of all c-stores in RaceTrac’s respective markets. • Passionate about building plans with store teams in mind, Signorelli can be found testing different options in stores and getting feedback from operations ahead of any change. Her cross-functional 76 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

approach, strong planning and analytical skills are key traits that make her an excellent category manager, her nominator noted. • Outside of the office, she is heavily involved in volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, and is a civic fellow with Hands On Atlanta.

KATE SPLAWN Account Executive Reynolds American Inc. • Splawn is known for her collaboration among RAI’s internal teams and brands to assist in building effective plans and programs. For instance, she spearheaded packaging initiatives and built the Revel to Velo lozenges migration and go-to-market strategies. • She also worked cross-functionally between field trade marketing, the Vuse brand and multiple departments internally to support Vuse strategy and initiatives for commercial impact. • According to her nominator, RAI Senior Director of External Relations Matt Domingo, Splawn always works with a customer-centric mindset to build mutually beneficial plans that deliver commercial business results, and has a willingness to step up to mentor, coach and lead others in their personal and professional development.

MELISSA VONDER HAAR Marketing Director iSee Store Innovations • Vonder Haar is an avid advocate and educator, especially in the categories of vape, CBD and cannabis. She appeared as an industry expert at NACS’ 2019 Cannabis Pop-Up and presented at the first NACS Show cannabis forum. • She spearheaded iSee’s shift to virtual formats last year, helping the company’s booth go on to become one of the most visited at the 2020 NACS Show. As a three-star NACSPAC member, she actively participates in advocacy events and supports the NACS Foundation by volunteering her time and services. • As a journalist, Vonder Haar has covered many of the industry’s most pressing issues, including CBD as a wellness solution; how the COVID-19 pandemic


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COVER STORY

RISING STARS has impacted the tobacco, OTP, CBD and beverage categories; and Canada’s experience with marijuana legalization.

MENTORS TARA ANTLE Manager, Talent Acquisition Casey’s General Stores Inc.

HANNAH WALKER Partner Solutions Manager GreenPrint • Walker has played an essential role in growing GreenPrint from the ground up and acts as the primary strategist leading branded sustainability programs for four global and U.S.-based retailers and fleet clients. Through her leadership, GreenPrint’s influence has spanned the globe and its clients have seen increasing volume sales as a result. • She works closely with GreenPrint’s data analysis team to ensure client programs are yielding impressive and worthwhile results. GreenPrint is currently on track to reach its goal of offsetting 3 million tons of CO2 in 2021, the emissions equivalent of more than 500,000 homes’ electricity use for a year. • Walker has received honors from several of GreenPrint’s nonprofit partners, including Arenac Conservation District, Onondaga Earth Corps, Tucson Clean & Beautiful, and GROW Enrichment.

• Antle is the only recruiting leader for all of Casey’s more than 2,200 stores. She assists division leaders in identifying and prioritizing specific recruiting project needs for the team, creating personalized recruitment campaigns, and coaching leaders through creative sourcing opportunities. • She was instrumental in offering guidance and leadership to ensure HR business partners understood hiring and retention challenges, and has been a sounding board for that team to ensure it is working together to design solutions that best meet the needs of store leaders. • Antle, who holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership, advocates for operators when systems, processes or deliverables are not meeting expectations, and does so in a professional manner. Several leaders across multiple divisions laud her as a mentor.

DONNA BARBIER Senior Chain Sales Executive Molson Coors Beverage Co.

ANAHI WRAY Senior Category Manager 7-Eleven Inc. • Wray oversees the commissions and financial services category. Throughout her tenure, she has spearheaded the expansion of the commissions category to offer self-service solutions, including integrating cryptocurrency kiosks, parcel lockers, key duplication services, and garment-cleaning lockers, among others. As a result, 7-Eleven has become the leading destination of any retail channel for the coveted new mover demographic. • She pioneered Digital Currency Machines (DCM) in the c-store channel by leading 7-Eleven to be the first c-store retailer to install bidirectional DCMs where customers can both buy and sell bitcoin and other digital currencies. • Wray holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in global commerce from Lynchburg College, and is a member of the Network of Executive Women.

• Barbier is responsible for two business units of Circle K covering five states, which account for 17 percent of Molson Coors’ business with Circle K. In 2019, she was invited by the Circle K Gulf Coast Business Unit to speak at its annual Women’s Council meeting, recognizing her leadership as a female in the c-store industry. • According to Jim Hughes, vice president – convenience for Molson Coors, Barbier exudes confidence in a very approachable way, which makes her a great mentor for others. She has mentored several coworkers including new hires, seasoned employees and members of Molson Coors’ distributor sales teams. • During her career, Barbier has been named a National Chain Sales Executive of the Year with Molson Coors, a President’s Club winner with CocaCola, and recognized nationally by CSNews sister publication Progressive Grocer with Winn Dixie. AUGUS T

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COVER STORY

MENTORS JULIE BELTRAN Training Specialist Chevron USA Inc. • Beltran has influence and oversight of all training activities for Chevron Stations Inc. (CSI). During her career, she has personally mentored and promoted dozens of employees, including one company-owned, company-operated (COCO) business consultant; two pricebook agents; one area trainer; one CSI Development Program temp; three designated operators; more than 30 assistant managers; and 15 station managers. • She collaborates with all internal and external organizations to develop training content and uses her 25 years of field experience to keep training relevant to station employees. In addition to her core training activities, she has implemented leadership training for COCO business consultants to develop and improve their leadership skills. • Beltran plays a major role in transforming CSI into a more diverse workforce, partnering with an accredited organization to provide employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

MEGAN GIBSON Human Resources Business Partner RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. • Gibson supports RaceTrac’s West Florida regional team members, spanning 90 stores. Her main objective is to provide support with staffing, in addition to supporting recruiters and trainers and the operations team with any employee-related initiatives, such as new hire orientation and any other training initiatives. • RaceTrac Communications Coordinator Lauryn Greer calls Gibson a “go-getter,” noting that “Megan is naturally motivated by helping others and guiding them through their own problem solving. She is a selfless leader and always puts others first.” • During her time with the retailer’s West Florida regional office, Gibson has been selected as the Contagious Leader twice.

78 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

LORI HALL District Manager Coen Markets • Hall is charged with the dayto-day operations of 10 Coen Markets locations and the Coen Tire business, including budgetary and fiscal responsibility. She has topped all districts in revenue growth and expense control. • Leading the way in execution for many years — and only ramping up her efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic — Hall drove double-digit increases in profitability and expense control, while keeping her stores at a high standard and growing sales in more than half of the locations she oversees despite transactions being down nearly 20 percent in the industry during the pandemic. • Before becoming district manager, Hall was a store manager in the industry, and a bar owner before that. She’s been in retail leadership for more than 20 years.

BEKA JACKSON Director, Foodservice Project Management Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K • This year, Jackson will celebrate 11 years with Couche-Tard. Formerly the manager of the company’s first all-women construction team, she was recently promoted to her current role because of her project management and experience in in-store layout, equipment and facilities. • In addition to overseeing 100-plus store remodels and facilitating the opening of 29 new-to-industry sites, Jackson led numerous rollout projects, such as the Simply Great Coffee, Real Hot Dog and Polar Pop programs. She was also responsible for overseeing the North American rollouts of the Fresh Food, Fast and Digital Food Safety programs. • Jackson is the regional lead for the ACT Women’s Council, an active member of the ACT Disability Inclusion business resource group, and volunteers with a shelter for women and children.

MYRA KRESSNER Founder & President Kressner Strategy Group • Kressner has facilitated strategic engagement for suppliers and retailers in the consumable retail industries for more than 30 years.


