CSN - Dec 2017

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VIEWPOINT By Don Longo, Editorial Director

Looking Back, Looking Ahead Here are some trends to watch for in 2018


nce again, we’re nearing the end of a busy, event-filled year in the convenience store industry. Last December, my column focused on events that were both significant when they happened and, I felt, would likely have longer-range implications for the industry into 2017. I think it’s a good time to assess how those events and trends panned out, and project some new ones for 2018: 1. After a series of acquisitions, I felt that Alimentation Couche-Tard was “poised to shake up the convenience store scene in 2017.” It appears that the Canada-based retailer is meeting the challenge to rebrand the several thousand stores it has acquired in North America and Europe to Circle K. All the retailer’s locations around the world are expected to be rebranded to its new global Circle K brand by 2018. With the company sharing worldwide best practices, which has helped improve its game in the critical fresh food and beverage arena, Circle K will continue to shake things up in 2018. The other big chain to watch in 2018 is 7-Eleven. Fresh off its surprise acquisition of Sunoco, 7-Eleven For comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, appears to be on the verge of a at (201) 855-7606 or breakout year for innovation in dlongo@ensembleiq.com. both products and services. 2. A year ago, amid talk of Amazon.com’s potential plans to open brick-and-mortar convenience stores, I told readers to watch how the giant online retailer would bring exciting innovations to the convenience market. In 2017, Amazon plunged into the

brick-and-mortar grocery field with its acquisition of Whole Foods but, perhaps more importantly, this disruptor has provided fuel for lots of innovation in the c-store industry, particularly in mobile ordering and home delivery. Figuring out how to profitably get product that last mile from the store to the home is going to be the Holy Grail for retailers in the coming year. 3. Two other events of 2016 became trends in 2017. Fuel-free stores are multiplying, with Sheetz, QuikTrip, Kwik Trip and others planning more of these stores for urban or college-town locations. Dollar General unveiled its new smaller DGX concept early this year in Nashville, Tenn. While the dollar store chain has only opened a handful of these smaller units, dollar stores in general will remain a major competitor to c-stores in the coming year because of their continued expansion in traditional c-store product categories. For Convenience Store News, 2017 was also a good year. Our fourth-annual Top Women in Convenience awards event celebrated 50 of the industry’s highestachieving women executives, including five impressive Women of the Year. Also, our 31st annual Hall of Fame (see profiles of this year’s winners on page 34) drew a record crowd of more than 130 retailers and suppliers from the convenience store community. And the CSNews editorial staff added more hardware to our trophy case in October with a first-place award for Best Article/Series of Articles in the B-to-B Retail category at the 2017 Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards. It was another rewarding year, and I’m once again reminded of what an honor it is to be part of this vibrant, challenging and fun industry.



2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Bronze, Best Original Research, June 2015

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award

2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award

Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Silver, Best Original Research, June 2015

Best Single Issue, October 2012 Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012

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

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

2016 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Silver, Front Cover Illustration, June 2015

2017 Eddie Awards, 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

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

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

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

Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2013 2013 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine

Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2012

4 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

Brett Atherton Bolla Management Jon Bratta Core-Mark International Inc. Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery Edward Davidson ER Davidson & Associates (7-Eleven Inc., retired) Jim Hachtel Eby-Brown Co. Ray Johnson Speedee Mart

Jack Lewis GPM Midwest

Kirk Leff McLane Co. Inc.

Roy Strasburger Convenience Management Services Inc.

Danielle Mattiussi Maverik Inc. Kyle McKeen Alon Brands Inc. Richard Mione GPM Southeast Jonathan Polonsky Plaid Pantries Inc. Greg Scriver Kwik Trip Inc.






Operation: Visionary

12 | Sunoco Strikes Deal for West Texas Retail Holdings

7-Eleven CEO Joseph DePinto is in command of convenience retailing’s future.

14 | FDA Puts Labeling Requirements Back on the Menu

46 | Rising Through the Ranks From territory sales manager to director of trade and state relations at Altria Group Distribution Co., Blake Benefiel has made his mark on the c-store industry.

20 | Supplier Tidbits

16 | Fast Facts 22 | Retailer Tidbits 24 | Seen on Social Media 24 | Competitive Watch

Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 570 Lake Cook Rd. Deerfield, IL 60015. Copyright © 2017 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: One year, $93; two years, $152. One year, Canada, $110; two years, Canada, $175. One year, foreign, $150. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds. Single copies, $10, except foreign, where postage will be added. Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Deerfield, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Convenience Store News, P.O. Box 1842, Lowell, MA 01853.

6 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

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8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 (773) 992-4450 Fax: (773) 992-4455 www.csnews.com Direct Mailing Address for Convenience Store News: 11-43 Raymond Plaza West, 16th floor, Newark, NJ 07102


62 | Owning Convenience This year’s 25th annual NACS Show delivered a call to the c-store industry.


52 | Getting to the Source Convenience store retailers have a surplus of options for foodservice sourcing, but what does it take to find the right mix? FOODSERVICE

58 | Upping Your Dinner Game Lure consumers off their couches and into your c-store at mealtime.


4 | Looking Back, Looking Ahead Here are some trends to watch for in 2018.

BRAND MANAGEMENT Vice President/Group Brand Director (917) 446-4117

Paula Lashinsky plashinsky@ensembleiq.com

EDITORIAL Editorial Director (201) 855-7606 Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608 Senior News Editor (201) 855-7618 Associate Editor (201) 855-7619 Associate Managing Editor (201) 855-7604 Assistant Editor (201) 855-7614 Contributing Editor (303) 741-3377 Contributing Editor (201) 280-2614

Don Longo dlongo@ensembleiq.com Linda Lisanti llisanti@ensembleiq.com Melissa Kress mkress@ensembleiq.com Angela Hanson ahanson@ensembleiq.com Danielle Romano dromano@ensembleiq.com Chelsea Regan cregan@ensembleiq.com Renée M. Covino reneek@aol.com Tammy Mastroberte tmastroberte@gmail.com

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS Associate Brand Director & Northeast Sales Manager Rachel McGaffigan (508) 385-2524 rmcgaffigan@ensembleiq.com Associate Brand Director & Western Sales Manager Ron Lowy (330) 840-9557 rlowy@ensembleiq.com Associate Publisher & Midwest Sales Manager Kelly Fischer (773) 992-4464 kfischer@ensembleiq.com Account Executive, Southwest Cindy Deberry (803) 315-0694 cdeberry@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


10 | CSNews Online

Vice President/Custom Media Division Pierce Hollingsworth (224) 632-8229 phollingsworth@ensembleiq.com General Manager, Custom Media Kathy Colwell (224) 632-8244 kcolwell@ensembleiq.com

26 | New Products



30 | Grow Your Customer Base — or Die Be nimble, be quick: Here are tips to draw in new customers and retain them.

Director of Audience Development Gail Reboletti (224) 632-8214 greboletti@ensembleiq.com Audience Development Manager Shelly Patton (646) 217-1045 spatton@ensembleiq.com List Rental The Information Refinery (800) 529-9020 Brian Clotworthy Subscriber Services/Single-Copy Purchases (978) 671-0449 EnsembleIQ@e-circ.net


70 | The Invisibility Factor: Why Women Don’t Get Promoted Women are speaking up, but they are still less likely to advance.

Director of Production (973) 358-4875 Advertising/Production Manager (314) 403-4753 Art Director (224) 632-8245



74 | Rockin’ Retail RockStop Gas & Wash is the first-of-its kind Hard Rock-branded retail service station and car wash.

Executive Chairman Alan Glass Chief Operating Officer & Chief Brand Officer Rich Rivera Chief Financial Officer Len Farrell Chief Business Development Officer & President, EnsembleIQ Canada Korry Stagnito Chief Customer Officer/President of Enterprise Solutions Ned Bardic Chief Digital Officer Joel Hughes



90 | Getting Acquainted With Alternative Fuels New research shows that not many c-store shoppers are aware of the benefits.

Kathryn Homenick khomenick@ensembleiq.com Roz Gilman rgilman@ensembleiq.com Michael Escobedo mescobedo@ensembleiq.com


Premier Trade Press Exhibitor Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295.

8 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

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TOP 5 Daily News Headlines

How Wawa Surfed Its Way to Blue Ocean Success

The most viewed articles online.