MENTORS • In 2016, she founded Kressner Strategy Group, where she serves as an advisor to C-suite, marketing and operations management, and develops and oversees strategic engagement and business development initiatives. Most recently, in 2020, she cofounded The Vision Group for cross-channel discussion of disruptive solutions. • Kressner is a SUNY New Paltz Foundation board member and a frequent speaker at the SUNY New Paltz Women’s Leadership Summit. In 2018, she created the Kressner Family Autism Spectrum Program and endowment. Kressner also serves as marketing director of the nonprofit Theatre by the Bay NY.

AMY LANE Senior Vice President, Special Projects Parker’s • Lane is Parker’s go-to person to handle special projects with construction and environmental components. She provides executive-level support to the company’s operations, marketing and maintenance teams on a daily basis, and serves as a dedicated mentor to district managers. • Drawing on nearly 40 years of experience in the c-store industry, Lane considers mentoring team members her biggest and most important role at Parker’s. She takes new district managers under her wing and helps them become the best they can be, both as individuals and Parker’s professionals. • Last year, Parker’s founder and CEO Greg Parker presented Lane with the 2020 Terri Heidmann Leadership Award. She was also previously honored as a SeniorLevel Leader in CSNews’ inaugural TWIC class in 2014.

SARAH MONTGOMERY Director of Strategic Account Executives Applied Data Corp. • Montgomery plays an integral role in all of Applied Data Corp.’s (ADC) thought leadership, speaking engagements, product innovation, and relationships within the convenience store industry. • Since graduating from the University of Georgia, Montgomery has focused on technology and software sales. At ADC, she’s had the opportunity to drive strategies for the nation’s largest convenience foodservice retailers.

• Montgomery — who was recently promoted to manage the Strategic Account Team at ADC — was honored as a Rising Star in CSNews’ 2020 TWIC program. She was also honored as ADC’s Employee of the Quarter during the fourth quarter of 2020, and was recognized by the company as the top sales representative of 2020.

CYNTHIA WEST Restaurant Manager Rutter’s • West effectively manages the operation of a high-volume Rutter’s convenience store restaurant by planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and leading others to maximize profitability and achieve company goals. She is a training mentor for all of Rutter’s restaurant managers. • According to her nominator, Rutter’s Vice President of Operations Jere Matthews, West is a true team player, always willing to assist other stores in any way she can. “Her competitive nature drives her team to be better as a direct result of herself,” he said. • West, who has been a part of the Rutter’s team for six years, was a finalist for Rutter’s Team Member of the Year award in 2018.

ELIZABETH WILES Sales Director JUUL Labs • Wiles is a marketing and sales specialist with 18 years of extensive corporate experience working on behalf of some of the world’s most prestigious and innovative brands, including AnheuserBusch and Arby’s. She joined JUUL Labs in 2018 as key account manager before being promoted to her current role. • She is a founding member of JUUL’s first employee resource group (ERG) and serves as co-chair of the Women’s Leadership ERG. Beyond her responsibilities in her sales role, she has fostered countless connections to grow the careers of peer women. • Her nominator notes: “Elizabeth understands the value of fostering cross-functional relationships, internally at our company, as well as externally with wholesalers. She completely transformed the business relationship and rapport JUUL Labs now has with its distributor partners and chain customers.” CSN AUGUS T

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FEATURE

2021 MIDYEAR REPORT CARD

A Rebounding First Half The Convenience Store News Midyear Report Card finds improved business conditions despite continued pandemic-related issues By Don Longo CONVENIENCE STORE retail sales began

bouncing back during the first half of this year as widespread vaccinations helped relieve the economic mess caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the exclusive Convenience Store News 2021 Midyear Report Card, most in-store product categories showed a healthy sales increase during the first six months of this year compared to the dismal results posted in the first half of 2020. Year over year, the categories showing the greatest advances in dollar sales growth were: • Packaged Beverages: up 13.8 percent, an improvement of 16 points from the 2.2

80 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

percent decline seen in the first six months of 2020; • Candy: up 10.5 percent, a more than 13-point swing from the 2.8 percent decline reported in this category for the first half of 2020; • General Merchandise: up 9.7 percent, an improvement of 14 points from the 4.4 percent decline posted in 2020’s first half; and • Salty Snacks: up 8.1 percent, a near 16-point swing from a 7.6 percent decline in the first six months of 2020. Meanwhile, two product categories that were standout performers during the worst of the pandemic in 2020 — beer/malt beverages and edible grocery — came back to earth this year. But that should have been expected after the huge increases seen last year.


FEATURE

GAINS CONTINUE FOR CIGARETTES The rebound in cigarette sales that started last year when sales trends reversed from a 5 percent decline in 2019 to a slight gain in 2020 continued in the first half of 2021. Dollar sales of cigarettes were up 2.9 percent for the first six months of the year, while unit volume declined by only 3.6 percent, a twopoint improvement over a year ago. Premium brands and subgeneric/private label cigarettes drove the business at c-stores during the first half of this year, with 4.1 percent and 4.9 percent sales gains, respectively. Imported brands, on the other hand, experienced a larger-than-usual decline of nearly 18 percent.

Adversely affected by the foot traffic declines of last year, the packaged beverages category at c-stores came back in a big way in the first half of 2021.

OTP BOUNCES BACK Dollar sales of other tobacco products (OTP), one of the fastest-growing categories of the past several years, slowed during the first half of 2020, but bounced back nicely in 2021. Most OTP subcategories contributed sales gains, from 5.6 percent for electronic cigarettes, to 5.4 percent for smokeless tobacco, to 4.2 percent for cigars. Overall, dollar sales in the category were up 4.9 percent for the first six months of this year, while unit volume posted less than a 1 percent decrease. PACKAGED BEVERAGE SALES SPARKLE Adversely affected by the foot traffic declines of last year, the packaged beverages category at c-stores came back in a big way in the first half of 2021. Total packaged beverage sales increased almost 14 percent, after a 2.2 percent sales decline in first-half 82 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

2021 MIDYEAR REPORT CARD

CIGARETTES

2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total Cigarettes 2.9% Branded discount -4.2% Fourth tier -4.4% Imported -17.9% Premium 4.1% Subgeneric/private label 4.9%

-3.6% -11.0% -9.0% -16.7% -2.2% -1.4%

OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS 2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total OTP 4.9% -0.9% Cigars 4.2% -3.3% E-cigarettes 5.6% 10.4% Other tobacco 1.1% -1.0% Papers 1.5% 1.5% Pipe/cigarette tobacco -14.9% -15.3% Pipes 217.0% 359.4% Smokeless 5.4% 1.2%

PACKAGED BEVERAGES 2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total Packaged Beverages Bottled water Carbonated soft drinks Energy drinks Enhanced water Iced tea (ready to drink) Juice/juice drinks Other packaged beverages Sports drinks

13.8% 13.3% 6.2% 14.2% 36.8% 7.7% 12.7% 22.1% 23.4%

9.5% 10.7% 1.2% 12.9% 32.2% 2.8% 7.7% 18.9% 18.2%

BEER & MALT BEVERAGES 2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total Beer 1.6% -1.9% Budget -11.1% -12.1% Flavored malt 20.4% 11.1% Imported 6.3% 3.9% Malt liquor -13.6% -15.1% Microbrews/craft 2.1% 1.6% Non-alcoholic 32.3% 21.9% Popular -4.2% -11.7% Premium -4.8% -7.0% Super premium 5.4% 4.6%

Source: Convenience Store News Market Research; Nielsen C-store Track, June 2021


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FEATURE

2020. Unit volume was up almost 10 percent compared to a near 7 percent decline a year ago. Enhanced water is the star of the cold vault this year, posting a 36.8 percent dollar sales increase. Other standout subcategories are sports drinks, up 23.4 percent; energy drinks, up 14.2 percent; bottled water, up 13.3 percent; and juice/juice drinks, up 12.7 percent. Carbonated soft drinks have plateaued over the past three years in dollar sales, but volume nudged up slightly by 1.2 percent during the first half of this year. THE BEER BOOM SLOWS DOWN Beer and malt beverages were a silver lining during the pandemic. Category dollar sales were up 12 percent in the first half of last year, while unit sales were up 3.8 percent. For the first half of this year, the category reverted to norm, posting a still-solid 1.6 percent sales gain on a slight volume decline. Standout subcategories were non-alcoholic beer and flavored malt beverages, likely driven by popularity among younger adult drinkers. Imported, super premium and microbrews/craft beer also registered positive sales gains in 2021’s first half. SWEETS BENEFIT AS TRAFFIC RETURNS The return of customer traffic this year, in comparison to last year’s lockdowns, has been a boon to impulse sales categories like candy. The category grew 10.5 percent in dollar sales during the first six months of this year, while unit volume was up 5.6 percent. The biggest gains came in bagged/repacked peg candy, non-chocolate bars and packs, and novelties/seasonal candy. Chocolate bars and packs and candy rolls, mints and drops also posted strong sales gains, although the gum category again declined. SALTY SNACKS STAGE A COMEBACK Last year, after the first six months of the year, not a single subcategory within salty snacks had a sales or volume increase. This year, every single subcategory posted a sales increase — a strong indicator of the ongoing turnaround in c-store sales as the country recovers from the pandemic. Total salty snack dollar sales were up 8.1 percent for the first half of 2021, and unit volume was up 2 percent, a nice increase considering the 13 percent decline of a year ago. Pretzels, up 14.4 percent, and crackers, up 12.7 percent, led the subcategories in dollar sales gains. Packaged ready-to-eat popcorn and tortilla/corn chips also performed well during the first half, rising 10.5 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively, in dollar sales. 84 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

2021 MIDYEAR REPORT CARD CANDY 2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total Candy 10.5% 5.6% Bagged/repacked peg candy 20.5% 13.5% Candy rolls/mints/drops 8.6% 9.1% Chocolate bars/packs 8.4% 5.5% Gum -4.4% -11.0% Non-chocolate bars/packs 16.9% 9.2% Novelties/seasonal 14.7% 8.6%

SALTY SNACKS

2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total Salty Snacks 8.1% Crackers 12.7% Mixed 8.6% Nuts/seeds 5.6% Other salty snacks 6.4% Packaged ready-to-eat popcorn 10.5% Potato chips 7.2% Pretzels 14.4% Puffed cheese 6.3% Tortilla/corn chips 9.2%

2.0% 3.8% 4.8% -8.0% 1.7% 4.9% 3.3% 7.7% 1.0% 5.4%

EDIBLE GROCERY

2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total Edible Grocery -6.2% -9.3% Breakfast cereal 3.6% 4.6% Condiments 1.2% 0.5% Other edible grocery -10.5% -13.2% Packaged coffee/tea -4.3% -11.0% Water beverage enhancers -8.5% -18.8% Source: Convenience Store News Market Research; Nielsen C-store Track, June 2021

The return of customer traffic this year, in comparison to last year’s lockdowns, has been a boon to impulse sales categories like candy.


FEATURE

It seems consumers who turned to the convenience channel for everyday grocery food items at the beginning of the pandemic abandoned c-stores as other shopping options returned to business during the first half of 2021.

2021 MIDYEAR REPORT CARD

GENERAL MERCHANDISE 2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total General Merchandise 9.7% 1.2% Batteries 1.1% -1.7% Film/photo -59.7% -78.4% Hardware/tools/housewares 3.9% 0.4% Other general merchandise -4.6% -11.0% School/office supplies 10.2% 7.9% Seasonal 9.3% 8.9% Smoking accessories 4.7% -1.2% Telecommunications hardware 49.5% 59.1% Trading cards -14.8% -19.3% Video/audio tapes -38.3% -49.4% Wearables/apparel -1.7% -0.2%

HEALTH & BEAUTY CARE

2021 FIRST HALF (JANUARY-JUNE) DOLLAR SALES UNIT VOLUME % CHANGE % CHANGE

Total HBC 5.3% 4.9% Analgesics 8.2% 2.3% Baby care -2.9% -0.9% Cosmetics 13.6% 6.6% Cough/cold remedies -7.5% -3.6% Family planning 5.5% 2.5% Feminine hygiene 19.7% 14.5% Grooming aids -36.2% -20.7% Liquid vitamins/ 10.1% 7.8% supplements/energy shots Other HBC 19.0% 23.1% Other internal OTC medications -0.4% -5.0% Skin care/lotions/external care 0.9% -3.6% Smoking cessation -20.2% -24.3% Stomach remedies 16.7% 7.5% Vitamins/supplements 34.2% 35.9% Source: Convenience Store News Market Research; Nielsen C-store Track, June 2021

EDIBLE GROCERY GIVES BACK PANDEMIC GAINS It seems consumers who turned to the convenience channel for everyday grocery food items at the beginning of the pandemic abandoned c-stores as other shopping options returned to business during the first half of 2021. Edible grocery sales, which climbed 7.3 percent in dollars on a 2.6 percent unit increase in the first half of 2020, fell by 6.2 percent in dollars and 9.3 percent in volume this year. Looking closer at the category, cereal (up 3.6 percent) and condiments (up 1.2 percent) were the only gainers in edible grocery during the first six months of this year. AN ABOUT-FACE IN GENERAL MERCHANDISE General merchandise sales were up almost 10 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the year-ago period — a turnaround from 2020’s first half. 86 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

Telecommunications hardware sales, which include cell phones, chargers and accessories, exploded by nearly 50 percent on a volume gain of 59 percent. School and office supplies also performed admirably, rising more than 10 percent in dollar sales and nearly 8 percent in unit volume. Smoking accessories were also up 4.7 percent in dollar sales. HBC SALES ARE HEALTHY Sales of health and beauty care (HBC) products at c-stores were strong during the first six months of 2021. Dollar sales were up 5.3 percent on a volume increase of 4.9 percent. Within the category, the biggest dollar gains were recorded by vitamins and supplements, up 34.2 percent (perhaps driven by COVID-19 related health concerns); feminine hygiene, up 19.7 percent; stomach remedies, up 16.7 percent; and cosmetics, up 13.6 percent. Liquid vitamins, supplements and energy shots and analgesics also had strong dollar sales gains. CSN


FOODSERVICE F

FOOD I NSIG HT P O W E R E D B Y DATA S S E N T I A L

Satisfying the Sweet Tooth Dessert trends related to nostalgia and portability are particularly strong right now WHILE PLANT-BASED and healthy eating trends are continuing to innovate, consumers have shown no signs of losing their sweet tooth. While only one in five consumers say they eat dessert daily, according to Datassential’s 2021 Dessert Keynote report, more than half of those surveyed said they’d had a dessert within the past day.

From indulgent, rich confections to playful frozen treats, desserts are continually growing, with trends related to nostalgia and portability being particularly strong. Nostalgic themes have been growing for several years and are becoming increasingly layered across generations. Handhelds offer operators the highest sales and margins, while ice cream is king within the category.