1 | Oneida Nation’s Maple Leaf Market Makes Its Debut The Central New York-based c-store focuses on fresh, madeto-order food and convenient grab-and-go options. Its robust menu features fresh hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, pastas, fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, freshly-brewed gourmet coffee and more. 2 | Mintel Predicts Five Food & Beverage Trends That Will Shape 2018 According to Mintel’s Global Food & Drink Trends 2018, transparency and traceability will play a major role, and there will be plenty of opportunities for natural, tantalizing and unexpected textures, from chewy beverages to cookies with popping candy inside. Meanwhile, rapid expansion in the variety of food and drink retail channels will fuel the opportunity for recommendations, promotions and product innovations that are personalized based on individual consumer behavior.

In 2005, professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne changed the international business landscape with their 100-plus-week bestseller, “Blue Ocean Strategy,” which separated the underlying patterns that differentiate organizations that are competing in red oceans (highly competitive markets) from those that are creating blue oceans (new, uncontested markets). In their new book, “Blue Ocean Shift,” the authors show how any team can move from red oceans to blue oceans in a way that builds confidence, ownership and, ultimately, growth. Convenience Store News interviewed both authors and Wawa Vice Chairman Howard Stoeckel, who as CEO engineered the retailer’s transformation from a convenience store operator, fuel retailer and foodservice provider to a leading quick-service restaurant and leader in the fast-casual-to-go space that also sells gas and convenience items. For more exclusive stories, visit the Special Features section of www.csnews.com.

3 | Food Bag Stores Get New Ownership Atlantis Management Group acquired Food Bag Stores, a CITGObranded marketer of petroleum products. The acquisition included more than 50 fee-simple sites and a transportation company. 4 | PDI Acquires TelaPoint From WEX Inc. TelaPoint’s software enables convenience store retailers and petroleum outlets to improve the efficiency of their fuel replenishment, buying and administrating operations. TelaPoint manages inventory, dispatch and fuel pricing for 77 customers around the globe, 150 carrier companies and 67,000 sites. 5 | Foot Traffic Study Shows Strong Correlation to Restroom Quality Restroom quality and foot traffic have a strong correlation, according to the most recent quarterly joint study examining foot traffic by GasBuddy and Cuebiq. The study analyzed nearly 61,000 stations near interstates and found that those with above-average restroom ratings on GasBuddy saw a 33-percent increase in foot traffic over those with belowaverage ratings.


The most viewed New Product online.

Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager Budweiser is releasing a limited-edition 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager, a recipe that dates to the pre-Prohibition era when Adolphus Busch created and brewed a special Amber Lager for his friends and local community to enjoy. Budweiser is now releasing this recipe nationwide to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. Repeal Reserve boasts a higher ABV than original Budweiser — 6.1 percent vs. 5 percent — and comes packaged in a vintage stubby bottle. Anheuser-Busch St. Louis (800) 342-5283 www.anheuser-busch.com

CSNews Webinar: Driving Fuel Sales With E15 Convenience and fuel retailers are looking to give customers more choices at the pump. Could E15 be the promising fuel of the future that will help them boost sales? Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo recently hosted a webinar with Growth Energy’s Vice President of Market Development Mike O’Brien and Thorntons Inc. Senior Manager of Strategic 10 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

Initiatives Matt Nichols that tackled this question. The webinar, titled “Driving Fuel Sales With E15,” provided insight on consumer research, the availability and projected growth of E15, and how retailers can market E15 at their own locations. Go to the Awards & Events section of our site for an on-demand replay.



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Sunoco Strikes Deal for West Texas Retail Holdings The company’s sale to 7-Eleven Inc. is also in the latter stages of FTC review


unoco LP has taken another step toward substantially exiting its retail operations, reaching a deal for more than 200 convenience stores in the West Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico markets. The Dallas-based partnership announced on Dec. 6 that it signed definitive agreements with a commission agent to operate the roughly 207 retail sites that were not part of Sunoco’s previous pact with 7-Eleven Inc. Sunoco expects the sites will be converted to the commission agent in the first quarter of 2018. According to Sunoco, the “commission agent is a proven and profitable channel within our current fuel distribution portfolio.” As outlined in the partnership’s latest investor presentation, key elements of the commission agent model include: • Commission agent operates retail locations; • Generates stable rental income through Sunoco’s continued ownership of real estate; • Captures a material portion of fuel margin less a commission to the agent; • Provides optionality for future asset sales; and

12 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

• Commission agent model operations are included in previously announced 50-percent reduction in overhead. Sunoco noted the commission agent model was developed early in the West Texas sale process as a high-value alternative to an asset sale. The agreement comes eight months after Sunoco reached a $3.3-billion deal to sell roughly 1,100 convenience stores to Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven. The transaction is believed to be in the latter stages of the regulatory approval process with the Federal Trade Commission. Subject to completion of the regulatory process and customary closing conditions, 7-Eleven and Sunoco expect to close the deal in January. In addition to the convenience stores spread across 18 states, the 7-Eleven transaction includes the associated trademarks and intellectual property of Sunoco’s Laredo Taco Co. and Stripes brands. Sunoco’s Aloha Petroleum business unit in Hawaii will continue to operate “its highly efficient and integrated business model within Sunoco. Likewise, the transaction does not include Sunoco’s highly successful APlus franchisee-operated stores,” the company said.

HIGH-FIVES ALL AROUND. Congratulations to our own

Jackie Tressito on being named Senior Leader in the Top Women in Convenience.

Jackie Tressito RAI Trade Marketing Services Area Vice President

Building relationships. Building growth.



FDA Puts Labeling Requirements Back on the Menu NACS says new draft guidance still falls short in addressing retailers’ concerns


he Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with the Obama-era menu labeling requirements. Restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and other foodservice retailers must be in compliance by May 7. The agency on Nov. 7 posted a preliminary guidance page, along with a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “FDA is committed to leveraging nutrition to enhance health and reduce disease, and the agency soon will be announcing a broader policy effort in this area. One important step is ensuring consumers have access to reliable and actionable information about the foods they eat so that they can make more informed choices about their diets and health for themselves and

their families,” Gottlieb wrote. The new guidance, developed in direct response to comments received by the FDA during an extend-

ed public comment period, includes suggestions such as self-service buffets posting a single sign that is visible to customers rather than an individual sign by each ingredient. According to Gottlieb, the draft guidance reflects the agency’s “commitment to establishing a practical and sustainable framework for implementing the new menu labeling provisions.” After reviewing the new draft guidance, NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, said it still does little to address concerns raised by c-store retailers and various industry organizations. “The failure of FDA’s latest menu-labeling ‘guidance’ to address the concerns of NACS and others has left even the agency confirming that Congress must step in to fix its one-size-fits-none mess,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president, government relations for NACS. “The guidelines do nothing to pull down the barriers to compliance that have retailers facing extraordinary costs, uncertain enforcement and frivo-

“The failure of FDA’s latest menu-labeling ‘guidance’ to address the concerns of NACS and others has left even the agency confirming that Congress must step in to fix its one-size-fits-none mess.” — Lyle Beckwith, NACS

lous lawsuits.” Areas in the guidance that NACS cited as falling short of answering retailer questions include: impractical salad or hot food bar disclosures; whether marketing materials constitute menus; and which businesses are actually subject to the regulation. The FDA is accepting comments on its guidelines for 60 days before it moves to finalize them.

WWW.CSNEWS.COM | DECEMBER 2017 | Convenience Store News 15

INDUSTRYROUNDUP FAST FACTS The fastest-growing convenience store categories for the 52 weeks ended April 1

vs. a year ago were: liquid tea (up 27 percent), tobacco alternatives (up 25 percent),

premixed alcohol cocktails (up 19 percent), cookies (up 10 percent), and liquor (up 9 percent). Source: Nielsen’s 2017 Store Choice Driver Report for the Convenience Channel

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Along with coffee served at restaurants and other foodservice outlets, there are 33,129 gourmet coffee shops in the United States — a 2-percent increase in units from last year. Source: Spring 2017 ReCount restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group

Thanks to stops to get snacks, use restrooms and refuel, dwell time at c-stores increased slightly during the third quarter, with 70 percent of users spending more than 5 minutes at a store. Source: GasBuddy & Cuebiq study

Currently, 78 percent of merchants accept bank/credit card mobile apps, but only 60 percent of consumers are taking advantage of the convenience. Source: Forrester’s “The Next Phase of Digital Wallet Adoption,” commissioned by JPMorgan Chase

16 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM



ath Mo

n o ns

e r J o h n al ti o

n d elē

z Interna

Mondele-z would like to congratulate our own Heather Johnson, Customer Business Manager, U.S. Sales, as well as this year’s other honorees of the Top Women in Convenience Award. Your extraordinary achievements have brought countless moments of joy to the world. And the world is better for it.