Nuanced Nostalgia Sweet flavors and treats that harken back to yesteryear have been trending for some time — with playful nods to childhood taking center stage. About four in 10 consumers (43 percent) say they prefer a classic, traditional dessert, but what “traditional” means for different generations can vary widely. When utilizing Datassential’s FLAVOR tool, older consumers index high in terms of affinity for classic desserts such as cherries jubilee, pineapple upside down cake, and fruit cobbler. Generation Z consumers, on the other hand, have their own nostalgic notions when it comes to desserts, albeit they tend to be more recent trends. Desserts with such flavors as Nutella, cotton candy, sour apple and Funfetti index high with younger consumers — flavors that may be nostalgic to them from their more-recent childhoods.

Handhelds a Must For operators with an eye toward convenience, handhelds are a must for desserts. From cookies and brownies to cupcakes and ice cream, handhelds are top-selling items and also have the highest margins. In fact, 60 percent of operators say desserts that require less prep and that are eaten on the go help drive profit, according to the Datassential Dessert Keynote. While handhelds like brownies with mashup flavors do well (think s’mores marshmallow infusions or a decadent cream cheese swirl), old-world classics aren’t to be ruled out entirely. A classic apple turnover can have broad appeal among consumers, like ampm’s branded Cinnabon Dutch Apple Turnover. At an affordable $1.39, this

Sweet Bourbon Cold Brew Ice Cream ($3.49) This limited edition pint features cold brew coffee, sweet cream, and bourbon flavored ice cream with chocolatey coffee flavored flakes. Unbranded PI: 47% Branded PI: 70% Uniqueness: 58% Frequency: 24% Draw: 53%

SCORE

86

Specialty Appeal Star Ratings reflect each item’s performance vs. other menu items within the same category. Top Performer (>90th percentile) Above Average (70 to 90th percentile) Average (30 to 70th percentile)

product has a top-scoring Unbranded Purchase Intent (PI) of 62 percent, as captured by Datassential’s SCORES tool.

Frozen Is the Winner It’s no surprise that ice cream is the dessert of choice across the nation, with a whopping 90 percent of consumers either liking it or loving it, according to the FLAVOR tool. When asked in Datassential’s C-Store Foodservice Keynote report how interested consumers would be in having frozen yogurt or hand-scooped ice cream at their local convenience store, the interest level was 51 percent. This suggests that adding a limited selection of handscooped ice cream or a frozen yogurt dispenser would be an easy way for c-stores to please consumers. Premium ice creams, milkshakes and sweet smoothies are major drivers of Unbranded Purchase Intent among c-store desserts. As an example, Stewart’s Shops is one convenience store chain continually churning out premium ice creams that perform well with consumers. Stewart’s Shops often calls out premium ingredients in its ice creams, like its Sweet Bourbon Cold Brew Ice Cream — a bourbon flavored ice cream with chocolatey coffee flavored flakes. As summer is upon us, it’s no surprise that frozen is a winner all around. CSN

Datassential, a Chicago-based food and beverage industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world insights on flavor trends, foodservice and consumer packaged goods, globally. Learn more at datassential.com.

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FOODSERVICE

Better Synergy in the Kitchen New technology adoption in foodservice equipment is reshaping the food-to-go landscape By Renée M. Covino

foodservice advancements are working together like never before.

THE LATEST CONVENIENCE

“Technology lessons learned from restaurants are not only helping to streamline back-ofhouse operations for the channel, but they are also driving customer interactions,” Joe Bona, CEO of Bona Design Lab, a global retail design and consulting firm based in New York, told Convenience Store News. “From digital kitchen ordering systems and rapid cooking technology to online ordering, self-checkouts and contactless payments, these elements are all teaming up to create a seamless experience.” Offering more detail, Bona explains how these “restaurant-borrowed” innovations are speeding up efficiency and sophistication in convenience foodservice: • Digital Kitchen Menus: Frequently used in fast-serve restaurants, digital kitchen menus

directly connect the point-of-sale (POS) to the kitchen staff, ensuring order accuracy (including individual preferences) and managing order times and fulfilment. This technology is not seen by customers, Bona noted, but helps them experience a more efficient operation. • Rapid Cooking Technology: This is neither new nor unique, but has “clearly led the way for improving food quality and the ability to deliver it in a fast and safe manner,” according to Bona. This technology reduces the need for expensive fire-suppression systems, streamlines operations, and reduces labor costs. • QR Codes: Mostly used as a way of reviewing menus in restaurants without having to physically handle a paper/plastic menu, QR codes could become part of a c-store operator’s in-store ordering toolkit, Bona said. These codes eliminate the need to touch digital menu screens and can relieve pressure points associated with customers holding up the ordering queue when taking too

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long to decide. Instead, customers may leisurely use their phone to order.

“Perhaps this technology will eventually find its way into more self-serve foodservice equipment.”

• Online Ordering & Delivery App Usage: Accelerated during the pandemic, resulting in customers not only embracing the technology but becoming overwhelmingly in favor of it, online ordering allows retailers to stay more closely connected to consumers. “This technology not only raises the bar on convenience, but also allows retailers to stay more closely connected by anticipating ordering preferences, speeding up transactions, providing individually tailored offers, and connecting loyalty benefits,” Bona outlined. And for those retailers unable to justify the investment, third-party services like DoorDash and Uber Eats provide delivery solutions.

• Self-Checkout: This technology has seen a huge increase in adoption in the convenience channel and will continue to be a major driver of expediting the payment process not only for grab-and-go items, but also for prepared foodservice, according to Bona.

• Contactless Payments Systems: From cell phones to other smart devices, contactless payment systems reduce consumers’ need for cash and provide a safe and more hygienic method of transacting. This technology is not limited to payment — it has touched foodservice, too. “You can now buy a cup of coffee at the swipe of your phone using automatic bean-to-cup self-serve machines,” Bona cited.

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C-store retailers often unveil these tech innovations, as well as foodservice equipment upgrades, through new and remodeled stores and prototypes. In the case of the former Kwik Chek convenience store chain, operator of 47 stores in Texas, foodservice innovation came with a total rebranding initiative. Now known as TXB (Texas Born), the chain launched its new moniker with three new builds. These stores have upgraded menuboards (print and digital), cappuccino machines, and an enhanced foodservice program that will “revolutionize foodservice portability and packaging in the

“Technology lessons learned from restaurants are not only helping to streamline back-of-house operations for the [convenience] channel, but they are also driving customer interactions.” — Joe Bona, Bona Design Lab


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Join us as we help nurture and celebrate the exceptional leaders of tomorrow in the convenience store industry. The Convenience Store News Future Leaders in Convenience program celebrates and develops the next generation of convenience retail leaders by providing a forum for talented young business people to hone their leadership talent while recognizing the achievements of an emerging leaders under the age of 35 at the time of nomination. The CSNews Future Leaders in Convenience program provides a comprehensive workshop and networking program that teaches young convenience store managers and executives how to achieve their full potential as leaders in their organizations and the industry at large.

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convenience channel,” according to the Spicewood, Texas-based retailer. All 47 existing Kwik Chek stores are slated to be rebranded to TXB over the next three years. Late last year, Richmond, Va.-based GPM Investments LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arko Corp., embarked on a remodel initiative and unveiled a new store prototype that features, among other things, the addition of Frazil frozen drinks (coming to 800-plus stores) and a new bean-to-cup coffee platform that ensures a fresh cup at any time. A new checkout experience is also part of the prototype. In March of this year, La Crosse, Wis.based Kwik Trip Inc. completed a digital signage rollout to modernize its stores. Intended to give its foodservice program a boost, the project consisted of installing more than 1,000 Android-powered digital signage displays inside its roughly 700 c-stores. The decision to update its signage was primarily driven by the need to better communicate its in-store offerings to customers, as foodservice has become an increased focal point for the chain.