© Mondelēz International group





It’s up to us to protect our community from underage tobacco use. To help prevent sales to minors, FDA has created the “This Is Our Watch” program. Look for your materials in the mail. Learn more about federal tobacco regulations and order free materials at www.FDA.gov/ThisIsOurWatch.


supplier tidbits n Conagra Brands

n Eby-Brown

Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire Angie’s Artisan Treats LLC, maker of Angie’s Boomchickapop ready-toeat popcorn. Conagra is buying Angie’s Boomchickapop from TPG Growth.

Co. LLC is acquiring the assets of After the acquisiAJ Silberman, a tion closes, the wholesale disIndianola facility tributor servicing will operate as AJ Silberman, a divimore than 1,000 sion of Eby-Brown. c-store retailers in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

n As the result of a merger with

Whirley-DrinkWorks!, Mugs Made Easy will become EasyGo! by WhirleyDrinkWorks! The new brand debuted at the 2017 NACS Show.

n Tyson Foods

Inc. completed its acquisition of Original Philly Holdings, which consists of the Original Philly Cheesesteak Co. and Philadelphia Pre-Cooked Steak Co. The company operates two plants. n Juice It Up! is

n An affiliated company of the

Ferrero Group is buying Ferrara Candy Co. from venture capital firm L Catterton. Ferrero expects to operate Ferrara as a separate unit. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

opening its first c-store location inside a Fresh Fill Convenience Store in Los Banos, Calif. The under-development site is scheduled to open in early 2018. n All A&W Restaurants across the





world, including 630 locations in the United States, are now serving freshly made root beer. The move is a testament to the A&W brand’s original craft beverage roots, the company stated. n Jack Link’s debuted its first

retail store, Wild Side, in the Minneapolis Target Center on Nov. 15. It is part of a larger branding effort by Jack Link’s that also includes sponsorship of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx pro basketball teams. n Monster Energy


1-800-295-5510 20 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

is continuing its sponsorship deal with mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor, which began in 2015. Monster’s iconic M-claw was on McGregor’s shorts during his Aug. 26 fight against Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.

Congratulations The Coca-Cola Company would like to express congratulations to the following for being selected by Convenience Store News as: 2017 Retail Executive of the Year

2017 Retailer Hall of Fame Inductee

Allison Moran

Joseph M. DePinto

Former CEO, Board of Directors, RaceTrac

President and CEO, 7-Eleven, Inc.

2017 Supplier Hall of Fame Inductee

Blake F. Benefiel Director, Trade & State Relations, Altria Group Distribution Co.

Š 2017 The Coca-Cola Company


retailer tidbits n TravelCenters of America LLC selected Paytronix

Systems Inc. as its loyalty and guest engagement platform. In addition to its Mini Mart stores, Paytronix’s platform will be used at TravelCenters’ branded restaurants. n Rudy’s Car Washes is selling four

convenience store/gas station combinations with freestanding car washes in Pennsylvania. Also included in the sale offer is a Gulf fuel supply distributorship, which supplies the gas stations as well as four non-owned independent gas stations in the area.

Three of the Rudy’s sites also have detail shops.

n Yesway unveiled a new cof-

fee program. The retailer’s Signature Blends Coffee is available in three varieties: House Blend, Breakfast Blend and Dark Roast. n 7-Eleven Inc. is partnering with

PayNearMe and the New York City Department of Finance to let city drivers pay for parking tickets in cash at more than 100 7-Eleven stores in all five boroughs. A $2.99 convenience fee applies. n Holmes Oil processed the first

ExxonMobil EMV transaction on the forecourt. The company operates 25 Cruizers convenience stores in North Carolina, including the milestone location in Wake Forest. n Sheetz Inc. is expanding its etha-

nol offerings with the help of a $7-million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant was part of the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program. n Rutter’s Farm Stores added turkey burgers to its cus-

tomizable burger menu. It is the first convenience store retailer in its market to offer turkey burgers.


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SEEN on SOCIAL MEDIA QuikTrip Corp., Tulsa, Okla.

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competitive watch n Walgreens Boots

Alliance will spend nearly $450 million and close about 600 stores in spring 2018 as it begins to integrate Rite Aid Corp. stores. The resulting savings will yield $300 million annually by the end of fiscal 2020, according to the company. n McDonald’s will roll out a new

value menu that includes items priced at $1, $2 and $3 each in early 2018. Nearly all of the chain’s franchisees have agreed to carry the new value menu. n Jet.com, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart

Stores Inc., revealed plans to launch a private label line geared toward millennials. The ecommerce retailer will begin by selling roughly 60 food and household items, with baby, beauty and pet products in the offering.

n Tesla is expand-

ing its network of Superchargers along U.S. highways into city centers, starting with downtown Chicago and Boston. This network of car charging outposts could come close to resembling gas stations in every way. n Wal-Mart

Stores Inc. is testing a new service that delivers groceries directly to a customer’s home refrigerator. The test is being carried out in Silicon Valley in partnership with August Home, a provider of smart locks and other smart home accessories. n Amazon’s

latest effort, Amazon Key, enables delivery of Amazon.com products into the homes of customers. The service became available to Prime members in 37 U.S. cities as of Nov. 8. n Ahold USA

n Kroger Co. is entering the restau-

Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse, Wis.

Hellllooo, DeForest!! We’re finally here! Thanks for helping us celebrate the grand opening of our new store!

rant business with a standalone eatery. Called Kitchen 1883, it will Kitchen 1883 will offer be located a American comfort food short distance with a modern twist. from the company’s Cincinnati headquarters, in Union, Ky.

24 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

is putting a halt on opening the small-format, urbanfocused bfresh stores that it had planned to open in Philadelphia as part ofits broader national rollout. The company now plans to integrate the bfresh brand with its Stop & Shop banner.

NEWPRODUCTS Grizzly Premium Dark Select

PRO2snax to the Max

American Snuff Co.’s Grizzly brand is expanding distribution of its new Grizzly Premium Dark Select moist snuff style nationally. Grizzly Premium Dark Select is made with 100 percent American tobacco and boasts a natural taste, with a hint of sweetness and a unique smoky flavor, according to the maker. The new style joins the brand’s Dark family of products, which also includes Grizzly Premium Dark Wintergreen, Grizzly Premium Dark Wintergreen Pouches, and Grizzly Premium Dark Mint. Grizzly uses “dark tobaccos” for all of its Dark family products. It’s a specific type of tobacco known for having a richer, more robust flavor profile. Dark styles are “fire-cured,” a process that adds a rich smoky flavor and reduces the bitterness.

Reichel Foods introduces the next generation of PRO2snax: the new PRO2snax to the Max line extension. These protein-packed meal replacements are made with fresh produce and healthy proteins, and pack up to 17 grams of protein and less than 350 calories each. Flavor combinations include: Baby Carrots & Mild Cheddar Cheese with Turkey Sausage Bites & Almonds; Sweet Gala Apples & White Cheddar Cheese, Hard Boiled Egg, Dried Cranberries & Almonds; Sliced Apples, White Cheddar Cheese, Dried Cranberries & Turkey Sausage Bites; and Sliced Apples & Mild Cheddar Cheese with Hard Boiled Egg, Dried Cranberries & Cashews.

American Snuff Co. Memphis, Tenn. (866) 843-0636 americansnuffco.com

Tyson Single-Serve Chicken Nuggets Tyson Single-Serve Chicken Nuggets offer the brand’s frozen, cooked chicken nuggets in single-serve microwaveable packages that help crisp the product, allowing for quick heating in-store or at home. The nuggets are made with 100 percent all-natural ingredients and contain no preservatives or fillers, according to the company. Tyson Single-Serve Chicken Nuggets are available in regular and spicy varieties. Six 3.7-ounce packages come in each case. Tyson Convenience Springdale, Ark. (800) 248-9766 tysonconvenience.com

Reichel Foods Rochester, Minn. (507) 289-7264 pro2snax.com

Boyd’s Cold Brew Coffee Boyd’s Coffee introduces a new cold brew coffee concentrate for foodservice customers that offers a 12-month shelf life for easier shipping and storage. Boyd’s Cold Brew is made with 100 percent Arabica beans and is a 40 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee blend. Once opened and diluted, it can be stored for seven days refrigerated or 12 hours ambient. This cold brew concentrate is available in a 13.5-ounce foil pouch and sold in cases of 12, with a price per case of $126.48. Boyd’s Coffee Portland, Ore. (800) 545-4077 info@boyds.com boydscoffeestore.com

Molten Lava Ding Dongs Hostess Brands LLC introduces Molten Lava Ding Dongs for the freezer aisle. The snack cakes are chocolate-coated and filled with chocolate crème. They’re ready to eat after just 20 seconds in the microwave and a short cooling period. Molten Lava Ding Dongs feature a 30 percent larger cake with 60 percent more crème filling and 20 percent more chocolate coating compared to original Ding Dongs, the company noted. The new product comes in boxes of 10 individually wrapped cakes. Hostess Brands Kansas City, Mo. (816) 701-4600 hostessbrands.com

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NEWPRODUCTS Barrilitos Aguas Frescas Fountain Drinks

Hershey’s Gold

The Coca-Cola Co. has responded to the demand for aqua frescas with a new fountain format of Barrilitos Aguas Frescas. Seven noncarbonated flavors are available: Pineapple, Strawberry Hibiscus, Mango Lime, Pear Cucumber, Watermelon, Horchata and Tamarind. Each Barrilitos variety contains 3-percent to 5-percent juice. Most are under 100 calories per 12-ounce serving, and all are caffeine- and gluten-free. The new product comes in two formats: bag-in-box (BIB) and frozen concentrate.

Hershey’s Gold is the first new flavor release by the brand in more than 20 years. Hershey’s Gold Caramelized Creme with Peanuts and Pretzels features a caramelized creme, with a combination of sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy goodness, according to The Hershey Co. The new product hits retailer shelves nationwide Dec. 1, and is available in a 1.4-ounce standard bar (suggested retail price of 99 cents) and a 2.5-ounce king-size bar (SRP of $1.69).

The Coca-Cola Co. Atlanta (800) 438-2653 coca-colacompany.com

International Delight Bulk Creamer Dispensers DanoneWave introduces International Delight Bulk Creamer Dispensers, which allow customers to quickly select and dispense their favorite creamers, while also helping operators cut down on time spent refilling and cleaning. Two-creamer and four-creamer dispenser models are available. Top creamer flavors include French Vanilla, Half & Half, Hazelnut and Caramel Macchiato, according to the company. WhiteWave Foods Broomfield, Colo. (800) 441-3321 internationaldelight.com

The Hershey Co. Hershey, Pa. (800) 468-1714 thehersheycompany.com

Churro Donuts Churro Donuts, new from Rich’s Foodservice, are a mashup between a Spanish churro and an American doughnut. Stores can offer Churro Donuts on their own, adding the included cinnamon sugar, or create a unique offering with melted chocolate, toasted coconut or caramel. The suggested retail price range is 59 cents to $1.29. According to the company, churros increased on menus by 29 percent over the last four years, and 73 percent of doughnuts are impulse purchases. Rich’s Foodservice Buffalo, N.Y. (800) 356-7094 richsfoodservice.com

Hoshizaki America Glass Door Merchandisers Hoshizaki America Inc. introduces a new refrigeration product line of glass door merchandisers. Each unit includes an electronic controller with LED temperature display and audio/visual alarms, a stainless-steel floor, and forced air evaporator for quick temperature pull-down. The cabinets feature large low-e multipane glass doors and interior LED lights. There are currently four models available: the 55.5-inch tall RM-10, which includes three epoxy-coated shelves, a recessed door handle, and stores up to 288 canned beverages; the swing door models, RM-26 and RM-49, which include five epoxy-coated shelves per section, aluminum door handles, and heavy-duty hinges with self-closing mechanism; and the sliding-door two section, RM-45-SD, which includes 10 epoxy-coated shelves. The sliding doors, with a stay-open feature and spring assisted self-close, will keep products cool and save electricity, according to the company. Hoshizaki America Inc. Peachtree City, Ga. (800) 438-6087 hoshizakiamerica.com

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Grow Your Customer Base — or Die Be nimble, be quick: Here are tips to draw in new customers and retain them By Renée M. Covino


he retail industry is all too familiar with the “grow or die” adage, as chains across various channels operate in the shadow of mega-companies like Amazon. But what about the smaller and independent players that have no immediate expansion plans? Does the grow-or-die concept apply to them? If the question is centered on growing the customer base, it certainly does. In many cases today, smaller and independent operators are more intimately in touch with their customers. “Small convenience store operators understand how important time is to their customers,” said JeanEric Penicaud, chief operating officer of Survey.com, which measures product introductions and more at c-stores. “This extends beyond their location and the time it takes to get in and out of their store, and into the role they play in their

customers’ lives.” Prepared food is a perfect example of how small operators are expanding the role they play in the lives of the communities they serve, according to Penicaud. “It is critical that they embrace the role of product curator to help their customers with immediate needs and grow their business,” he stressed. At the NACS Show this year, held in October, new offerings for parents, pet owners and health enthusiasts, designed specifically with convenience stores in mind, stood out to Penicaud as up-and-coming areas. Small convenience store operators and independents

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are positioned to be natural trend setters, he believes, because they’re able to jump on new items quicker than their larger counterparts, and this attracts new customers when the word gets out. Other perspectives on how small c-store operators can be new-customer magnets include: BE NIMBLE TO TECHNOLOGY

The simple business adage of grow or die is behind the advancements being introduced to the market by many technology companies looking to help give retailers an edge with their existing customers and potential new customers.

The fundamental goal of a small convenience store business is the same as the fundamental goal of a larger one — to attract a “rather steady increase” in its customer base, noted Jeffrey Smith, vice president of business development for software company Digital Social Retail. Seeing a steady increase confirms that the business is in line with what customers are looking for, he added. On the other hand, a plateau in customer base

Filter Tip

SMALLOPERATOR should be seen as a “call to action for a business to make changes, and those changes must come before the window closes,” he said. “Lack of growth means we have missed something fundamental to the current market, trends and needs of our customers and we are headed toward death.” Small operators, who are traditionally known to be more nimble and quick to change than larger outfits, can stay ahead of the customer growth curve by embracing new ideas and emerging technologies. It is how forward-thinking operators are differentiating themselves and connecting more intimately with customers, according to Smith. For instance, a proximity marketing platform that engages with existing and new customers by using current technology trends in smartphones, mobile applications and digital signage is something that many large retailers have yet to embrace, giving small operators an opportunity to embrace this and stand out, Smith explained. “This focus on local proximity and personalized customer-centric messaging is a great way to get your small-business message and branding out to potential customers with a bit of a ‘wow’ factor that can keep them interested and engaged in your store,” Smith said. This type of technology is also geared toward customer retention. “The current trend of real-time, ondemand, personalized service is where savvy retailers and operators can make it convenient for a customer utilizing technology platforms to return. Plus, it’s the opposite of a one-size-fits-all experience,” he stated. BE A ‘SOCIAL’ LISTENER

Small operators and independents should always be listening and soliciting feedback to find growth within their current customer base, according to Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com, a legal filing service geared to small and independent businesses. “This will also help you to grow and take on new customers because new customers are interested in the outcome of the feedback you received from your current customers,” she pointed out. To draw in new customers, fun promotions, enticing loyalty programs and overall “wowing” are good tactics for small operators, she said. “When you wow your current customers or offer something unique, they are likely to refer a friend or colleague,” she said. “Through that, you can develop new customers and continue to grow.” Retaining those new customers is a matter of

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engagement, in Sweeney’s view. “Ask questions, anticipate needs,” she said. “When you are interested in feedback and respond to customer feedback — positive or negative — you are likely to gain additional loyalty. When your customers feel heard, they are more likely to be loyal and stay connected with your business.” Sweeney also believes small operators have an advantage of being “more real” on social media platforms. She advises small c-store operators to share information about their offering, their people and their day-to-day happenings on social media. “Our customers, by virtue of exposure to our social media, feel that they know us and are connected to us,” she said, using her own small business as an example. “They perceive us to be fun, connected and engaged as a team. As a result, they want to be a part of working with a company that has that type of culture. It is through sharing the ‘real us’ on social media and with our customers that we retain and further engage with them and new customers that hear about us through them.” BE ANGLED, LOCALLY

There is an overall market movement toward local producers/manufacturers and, by extension, independents. “Small operators are in a unique position to take advantage of relationships; they can leverage local brands,” said Penicaud. Demonstrations, tastings and samplings with local producers can all contribute to a small operator being viewed as a “community player” by customers old and new. “Small operators have a powerful opportunity to test local brands,” Penicaud advised.