What’s Next? Future trends in foodservice equipment and technology are right around the convenience corner, according to industry insiders. Here’s what they see on deck:

Drive-Thru Only Drive-thrus have seen a significant increase in usage as a direct result of the pandemic, according to Bona, with many quick-service restaurants looking to streamline their menus, use artificial intelligence technology, and increase the use of digital menuboards to help speed up the process and make it more convenient for customers. “As a result, we have seen some chains like Wawa begin testing a drive-thru-only concept, with many others watching and seeing how this develops,” he told CSNews.

Integrating POS With Delivery With more consumers ordering through delivery platforms, more c-stores are signing up for food delivery channels, such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, etc. Along with these mainstream food delivery channels, other players are running convenience-specific marketplaces, such as Instacart and Cornershop, which represents a larger opportunity for c-stores, according to industry experts. “Building a digital offering is going to be the next big challenge for c-stores. It requires time to set up accounts on the

food delivery channels — creating the menu, training the staff — but most importantly, it takes a lot of work to manage this dayto-day for a c-store that typically runs foodservice promotions on a weekly or daily basis,” explained Zhong Xu, co-founder and CEO of Deliverect, a company that connects point-of-sale providers globally with food ordering platforms.

“Building a digital offering is going to be the next big challenge for c-stores. ... Most importantly, it takes a lot of work to manage this day-to-day for a c-store that typically runs foodservice promotions on a weekly or daily basis.” — Zhong Xu, Deliverect

“If a c-store wants to streamline the process, it should integrate POS with delivery,” he advised. “With a POS integration, we are able to automatically push online orders to the POS. The only equipment needed is going to be the existing POS.” Xu added that many c-stores will probably want to have a tablet (Android or iPad) in each store to manage the delivery channels. Once a c-store receives an order from a delivery channel, the staff must pick and pack the items — made easier by a tablet, which can show the full list of ordered items and coordinating images.

Bipolar Ionization (BPI) Technology Poor indoor air quality can not only impact food quality, but also cause illness among shoppers and employees. BPI technology, which is installed in store HVAC systems, reportedly removes smells and odors; helps eliminate mold, dust, bacteria and the spread of airborne viruses; and reduces airborne particles and germs that bypass normal ventilation and filtration systems. In a post-pandemic world, “BPI technology is a natural fit for HVAC systems in convenience stores,” said Tony Abate, vice president and chief technology officer at Atmos Air Solutions, based in Fairfield, Conn. “The mountain-like purified air will not only keep food and beverages fresher, but if store owners/ managers promote it through signage, advertising and social media, it will lessen apprehension for those who shop and work in the store.”

Robotic Chefs Bona envisions ordering systems being connected to a fully digitized kitchen where the order is received and the menu item is prepared through the use of robotics and then placed in “a personal cubby for pickup, activated from a phone to keep your order safe.” He acknowledges that this is in the early stages of development, but believes it is not that far-fetched in a retail world where “the cost of adoption may be high, but the cost of falling behind is becoming even higher.” CSN AUGUS T

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TECHNOLOGY

Ensuring the Right Products at the Right Time Closely managing inventory is crucial to a c-store’s bottom line and combining technology with internal and external data sources can help By Tammy Mastroberte

HAVING THE RIGHT PRODUCTS,

at the right levels, at the right time, and in the right place within a convenience store can make the difference between a profitable category and one that is falling behind in sales. Depending on the size of a c-store chain, this often falls into the hands of the category managers who are in charge of what is stocked, how much and when. And those who are combining technology with both in-house and outside data sources are more likely to see a positive bottom line. “Whether it’s a small retailer or a major chain, there has to be a data system with the pointof-sale (POS) and back office that is extremely proficient, providing data recovery, and it should update regularly with real-time data and results,” said Bill Nolan, partner with Business Accelerator Team, a group of convenience retailing consultants based in Phoenix. Nolan previously worked in operations and marketing for 7-Eleven Inc., and was vice president of marketing for Family Express Corp. in Indiana. It’s up to the category managers to pull this data on a regular basis, so they can see the quantity sold and the gross profit dollar contribution of the categories they manage. In doing so, they can understand exactly what is selling and what is not, Nolan explained. Category managers

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should continually be looking at the A, B and C sellers and flush the C sellers out of the system to eliminate cost and open up space for new items, he advised. “This process is the quiet moneymaker,” he said. “Category managers can make money for a company based on how they price, set promotions and negotiate, but a wise category manager uses data to make sure they have the top-selling items, enough space for them so they don’t run out of stock, and have a broad assortment in the category look good with A and B sellers.” While relying on internal data at the store level and company level is key, smart operators are also mixing this with external data from organizations such as The Nielsen Co. and IRI (Information Resources Inc.). These companies are consumer packaged goods data syndicators. Merging their top-selling data with the retailer’s internal data ensures a c-store operator is not overlooking new trends or products that could result in additional profit. “Don’t work inside a vacuum and think your data is telling you everything,” Nolan cautioned. “You could be missing something.” Many wholesalers will provide data to operators,


including the latest from Nielsen and other sources, according to Sharan Kalva, chief operating officer at C-Store Master, a distributor based in Huntsvilla, Ala. Category managers can use this information to see what the newest brands are in each category, what areas of the country these brands are popular in, and what they should be carrying in their convenience stores, he noted. “I always tell category managers to stay in touch with their primary distributor and/or manufacturer. This type of relationship will ensure they know what new products are coming out ahead of time,” Nolan agreed. “You always want to have the ability to be first in the market because of the high potential value or amount of advertising associated with that new item.” Core-Mark International, one of the largest marketers of fresh, food and broadline supply solutions to the c-store industry in North America, leverages data to make all of its decisions, “running it through Blue Yonder/JDA Assortment Optimization to help measure product performance using a weighted analysis, targeted metrics and individual product rankings to identify the right product mix,” said Chris Weaver, space planning analyst at Core-Mark. The distributor, based in Westlake, Texas, and serving locations in the United States and Canada, also works with convenience retailers by looking at shelf capacity and making recommended adjustments at the UPC level. “Through a focused marketing process, we craft a marketing plan custom to each site, and part of the analysis provides guidance on overall product-mix assortment and recommendations related to allocation of product by category,” Weaver said, explaining that Core-Mark offers an Advanced Ordering Solution (AOS), which is a combination of computergenerated ordering and computerassisted ordering. It combines computer algorithms, POS data and inventory quantities, and can provide visibility of both past and average quantities to help retailers make better ordering decisions. The distributor also has a partnership with IRI that provides c-store operators with the data necessary to help them make decisions, especially smaller operators who don’t have access to syndicated data on their own, Weaver noted.

An Eye on Shrink One of the best ways for a marketing department to determine shrink is to watch margins. If a category typically brings in a 40 percent margin and unit movement remains about the same, but the margin has dropped considerably, there is a good chance product is going out the door that is not being paid for, according to Bill Nolan, partner with Business Accelerator Team, a group of convenience retailing consultants based in Phoenix. “Regular audits can also help identify margin problems,” he said. “I’d recommend an audit at least once per quarter. However, if you have a problem store, then you’ll want to change that to monthly until you have solved the problem.” Many point-of-sale (POS) systems can be set to flag any issues in real time, as well as generate reports for each cashier, so operators can become aware of issues quickly and take action, said Michael Chalberg, marketing manager for Combase USA, a POS provider. “We have product reporting flags to call out any missing product issues right away, and also a shift report for each cashier to identify voids and comps,” he said. “Also, operators can set employee permission levels to control what certain employees can do in the system.” For categories with high shrink, such as tobacco, there are dispensing machines available for c-stores that first debuted in Europe and are now coming to the United States according to Sharan Kalva, chief operating officer at C-Store Master, a distributor based in Huntsvilla, Ala. “There are dispensing machines that only dispense an item once it’s been ringed through the register, and only the store manager has access to the back of the machine to stock it once a day,” he explained, noting that GM Global Solutions produces such machines. “It integrates with the back office and point-of-sale. An employee types in Marlboro Red on a touchscreen, takes payment, and then the item gets dispensed. So, there is no room for shrinkage and only the manager would get keys to the dispenser,” Kalva said.