Knowledge of local products is a must for small operators and they should invite local brands, manufacturers and brewers, etc., to “do the work for them,” he explained. “Stay local in the approach — sponsor a block party, execute taste trends, demo new offerings. It is important to choose an area of the store that can be refreshed often.” When customers feel connected to a local business, they are more likely to just “wander in and engage,” agrees Sweeney. “People like to be welcomed and recognized at their local stores and if there’s that connection, they will likely pop in more regularly for coffee, water, gum, etc. If they are able to engage with store employees, they feel more devoted and are more likely to continue to return.” Proximity marketing is also a way to capitalize on the local angle to draw in customers with a call to action, according to Smith. However, he cautions that small operators with more than one store may find that what works in one location does not necessar-

ily translate to sales at their other locations — even if they’re close to one another. “With proximity marketing, a customer realizes ‘I can only receive these benefits if I act now because I am here now.’ This creates a unique opportunity for a business to take advantage of a customer’s fear of missing out (FOMO),” Smith relayed. CSN


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sk 7-Eleven Inc. CEO Joseph DePinto what the future of convenience retailing looks like and he’ll reach into his pocket and pull out his smartphone. “Click-and-collect, on-demand delivery, frictionless payment, the now factor. Our opportunity is to connect the digital to the physical store locations,” he said. “The KPI [key performance indicator] for today’s consumers is how quickly can it be at my door. People call it ‘the last mile.’ I call it ‘the last block.’”

felt there was a lot of power in the individual operator, the entrepreneur,” DePinto said. Back in 2005, 7-Eleven also had had success and became set in its ways. “We forgot who we were, and that is an organization that supports our stores and our franchisees,” he noted. Applying his experience from the military, including his education at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, DePinto instituted a companywide cultural change called “servant leadership.” This remains the foundation at 7-Eleven and is the guiding principle in



7-Eleven CEO Joseph DePinto is in command of convenience retailing’s future By Linda Lisanti & Don Longo As the largest convenience store retailer in the nation with 5,400 7-Eleven stores in the United States currently and an acquisition in the works that will increase that figure to 10,000 stores next year, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven is uniquely positioned to unite the brick-and-mortar world to the digital world, as DePinto sees it. “I’m very excited and bullish for the future,” this year’s Convenience Store News Hall of Fame retailer inductee said. “Consumers are changing as fast as I’ve ever seen them change. They want now, simple, easy. They’re completely redefining what ‘convenience’ is.” Change is something DePinto knows a lot about. When he was appointed chief executive of 7-Eleven in 2005, “bullish” is not a word he would have used to describe the business. Back then, the company had a lot of debt and because of that, it couldn’t be flexible, he recalled. The decision was made to franchise 7-Eleven and use those funds to pay down the debt. At the time, the company was 50 percent corporate-operated and 50 percent franchise-operated. Today, the balance is 80 percent franchise and 20 percent corporate. “I always

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how DePinto leads. “Everyone thinks the military is all about top down, but the military is really built around support. The leaders support everybody else,” he explained. “My job is to support our franchisees and those who support them.” Today, 12 years later, DePinto says 7-Eleven has cleaned up its balance sheet and is “on great financial footing.” He characterizes the business as “very strong,” and he’s proud of the servant leadership culture that’s been instilled. “While it’s never perfect, I look back now and say, ‘Man, we’ve made substantial change,’” he told CSNews in an exclusive interview. TEAM PLAYER

DePinto, who came to 7-Eleven after stints at GameStop Corp., PepsiCo Inc. and Thornton Oil Co., is the fourth 7-Eleven executive to be inducted into the CSNews Hall of Fame. His predecessor, former CEO James Keyes, was inducted in 2005, and 7-Eleven founders John and Jere Thompson were inducted in 1991. “Honored and humbled” is how DePinto describes

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1946 1950s 1960s





To make life a little easier on his customers, “Uncle Johnny” Jefferson Green has the bright idea to start selling everyday staples from the dock of a local icehouse in Dallas, Texas. The world’s first convenience store is born.

The name changes from Tote’m Stores to 7-Eleven to reflect the new extended hours – 7a.m. to 11p.m., seven days a week.

The one-stop shopping locations offer everything consumers need, including gas. New stores open in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

7-Eleven gets even bigger, with the opening of its 1,000th store, its first international location and the first 24/7 location in Austin, Texas. The Slurpee® and world’s first coffee to go are launched and 7-Eleven enters the franchising business.

Congratulations Joe!

Through The Years

1970s 1980s 1990s THE SELF-SERVICE MOVEMENT 7-Eleven leads the way, offering self-serve gas and the first self-serve soda fountain. Americans are also introduced to the Big Gulp® fountain drink.



7-Eleven continues opening new international locations, including stores in Australia, Sweden, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

7-Eleven starts shipping fresh food products daily to meet the needs of healthconscious consumers.

PRESENT NO SIGNS OF STOPPING With more than 62,000 stores – and counting – located around the globe, 7-Eleven is more determined than ever to continue innovating and delivering “what the customers want, when and where they want it.”

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his initial reaction when he learned of his Hall of Fame selection. And in true servant leadership style, he quickly begins to talk about his team and how this honor is really a reflection of their efforts. “I’m most happy for our team. It’s our franchisees and the 7-Eleven Inc. team that supports them that do a great job. My job is to be there for them, to serve them,” he said. If someone were to ask his employees about his leadership style, DePinto believes they would say he’s a supportive leader, always asking them what they need to get the job done. “I also think they would say I tend to be pretty aggressive to get stuff done and have a can-do attitude,” he added. “We may be a large organization, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like one. We

Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo (center) and incoming Coca-Cola North America President Jim Dinkins (right) presented DePinto with his Hall of Fame award.

can be nimble and quick.” Jesus Delgado-Jenkins, 7-Eleven’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, has known DePinto since age 20 when they were classmates at

‘A Healthy Tension’ With Franchisees Being a predominantly franchised business has its challenges, 7-Eleven Inc. CEO Joseph DePinto acknowledges. When asked what he thinks 7-Eleven’s franchisees would say about him as a leader, his response is candid: “Depends on which franchisee you ask.” In October, the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees (NCASEF) filed a lawsuit against its parent company, claiming that 7-Eleven Inc. has not fulfilled its promise of treating the franchises as independent contractors and business owners. NCASEF represents the owners of nearly 7,000 franchised locations in the United States. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenges certain provisions of the 7-Eleven Franchise Agreement and seeks monetary damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief for claims relating to unpaid overtime wages and unreimbursed expenses. According to the suit, franchisees have long complained that their parent company has been chipping away at their profits, increasing their costs, and exercising more control

over what is supposed to be an independent operation. Examples they cite include directing franchisees to sell any good or service for less than the cost of acquiring and selling the same, and imposing a regressive royalty structure that penalizes franchisees for increasing sales. About a month later, on Nov. 10, it was announced that during a NCASEF board meeting, the presidents of all 43 Franchise Owners Associations (FOAs) voted unanimously to not attend the 7-Eleven Experience, the parent company’s annual tradeshow for its franchisees. During a recent interview with Convenience Store News, DePinto spoke about the relationship between the parent company and the franchisees, calling it “a healthy tension.” The chief executive said he hosts a CEO Roundtable and meets with franchisees formally three to four times a year. He also spends as much time as possible out in the field. “I was in a store in Cicero [Illinois] yesterday that had just been remodeled. This franchisee is doing well, but I saw some

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more opportunity to draw more traffic to his store with signage. So, we’re going to get him more signage,” DePinto said. Sharing information is a crucial piece of the parent-franchisee partnership, according to the CEO. Because 20 percent of 7-Eleven’s stores are corporate-operated, DePinto noted that the retailer is able to testi ideas and then share the results with the franchisees. “We explain the reasons why we’re doing something; we share the facts with them. Most of them will come along, but there will those who dig in their heels,” he said. Because all of 7-Eleven’s franchisees bought into a system that offers support and branding to them, DePinto encourages them to take advantage of that system. He also pointed out that some of the retailer’s best ideas have come from its franchisee community. “We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “We’re a large business. When a franchisee has an issue, it may not be a big deal in the grand scheme, but to that franchisee, it’s a huge deal. We have to always remember that.”