Analyzing & Utilizing the Data At the most basic level — and what some single-store and small chains don’t always have — is point-of-sale and back-office software to scan and collect data for inventory management, according to Michael Chalberg, marketing manager for North Las Vegas-based Combase USA, provider of the KORONA POS system. Once this is set, retailers can start running reports to take it to the next level, like top seller reports, inventory analysis and forecasting.

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“Make sure there is reporting and analytics with your system, so you can see what is selling and what is not, because the scanning software itself isn’t going to give you the data you need. However, combined with accurate reporting, you can get insights to make decisions on inventory,” he explained. Many back-office reporting systems today will rank items sold, making it easy to find which are performing the best and the worst. Chalberg noted that the KORONA POS system breaks down the entire database of products by letter grade to look at A, B and C products, and a report can be run for an entire store in just seconds. “Operators want to look at the top sellers and the slow sellers, along with those providing the least amount of margin, as well as overall revenue,” he said. “Then, compare their data with outside sources to see what should be filtered out to make room for new items.” The goal is to always be eliminating products that are not selling so that when new items are presented and available, there is room for them in the planogram, Nolan pointed out. Also, if there is extra space at some point, operators can always add facings to the top sellers. It is equally important to look at “anchor” products that are carrying a store’s revenue, Chalberg said, and know what items can be put on sale for the best results and what items can be paired with them that can be increased in price.

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“Every month or two months, take a clean look at your product assortment, whether it’s energy drinks, water, salty snacks or candy, and make sure the 20 percent of your inventory that is making up 80 percent of your sales never runs out of stock. The only way to do that is with good data.” — Bill Nolan, Business Accelerator Team Another piece of the inventory management puzzle is a loyalty system. By tracking customer purchases, market basket data and more, c-stores can get excellent information on what promotions are working and what items to bundle together in the future, Nolan said. “This type of data can help in developing revenue, as most loyalty programs will give you market basket information that can be just as valuable as in-house data,” he said. “The idea is to link all the pieces together, [which] can have a significant impact on the profitability of the store.” Having the right product at the right levels means a store doesn’t run out of stock. Having the right product in the right place is about making sure top sellers are easily


seen and recognizable by the customer. Both manufacturers and distributors can be helpful partners for retailers when it comes to category planograms. “Planograms and product assortments should be reassessed quarterly, and operators should be willing to delete slow items whenever they find them,” Nolan advised. “Every month or two months, take a clean look at your product assortment, whether it’s energy drinks, water, salty snacks or candy, and make sure the 20 percent of your inventory that is making up 80 percent of your sales never runs out of stock. The only way to do that is with good data.” In some cases, technology can enable operators to break down sales by square foot in the store to see which spaces are selling the best and help retailers design their store in a way that is most profitable, said Chalberg, noting that this is an option with the KORONA POS system. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future there will be a technology that would easily create planograms and space-tosales projected planograms for a store, where all the retailer needs to do is look at it and move things around to fit their locations — overlaying their own information so they create a template of what is already selling and where they can do better,” Nolan said. In some cases, single-store operators or small chains may not have the technology suite or the budget necessary to fully analyze their data and performance, and this is another area where distributors can often assist. For instance, Core-Mark offers a SmartStock Program specifically aimed at this market to help smaller operators make better inventory decisions. “Once a store signs up for the program, they receive planograms with evaluated assortments that showcase the best of the best in the convenience channel,” said Weaver. “These planograms are built using the same data and in-depth category review we would use for chains, alongside our vendor community using consumer insights and trends.” Participating locations also receive weekly visits from a dedicated business consultant to evaluate categories for product rotation, accuracy of shelf tags, and inventory levels. Planograms are available on-demand through the company’s partnership with Repsly.

“It allows operators to feel comfortable in their decisions through the credit processing capabilities through Core-Mark’s ordering platform, 100 percent guaranteed product sell-through on selected product and vendors, as well as a spoilage allowance for qualifying SmartStock perishable goods,” Weaver explained.

Scan-Based Trading When it comes to stocking a convenience store’s shelves, some categories carry more uncertainty than others in terms of what will sell and what will flop. Some categories seem to have an ever-changing variety of new products coming through. One way retailers are responding to this is with scan-based trading (SBT), where they stock products but don’t pay for them unless they sell. “If a category is restrictive, volatile and has uncertainty, it is perfect for scan-based trading,” said Kalva, whose company C-store Master offers SBT to retailers, specializing in the tobacco and beverage categories. “[SBT] offers an opportunity for chains to experiment and tailor products to their customer base, and if something isn’t working, we exchange it and bring something else in.” The only stipulations are that the retailer is responsible for shrink and they can’t put the SBT products next to a direct competitor that is not on consignment. Another important piece to SBT working is scan accuracy, meaning if someone buys three things and it’s buy two/ get one free, the cashier can’t scan the same item three times; each item must be scanned individually to track it all. “This is ideal for items like vapor products, which some chains have not even touched. Now, they can have the confidence to try them and find out what the right products are for their stores, and there is zero downside,” Kalva said. “We have had some chains go through four sets of products before they find the right one for their market, but once they do, they generate millions of dollars of product just through vapor alone.” While not a lot of companies offer SBT, Nolan echoes that it is a great way to bring in new products without the high risk because operators only pay for what they sell. Novelty items, such as flashlights, toys and other general merchandise items, would be an ideal category to work with SBT, he said. “If you are just paying the vendor back on what you sold, that is a great opportunity to try new things and take some risks,” he noted. Technologies available to assist with inventory management continue to evolve in ways that make the job easier and faster, so category managers and marketing departments can spend less time analyzing and pouring over data and more time on other aspects of their jobs, said Nolan. “They can spend more time thinking about the innovation, pricing opportunities and promotions that will meet the needs of the customer and develop loyalty,” he concluded. CSN

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TWIC TALK

Jayne Rice, Yesway The 2019 TWIC Woman of the Year believes it is important for women to be open to all opportunity, not just vertical advancement By Linda Lisanti

the Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards program has recognized more than 300 of the best and brightest women making a positive impact on not only the companies they work for, but also the entire convenience retail channel.

NOW IN ITS EIGHTH YEAR,

TWIC is the only program that recognizes exceptional female leaders, rising stars and mentors among retailer, supplier and distributor firms in the convenience store industry, from the C-suite to the store level to the independent entrepreneur. In TWIC Talk, our quarterly Q&A series, we interview a past TWIC winner about what it’s like to be a female leader in the convenience store industry today — the opportunities, the challenges — and get their words of wisdom for up-and-comers seeking to blaze their own trail. This month’s TWIC Talk subject is Jayne Rice, managing director and director of institutional sales, marketing and investor relations for Brookwood Financial Partners LLC, the private equity firm behind

Yesway convenience stores. Rice is a member of Brookwood’s and Yesway’s Executive and Investment Committees. In 2019, she was one of the five women celebrated by TWIC as Women of the Year. CSNews: How would you describe the current state of affairs for gender equality in the convenience store industry? How does this compare to 10 years ago? I would say the current state of affairs for gender equality in the c-store industry is mixed. I have not been in the industry that long, but what I have observed is very encouraging. I know Yesway is committed to ensuring that gender is irrelevant when it comes to promotions, hiring or compensation. It does not impact our decision making. However, given the historical evolution of this industry being predominantly male, the senior positions across most firms are still held by men. And their way of doing business — on the golf course, over drinks at NACS, or even on hunting trips — is both habitual and successful. It is sometimes hard for women to break into or feel comfortable in those environments, and our way of networking and building relationships often differ. As women continue to take on a larger percentage of senior executive c-store roles, the way in which business is conducted, including how relationships are formed and leveraged, will also continue to evolve.