Building relationships. Building growth.


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Competitively Speaking West Point. He has a great deal of respect and admiration for DePinto’s leadership and his ability to be “an inspirational visionary.” “Joe is very genuine and authentic. He wants to serve — serve the customer, serve our franchisees, and serve our own employees. At the same time, he’s also a very driven leader even as he remains humble, genuine and authentic,” Delgado-Jenkins explained. He points to his friend’s passion for innovation as one of his greatest contributions to both 7-Eleven and the convenience store industry as a whole. From 2005 through 2010, DePinto jumpstarted the company’s ability to introduce new products, especially in private label and fresh food, which remain key focuses today, according to Delgado-Jenkins.

DePinto’s Six Consumer Trends to Watch 1. Consumers are connected 24/7. 2. They’re on the go. 3. They’re time starved. 4. They’re eating differently. 5. They’re more diverse. 6. They’re more urbanized.

“We continue to innovate with fresh food. We start with the customer — What’s the right taste? How do they want to eat it? How do we deliver it? We’ve improved the quality for indulgent products, as well as healthier products. We’ve grown foodservice sales by mid-single digits for the last four years by improving the quality, taste and packaging from the customer’s point-of-view,” he shared. “In private label, we’ve had double-digit same-store sales growth for the past four years, and I believe we can do even better.” Jim Dinkins, incoming president of Coca-Cola North America and current president of the Minute Maid business unit, echoes that DePinto led the charge to fresh food. “He saw that consumer preferences were changing, that people were becoming more timestarved and that convenience was the sweet spot to meet those changing preferences,” Dinkins said. “He leveraged the strength and breadth of 7-Eleven’s geographic footprint to meet consumers’ needs.” Dinkins, who started working with DePinto seven

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There’s a lot of talk in retail lately about the need for constant innovation, especially with Amazon going after the consumer packaged goods business and opening brick-andmortar stores, but 7-Eleven Inc. CEO Joseph DePinto doesn’t see Amazon as competition. DePinto prefers to think of Amazon as “co-opetition,” a term he created. “We can cooperate with them. We have something they want — great distribution points in our stores,” he said. The chief executive recently visited an Amazon distribution center and saw for himself what all the buzz is about. “They have robots everywhere,” he noted. Even though he sees Amazon as more of an opportunity than a threat, DePinto does not advise his fellow convenience store retailers to take their sights off Amazon because if there’s a consumer need not being met, Amazon is going to solve for it. “We can’t be asleep at the wheel,” he said. 7-Eleven’s chief also believes the convenience store industry must keep its sights on direct competitors such as drugstores, dollar stores and quick-service restaurants. “Millennials want an on-the-go, one-stop shop, and small boxes like dollar and drug can offer more items than we can,” DePinto said, pointing out that 7-Eleven is protecting its business by implementing an “expanded assortment strategy” at its stores. One disadvantage these competitors have vs. convenience stores is bigger lots that make it less convenient to quickly get in and out, according to DePinto. Another strength he says c-stores have going in their favor is that they are deeply embedded in neighborhoods. “Community is built into the fabric of the convenience store industry,” he said. “We’ve been there for them for a long time and they’ve come to count of us. We’re trusted, while being close and convenient.” Convenience store disadvantages, DePinto believes, are an inefficient supply chain — the channel is still a direct-store-delivery driven business — and pricing disparities vs. competitors. “Pricing between channels is still unfair. Across many categories, the convenience channel faces higher costs than grocery and mass. The idea that convenience can demand a premium is no longer valid. Consumers won’t accept that anymore,” he said. Going forward, DePinto expects competition to keep increasing, particularly from new “small boxes,” although he acknowledges it’s not an easy transition for many retailers. “They’re failing because they’re doing business the same way just in a smaller box. Big box vs. small box is a whole different competency,” he said, but acknowledged that companies like Aldi and Lidl have “figured out how to do it well.”

ALLISON MORAN Retailer Executive of the Year RaceTrac Petroleum, Inc.

JOSEPH DEPINTO Retailer Hall of Fame Inductee 7-Eleven, Inc.

and our own

BLAKE BENEFIEL Supplier Hall of Fame Inductee Altria Group Distribution Company

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years ago as 7-Eleven’s team-lead on the Coca-Cola business, also praises his colleague and friend as a skilled strategic thinker. “He has a very strong understanding of the operational aspects of this business, so he can translate the strategy into concepts that can be successfully implemented in the stores,” he added. “And he has great leadership skills — going back to the type of person he is, and his military background as a West DePinto celebrated his Hall of Fame induction with his family. His wife, three sons, daughter-inPoint graduate. … He has the abillaw, and parents were all in attendance. ity to connect on a personal level all across the spectrum. He is able to identify with people and get the best around to read the label,” said DePinto. “Cut fruit, out of them.” salads, hard-boiled eggs, protein packs, vegetable DePinto agrees that 7-Eleven has made great strides crisps. We carry all that stuff. We will be a destination in the areas of fresh food and private label over the for food, and we will have healthy options. I just wish past several years, and he says millennials are the drivit had happened faster.” ing force behind both. Half of the retailer’s customer As for 7-Eleven’s industry-leading private label busibase today is millennials. 7-Eleven also over-indexes ness, branded 7Select, DePinto happily reports that with Hispanics. it will be a $1-billion business within the next year. “People are eating differently — snacking, more 7Select got its start in 2010, after the Great Recession on the go, more healthy options. I’ve started to see of 2009 made consumers ultra price conscious. During customers in our stores pick up a product and turn it that time, 7-Eleven also saw manufacturers pull back

Where Does the $3.3B Sunoco Acquisition Fit Into 7-Eleven’s Vision? 7-Eleven Inc.’s current 5,400store footprint in the United States is poised to expand by 20 percent with the retailer’s pending $3.3-billion deal to acquire approximately 1,100 convenience stores in 18 states from Sunoco LP. The acquisition was announced in April. At the time of the announcement, 7-Eleven Inc. CEO Joseph DePinto said the transaction supports the company’s growth strategy in key geographic areas, including Florida, the Mid-Atlantic states, Northeast states, and Central Texas. The purchase will also give 7-Eleven entry

into Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, and a strong presence in Corpus Christi and across South Texas. In addition to the convenience stores, the transaction includes the associated trademarks and intellectual property of Sunoco’s Laredo Taco Co. and Stripes brands. Sunoco itself acquired these brands through the acquisition of Susser Holdings Corp. and Stripes in July 2015. In a recent interview with Convenience Store News, DePinto said he views the Sunoco acquisition more as two separate entities: the first one being the Susser Holdings

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business in South Texas, and the other being the Sunoco stores in the Northeast and Florida. “Susser built an incredible business and we are really excited about that part of the business,” DePinto told CSNews. “The South Texas customer is heavily Mexican-American, so we can learn a lot about how to cater to that consumer.” As for the stores in the Northeast and Florida, DePinto said they are more traditional convenience stores, so 7-Eleven will be looking to bring its best practices to them, including private label. It’s also expected that these stores will be put into its franchise system.


McLane would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to Joe DePinto of 7-Eleven on his induction into the 2017 Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. Your invaluable commitment to the industry is an inspiration to us all and we are honored to have you as a customer.

Š 2017 McLane Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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on quality of product and packaging to cut costs. “We decided that manufacturers weren’t hearing what we were saying and we would have to go it alone,” DePinto recalled. “With 7Select, we strive for high quality at a fair value. It’s resonated with consumers, and we will continue to build this business. We offer a lot of differentiated items across all categories. We’re adding 280 new SKUs this year alone. Millennials love private label.” THE CONVENIENCE EXPERIENCE OF THE FUTURE

Industry leaders also praise DePinto for his embrace of cutting-edge technology and services that are redefining convenience. The list includes: drone delivery, partnerships with third-party delivery companies like Postmates and Tapingo, click-and-collect, Amazon Lockers, UPS Lockers, KeyMe self-service locksmith kiosks, Amazon Cash and PayPal Cash. There’s also the 7-Eleven mobile app and 7Rewards loyalty program, which has 9 million members. Still, DePinto tells CSNews, “We’ve only scratched the surface.”

“We seek to understand the customer and where they’re going, understand consumer trends, and then change our products and infrastructure to deliver on that.” “In our delivery business and click-and-collect tests, we see the transaction size is actually larger than the in-store transaction. Our delivery ticket is three times our in-store ticket,” he said. 7-Eleven is ramping up its digital team to be able to innovate faster. The retailer recently hired a new chief digital officer, Gurmeet Singh, who previously led digital transformations at Capital One; FedEx; and Intuit, the maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks. “Joe is a visionary and that helps us as a company chart the path for the future while preserving our existing strengths,” said Singh, who joined 7-Eleven in September 2016. He was drawn to 7-Eleven because with 5,400

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In his acceptance speech, DePinto thanked his parents for teaching him the importance of integrity, working hard and always doing the right thing.

stores in the U.S. and 64,000 stores globally, there’s an existing physical strength that can be combined with the power of digital. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population is within a mile of a 7-Eleven store “7-Eleven is already a leader in convenience and has a long history of innovation. My thinking is: How can the digital team at 7-Eleven redefine convenience?” Singh said. “Part of it is that we want to develop the ‘experiences of the future.’ These experiences will be inside the store, but they will be outside the store as well. We want to bring the store to the consumer wherever and whenever they need us.” DePinto rejects the idea that brick-and-mortar retail is dying. Rather, he says the golden ticket lies in uniting brick-and-mortar with digital. He envisions one convenience experience of the future being: The customer comes into a 7-Eleven store with their phone, picks up three or four items, scans the barcodes, hits pay and walks out. However, 7-Eleven is not seeking to be a “disruptor.” “No, we do not seek disruption for disruption’s sake. We seek to understand the customer and where they’re going, understand consumer trends, and then change our products and infrastructure to deliver on that,” DePinto explained. These days, he sees six consumer trends of importance to 7-Eleven’s evolution: 1. Consumers are connected 24/7; 2. They’re on the go; 3. They’re time starved; 4. They’re eating differently; 5. They’re more diverse; and 6. They’re more urbanized. “So now, it’s a question of how to deliver on these trends and link the digital to our physical locations,” the newest Hall of Famer said. “Convenience has been the last along this path. It’s coming in a big way.”





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RISING Through


From territory sales manager to director of trade and state relations at Altria Group Distribution Co., Blake Benefiel has made his mark on the c-store industry By Tammy Mastroberte


n his last year of college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., nearing graduation with a bachelor’s degree in science, Blake Benefiel took a course on how to prepare for interviews in order to secure a job with a great company. One of the key takeaways was the importance of doing a few practice interviews first so that he could show up composed and perform well in important interviews in the future. Knowing Philip Morris was a leader in its industry, Benefiel decided to sign up for an interview with parent company Altria when the opportunity presented itself — even though he didn’t do any practice interviews beforehand. “I ignored the instructions from my class and signed up for an interview without practicing and I can tell you now, I’m glad I followed my instincts,” he told Convenience Store News. “I remember walkBenefiel draws on his years of experience and knowledge gained to contribute to various industry associations.

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ing away from the interview impressed not only with the company’s business successes, but also inspired by the people I had just met. They were intelligent and focused people and, of equal importance, they were kind and easy to talk to. After my interview, I knew I wanted to work for the company and as the years ahead would reaffirm time and again, I’m glad I followed my instincts. I was hired and haven’t looked back since.” Seventeen years later, Benefiel — who was inducted into the supplier wing of the CSNews Hall of Fame in November — has found himself a professional home at Altria and in the convenience store industry. He currently serves as the director of trade and state relations for Altria Group Distribution Co. (AGDC), a role he rose to after initially joining the company in 2000 as a territory sales manager. He has been working in the convenience store industry since day one at Altria. “I can honestly tell you there is no other place that I would want to work. Over the last 17 years, I have had the opportunity to visit hundreds, if not thousands, of locations and I have found those in our industry — whether they are a single-store owner or CEO of a large chain — to be down-to-earth, authentic and focused on building trusting relationships,” he said. Starting his career as a territory sales manager provided Benefiel with a lot of experience and prepared him for the leadership roles he would later take on at AGDC. And that is exactly the way the company designs it. “One of the best things about Altria is when you join our sales and distribution function, every employee starts out at the same level as a territory sales manager,” he explained. “This provides our employees an opportunity to see the day-to-day operations of the business at the wholesale and retail levels, and to really understand how the business and industry work.” In his initial role, he had the opportunity to call on approximately 150 stores in Toledo, Ohio, on a monthly basis and build relationships with the people who owned and/or worked in the stores, he recalled,

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explaining that while some people think of the territory sales manager role as an entry-level position, many make an entire career out of it. “It’s a fantastic position with a lot of room for development and growth on both professional and personal levels,” Benefiel said. “For me, I found it very fulfilling to hit the streets every day and be in the stores representing the great brands of our 2016 Hall of Famer Bob Johnson of Pinnacle Corp. (left) helped CSNews induct Benefiel into the tobacco companies. To this day, I supplier wing of the Hall of Fame. occasionally hear from the territory sales managers in my old territory and they tell me the that there are open lines of communication with our store owners still ask about me.” state and trade partners.” In 2003, he became a unit manager, where his primary role was to oversee a team of territory sales man- INDUSTRY CHAMPION agers. This marked his first time in a leadership role. Having worked within the convenience store industry Altria has a “360-degree review process” and many of for the past 17 years, Benefiel also uses his experihis reviews were very positive, but he recalls receiving ence to contribute to various industry associations. feedback that he needed to be more open to different His involvement and roles with the associations have ways of accomplishing in-store tasks. Looking back, changed along with his career. this was a valuable learning experience. One of his primary duties as AGDC director of “Essentially, my team was asking for more flexibility trade and state relations is to “engage with various in how they approached their work,” he said. “At first, associations that are representative of the industries the feedback was hard to hear, but ultimately it was a in which Altria and its operating companies operate,” great learning experience for me. To this day, I consishe explained. tently work to find the right balance between providing Over the past few years, he has worked closely direction and allowing for autonomy for my team memwith NACS, the Association for the Convenience & bers. I think all leaders have this moment in their careers, Fuel Retailing; Conexxus; Convenience Distribution and I’m glad mine happened early in my tenure.” Association (CDA); National Association of Tobacco Benefiel continued to grow within Altria, becomOutlets; and countless other state and regional assoing a senior account manager in 2005 and holding a ciations. He currently sits on the boards of NACS, number of other positions of increasing responsibility Conexxus and CDA. before assuming his current role in 2014. In the posi“I have committed a lot of time to committee work tion of director of trade and state relations, he is now for these groups and others to help the industry move responsible for customer engagement, state relations, forward,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to take AGDC regulatory compliance, and the business manmy industry knowledge to the next level through my agement of select legislative issues. interactions and relationships with the leaders and His role also includes overseeing the development members of these organizations, and have found the and execution of various engagement systems within experience to be instrumental in the development my the company to enhance alignment with the trade for business expertise, general knowledge of the industry, the wholesale and retail levels, as well as facilitating and leadership skills.” state-level engagement. Overall, both the tobacco and convenience store “The key focus for my team is developing relaindustries are complex environments to work in, tionships based on trust, respect and integrity. Our and can be difficult at times, Benefiel acknowledged. tobacco companies work hard to align with their trade However, he finds that because the people working in partners and to work within the boundaries of very these industries “place respect and trust at the center complex federal and state laws,” he noted. “As part of their relationships, it is an incredibly encouraging of these efforts, it is my team’s responsibility to ensure and motivating environment to work in.”