THE 2021 CONVENIENCE STORE NEWS TOP WOMEN IN CONVENIENCE PROGRAM IS SPONSORED BY: Founding & Presenting Sponsor:

Gold Sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor:

Silver Sponsors:

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CSNews: What is the most positive change you have personally witnessed? I have been impressed by the Top Women in Convenience recognition events, and believe the work of this group is making a meaningful impact on the role and prevalence of women in the c-store industry. I was honored to be recognized, and what has been terrific to see is the continued outreach being made to all of the women who have been part of this initiative. TWIC is continually soliciting our opinions, publishing our stories, and enabling our voices to be heard. That is inspirational, not only for the women being recognized, but for all of the other women working hard in this industry who now have a growing group of mentors and role models to help support their careers. CSNews: Along your career path, did you personally experience gender bias or inequality? If so, how did you overcome? Of course, yes; especially given that most of my career has been spent in maledominated industries. I know few women who would say otherwise. I am comfortable in challenging environments. I think, in part, because I grew up as an athlete, have three older brothers who were all athletes, and learned how to take setbacks in stride. I am comfortable competing, and have also had some success using my gender difference to my advantage. I can say unequivocally, however, that this is not the environment at Brookwood or Yesway, where there are many women in senior positions. Their voices and opinions matter and are valued. I have always been involved in and heavily supportive of organizations that support women in business, not only for networking purposes and to help develop my own career, but also to help with the development and support of other women’s career paths. CSNews: What barriers to advancement do you see still existing in the c-store industry? I do not see barriers. What I do see is a really dynamic industry that is changing rapidly and full of opportunity. For example, what seems like just a few years ago, there was a very funny commercial that highlighted how buying sushi at a gas station was a bad idea. Now, you can actually buy very good sushi and all kinds

of other fresh, award-wining food at gas stations. As the industry continues to evolve, so too will its related opportunities, and with that will come new voices that will lead this sector going forward. It is no longer an industry that does not cater to women. There will continue to be an even greater need for women’s voices at the senior levels of the industry to better understand how to meet this consumer base that maybe in the past had been underrepresented. On the Yesway executive team: Ericka Ayles, who was recognized as a TWIC Senior-Level Leader, is chief financial officer; Jen Fermano serves as senior vice president of finance, and was recognized as a TWIC Senior-Level Leader; and Lisa Ham, Yesway’s senior category manager of center store and beer, was a TWIC Rising Star. CSNews: What is your advice for other industry women looking to rise to higher ranks? I read the following quote from Sheryl Sandberg a while ago, but it still resonates with me because of my own career decisions: “Treat your career like a jungle gym, not like a ladder.” In my experience, it’s important to be willing to explore going sideways or even climbing down a rung to get to your ultimate career objective, as opposed to looking at your career path as a one-way ladder. I intentionally left a very good job at a large Fortune 200 company to seek out an opportunity where I could be in an entrepreneurial, fast-paced environment and be involved in the running and development of multiple cross-functional and firmwide initiatives. Never would I have guessed that by working for a private equity real estate investment firm, I would be recognized as a woman leader in the convenience store industry because of the work we have done over the last few years in creating a new brand from scratch. It is important to keep your eyes open for opportunity, which may not necessarily mean a direct promotion. It could be changing fields; it could be stepping down into something with less responsibility, but of more interest, that’s going to create greater opportunity going forward. It is important for women at all levels of an organization to be open to all opportunity, as opposed to being narrowly focused on vertical advancement. It is also important to have experience that is broadbased, especially in an industry that is as dynamic as this one. The c-store sector is experiencing both a tremendous amount of consolidation and evolution. In dynamic industries, the people who tend to succeed the most, whether man or woman, are those who can best adapt to change, learn new skills, and wear multiple hats. The more you can juggle multiple roles, and the greater number of skillsets you can develop, the better. CSN

AUGUS T

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Convenience Store News 97


STORE SPOTLIGHT

A Fast Track Into the Future GPM Investments embarks on a remodel initiative armed with a bold, new store prototype By Danielle Romano

OVER THE PAST DECADE, GPM

At a Glance fas mart

Size: 1,838 square feet Location: 2758 Virginia Ave., Collinsville, Va. Unique features: The first of 10 new concept stores planned for 2021 as part of an extensive remodel program; an enhanced overall customer experience through design, assortment, navigation and layout; a beer cave; bean-to-cup coffee; expanded roller grills

Investments LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arko Corp., has been focused on acquiring regional brands to gain scale in the convenience store marketplace. After achieving sizable growth via multiple acquisitions in the last 10 years, the company made a strategic decision to embark on a remodel initiative, armed with a new, bold convenience store prototype that puts its forward-thinking practices in front of the consumer.

CEO of GPM and Arko Holdings Ltd.

As part of the extensive remodel program, GPM recently began welcoming customers to the first of 10 new concept stores planned for 2021: a fas mart store located in Collinsville, Va.

Designed to cater to a broad customer base, the goal of the new store prototype is to improve the overall customer experience and ultimately drive more trips and higher baskets, Michael Bloom, executive vice president and chief marketing and merchandising officer at GPM, told Convenience Store News.

“We have been working on this prototype over the last year and are very excited about the extensive remodel program and the benefits it will bring to our existing customers, as well as new customers who will be drawn in by the fresh, new look. Our remodeled stores will feature an expanded offering with grab-and-go prepared food, beer caves, frozen food, an enhanced drink lineup, and much more,” said Arie Kotler,

98 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

“Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity to take learnings from our customers’ shopping behaviors, as well as the changing consumer environment, and implement key updates to our remodel program and in-store offering to provide an enhanced customer experience emphasizing the local regional brand,” Kotler continued.

Bold, New Offers

“The remodeled store features a fresh look from the inside out, including an easy-to-navigate format and expanded food and beverage offerings,” he noted. The remodel initiative will be spread across all of GPM’s convenience store brands, including fas mart, E-Z Mart


“The remodeled store features a fresh look from the inside out, including an easy-to-navigate format and expanded food and beverage offerings.” — Michael Bloom, GPM Investments LLC and Scotchman. The program focuses on enhancing the overall customer experience through design, assortment, navigation and layout. Prior to its transformation, the Collinsville fas mart had been closed for more than a year due to a fire in 2019, leading GPM to deem it the perfect location to debut its new look. The store is significantly smaller than the average convenience store in GPM’s portfolio, but despite its lesser stature, the remodeled location is now big in aesthetics and offers. Among the new elements featured at the Collinsville site are a beer cave, freezers for frozen food, grab-and-go premade sandwiches, expanded roller grills, a bakery, expanded cold beverage doors, and bean-to-cup coffee. As part of a grand-opening celebration held June 10, GPM offered exclusive, limited-time promotions to its fas REWARDS loyalty program members from June 9-23. At the same time, the retailer offered a number of promotions for all customers, including 49-cent fountain drinks (all sizes), a free value hot dog, and a free small bean-to-cup coffee. Customers could also enter a sweepstakes to win prizes from Monster Energy, Coca-Cola and Keurig Dr. Pepper.

GPM’s remodel initiative focuses on enhancing the overall customer experience through design, assortment, navigation and layout.

The Road Ahead GPM plans to use its new prototype design for remodels and raze-and-rebuild stores. The company anticipates investing approximately $360 million over the next three to five years to unify its stores in design, while maintaining the local well-known banners in each area. The initiative will encompass roughly 360 of GPM’s 1,400 company-operated locations across the country. The Richmond, Va.-based retailer — the fifth largest convenience store operator in the United States — intends to continue “fine-tuning” the prototype design throughout the initial rollout of remodeled stores this year, according to Bloom.

Over the next three to five years, Arko/GPM expects that the remodel program will generate approximately $72 million in incremental EBITDA. “In addition to our other strategic initiatives, including our continued core acquisition strategy as well as synergies from the recently acquired Empire business, this aggressive remodeling program underlies our confidence in our ability to continue to drive strong and consistent growth and returns for all our stakeholders,” Kotler said. CSN AUGUS T

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Convenience Store News 99


HOT PRODUCTS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

ATM’s

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HOT PRODUCTS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Kiosk Pre- Paid Services

C-Store Displays

AUGUST

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HOT PRODUCTS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Gourmet Pet Treats

General Merchandise

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HOT PRODUCTS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Age Verifier

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tkanganis@ensembleIQ.com AUGUST

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CLASSIFIEDS

Pet Treats

Why not?...

50% of your customers own a dog. Gross profit margins average 40%. Our retail prices are 30-50% below the big box pet stores. Our product variety and quality offers a selection for any type of dog. Our wooden display case is handmade in our Michigan workshop and brings attention to itself. Now Offering: Natural Dog Biscuits in 8 Flavors- Venison, Bison, Elk, Rabbit, Peanut Butter, Ham, Salmon, and Venison Dental. AND a Pig Ear Dump Bin.

It pays to be Different.

3302 Associates Dr. Burton, MI 48529

For more information, call

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CLASSIFIEDS

Credit Card Processing / Merchant Services

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CLASSIFIEDS

Services

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CLASSIFIEDS

Credit Card Processing / Merchant Services

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CLASSIFIEDS

Air Vacs

ATMs

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CLASSIFIEDS

Plastics

Equipment/Supplies

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CLASSIFIEDS

Air Vacs

ATMs

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CLASSIFIEDS

General Merchandise

Age Verifier

ATM’s

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CLASSIFIEDS

Petroleum/Equiment

Sunglasses

Credit Card Processing

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CLASSIFIEDS

EMV Compliance Services

Coffee and Tea Services

FOR ALL YOUR NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ADVERTISE IN

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ADINDEX Wholesale Refrigeration

7-Eleven Inc................................. 43 Add Systems............................... 21 Altria Group Distribution......... 2, 37 APAX Group, Inc........................ 83 BIC USA Inc................................. 5 Buzzballz LLC............................. 27 Casey’s General Stores............. 67 Cash Cloud Inc............................ 63 CB Distributors Inc.................... 7 Chicago Industries Group Inc..72 Circle K......................................... 45 Convenience Distribution Association.................................. 39 CoreMark International............. 85 Eby-Brown LLC ......................... 49 Essentia Water............................ 9 Forte Products............................ 87 Giant Eagle Inc........................... 47 GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health Care.................................. 116 Greenprint................................... 69 Hunt Brothers Pizza LLC.......... 17, 19

Imageworks Display & Marketing Group........................ 31 iSee Store Innovations.............. 75 ITG Brands................................... 59, 115 Liggett Vector Brands.............. 29 Living Essentials LLC................ 13 Mars Wrigley Confectionery... 41 Mason Vitamins Inc................... 81 McLane Company...................... 57 Mondelez..................................... 61 OnCue........................................... 73 Premier Manufacturing............. 33 Reynolds American Trade Marketing Services......... 22, 51 Strasglobal.................................. 70, 71 Swisher International, Inc........ 11 The Coca-Cola Company......... 53 The Hershey Company............. 54–55 The Wonderful Company/ Fiji Water..................................... 15 Tyson Foods................................ 65 Uline.............................................. 87 Universal Merchant Serv.......... Outsert

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone 773-992-4450 Fax 773-992-4455 www.ensembleiq.com

AUGUST

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8/5/2021 12:59:55 PM


INSIDE THE CONSUMER MIND

Fill It Up As Americans hit the road, price most dictates where they will stop for fuel With millions of COVID-19 vaccines administered and consumer confidence growing by the day, Americans have demonstrated a strong desire to travel this summer, especially by car. It is estimated that more than 47.7 million Americans traveled over the 2021 Independence Day holiday — the second-highest travel volume on record — and upwards of 91 percent of that travel was by car. Road trips equate to fuel fill-ups and other business-boosting opportunities for the nation’s convenience stores, gas stations and travel centers. The 2021 Convenience Store News Realities of the Aisle Study, which surveyed 1,500-plus consumers who shop a c-store at least once a month, revealed the following fuel-related insights:

2021

50%

Purchased fuel at a convenience store in the past month

2020

5.3

53%

Average number of times fuel was purchased at a c-store in the past month

In a typical month, where else will you purchase fuel aside from convenience stores? Only purchase from convenience store

31%

Gas-only retailer

30%

Grocery store

22%

Mass/supercenter

22%

Wholesale club

21%

Truck stop plaza

13%

7.5

Purchased fuel at a convenience store in the past month

Average number of times fuel was purchased at a c-store in the past month

Which factors are most important to you when deciding where to purchase fuel? Extremely/very important

Somewhat important

79%

16%

of c-store shoppers frequent other outlets for fuel in a typical month.

5%

Price

73%

22%

5%%

Convenient location

50%

Nearly 70%

Not important at all

35%

15%

At convenience store I like

37%

36%

27%

Store/gasoline brand

34%

29%

37%

Availability of contactless fueling

More women than men say they only buy fuel from a convenience store:

35% vs. 27% 114 Convenience Store News CSNEWS.com

When deciding where to stop for fuel, PRICE is most important among c-store shoppers.

More millennial and Gen X shoppers cite contactless fueling as extremely/very important.


98188_ITG-Royal-Haze-CSN-FP_FINAL.pdf

1

2021-06-17

4:25 PM

© 2021 ITG Cigars Inc. 4

D U T C H R O YA L H A Z E A c omb inat i on of sub t ly sw eet a nd ri ch ar o mas w r apped t oget her i n a natural le af wr a pper . Avai lab le f or a l i mited time.

Dutch continues to outpace the category and drive results for retailers: •

+111MM Dutch stick volume growth

$61MM in retail sales

Retailers who carried Dutch’s Green Envy LTO saw +33.6% cigar category performance

CONTACT YOUR ITG BRANDS SALES REPRESENTATIVE TODAY.

Source: MSAi – Total US, Latest 26 & 13 Weeks through 3-6-21 IRI Total Multi Outlet + Conv, Latest 26 Weeks through 2-21-21


Did you know... ChapStick® is the

#1 lip care brand in C-stores

representing nearly 50% of total lip care sales1 Are you carrying the 3 top selling Chapstick skus?

ChapStick® has

3 of 5 top C-store SKUs in lip care1

3 different skus for 3 different shoppers Regular – the #1 preferred sku Cherry – the #1 flavored sku Moisturizing – the only Chapstick sku with SPF

2x

Market share is nearly

that of next-closest competitor Carmex®1

Contact your local ChapStick representative on how to order or email John.L.Hankins@gsk.com 1. IRI Total C-Store: 52wks ending 6/13/2021. ©2021 GSK group of companies or its licensor. All rights reserved.


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