48 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM



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50 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

1. This year’s event marked the 31st annual Convenience Store News Hall of Fame dinner.

6. Newest Hall of Famer DePinto also celebrated his birthday at the event.

2. Joseph DePinto and his wife Ingrid posed with Coca-Cola’s Jim Dinkins and his wife Lynn.

7. Anheuser-Busch’s Josh Halpern (center) and CSNews’ Don Longo presented the 2017 Retailer Executive of the Year award to RaceTrac Petroleum’s Moran.

3. Allison Moran celebrated her Retailer Executive of the Year award with a happy RaceTrac team. 4. The CSNews/EnsembleIQ team onsite took a break for a group photo: (from left) Lisa Leach, Don Longo, Paula Lashinsky, Rachel McGaffigan and Ron Lowy. 5. Sonja Hubbard, the first woman to enter the CSNews Hall of Fame, shared several remembrances of visits to Capitol Hill with DePinto as they worked to reform credit card transaction fees charged to retailers.

8. Kwik Trip’s Steve Loehr congratulated DePinto as Coca-Cola’s Dinkins looked on. 9. 7-Eleven Chief Marketing Officer Jesus Delgado-Jenkins just might have been showing R.J. Reynolds’ Mike Auger the retailer’s mobile app. 10. It was a “sweet” night for honorees Moran, DePinto and Blake Benefiel, each holding up their 5-pound candy bars presented by Hershey’s Dave Onorato (second from right).

WWW.CSNEWS.COM | DECEMBER 2017 | Convenience Store News 51


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Getting to the Source

Convenience store retailers have a surplus of options for foodservice sourcing, but what does it take to find the right mix? By Angela Hanson


ith foodservice becoming more and more vital to the convenience store industry, the decision to enter the category or enhance an existing program is likely a wise one — but it’s only the first decision in a series. Another that quickly follows is where and how to source that foodservice program, as retailers can choose from traditional foodservice distributors, broadline distributors or local sources. How should retailers weigh the pros and cons and decide which to go with? Step one is to decide what the foodservice program should be. This decision should not be taken lightly, according to members of Convenience Store News’ Foodservice Advisory Council. “You’ve got to come up with a concept that fits into

your skillset,” said Foodservice Advisory Council member Jack Cushman, foodservice director for Circle K Stores. The skillset can come from existing employees, or a new hire who possesses the needed knowledge and experience. Cushman noted that establishing a concept isn’t just about the financial and practical aspects of creating a foodservice program; it also serves a competitive purpose. Consumers typically make impulse purchases

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at c-stores and transforming into a foodservice destination will only be more difficult if a c-store offers the same selection as most other c-stores. “You have to have a point of differentiation,” he said. “To have that, you have to have a concept.” Having a solid sense of your short- and long-term goals, as well as a realistic understanding of your current capabilities, will provide a solid foundation for deciding who to partner with for foodservice sourcing — although it can still be a complex decision. Broadline distributors, such as McLane and EbyBrown, have a deeper understanding of the convenience market than companies whose expertise lies more with restaurants, but traditional foodservice distributors, such as Sysco, offer a broader range of chefs, recipes and suppliers for retailers to work with. “Operators need to consider what their program will look like in the beginning and what they hope it will look like in one year, three years and five years,” said Chad Dewberry, category manager at McLane and a CSNews Foodservice Advisory Council member. STAY LOCAL OR GO BROAD?

Experts recommend that convenience foodservice beginners turn to local sources because these companies frequently have lower order minimums, better delivery schedules, and better case counts or a willingness to split case counts. C-stores that work with broadline distributors may also find local companies to be helpful as a supplement for specialty items. “You’re going to be more important to them initially, regardless of chain size,” said Larry Miller, president of


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Miller Management & Consulting Services. While large distributors do care about smaller accounts, he said the options they offer to beginner retailers will be the same as what they offer to everyone else. So, Miller suggests that retailers open up their business to a local source and let them look, in order to make informed decisions. “Typically, they’ll be a lot more open and creative than the big guys will,” he said, noting that service levels and input support are things that should be especially important to c-stores that are just beginning to enter foodservice in a broader way than roller grill. Retailers that want to go beyond local but partner with a foodservice distributor that has specific convenience expertise may find that broadline distributors are the best option, particularly as many of the industry leaders have invested considerable resources into foodservice. Broadline distributors can also use their national

“Operators need to consider what their program will look like in the beginning and what they hope it will look like in one year, three years and five years.” — Chad Dewberry, McLane Co. Inc.

buying power to secure better costs on traditional foodservice items, and can often provide other resources. For example, experts at McLane’s Center for Category Innovation in Temple, Texas, use regional and nationwide data to help retailers better understand trends across the channels McLane services, while each of Eby-Brown’s distribution centers has foodservice managers who are dedicated to supporting retailers’ foodservice programs by assisting with menu mix, consumer insights, waste management, inventory control and more. MAKING THE MOST OF A PARTNERSHIP

Whether a c-store operator goes local, broadline or traditional, certain key steps should be taken to ensure it’s a successful partnership. Multiple experts agree that distribution partners

Our Foodservice Advisory Council DAVID BISHOP



Managing Partner Balvor Inc.

Principal King-Casey

Vice President, Foodservice Insights Eby-Brown Co. LLC




President Bona Design Lab LLC

Foodservice Director Circle K

President Miller Management & Consulting Services Inc.




Vice President of Foodservice FriendShip Food Stores

Category Manager McLane Co. Inc.

Principal The MPM Consulting Group




General Manager The Food Training Group

CEO Dirks & Associates

Vice President/Senior Analyst Q1 Consulting




President, Innovation & Design and Emerging Channels Buddy’s Kitchen Inc.

Director of Foodservice Rutter’s Farm Stores

Category Supervisor Fresh Foods and Beverages Murphy USA Inc.

54 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM


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should be involved in the menu development phase, to take advantage of their knowledge but also ensure future consistency. Location and area of coverage are factors that should be considered during this phase, not afterward. “A distributor’s ability to service your stores in the immediate, as well as in the future, is key,” Dewberry said. “If it is the intent of an operator to grow his/her brand with foodservice while also growing store count, it is imperative that the item mix attached to the brand be sourced in all locations. The last thing an operator needs is to invest time and money in creating a one-of-a-kind menu, only to find out their DSD [direct-store-delivery] or local provider cannot service their new location.” Additionally, even a distributor that can offer all the desired products may not be able to provide a convenient delivery schedule if it delivers different products from different sites. The inclusion of distributors in the menu development phase is particularly important if they have culinary experts or chefs that can assist with building a menu — something that should be more than crunching numbers to optimize product selection. “I think it’s as much art as it is science,” said Ed Burcher, vice president of foodservice at FriendShip Food Stores, noting that some larger distributors offer in-house programs that can calculate food costs and help retailers understand “The best approach them, which is “critical to is to have a primary recipe development.” Exclusivity is also supplier and a backup something worth considerplan just in case.” ing, even if retailers ulti— Mathew Mandeltort, mately decide against it. Eby-Brown Co. LLC Partnering with one distributor that can provide all foodservice products is cost-efficient; ensures consistent item availability; cuts down on the number of delivery trucks that could cause parking issues; and provides easier traceability, which is important for food safety. On the other hand, working with multiple distributors can give retailers more room to maneuver financially and provide flexibility, something that is particularly important in foodservice, where small dif-

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ferences in products such as bread can have a significant impact on a product’s taste. “The best approach is to have a primary supplier and a backup plan just in case,” said Mathew Mandeltort, vice president of foodservice insights for Eby-Brown. As retailers begin to transition past their time as foodservice beginners, Mandeltort said they should make changes that reflect their level of experience and earned knowledge. He recommends retailers start to change the way they view the category as it grows. “In the beginning, retailers who use local sourcing or even broadline distributors tend to primarily focus on what they need, when they need it. Like ‘I need a case of French fries for tomorrow,’” he explained. “As they grow, issues like invoice transparency and vendor agreement contract terms should come to the forefront. In other words, they should begin to manage their supply chain. If they grow big enough, manufacturers should begin to become part of that discussion as well.” Whatever choices retailers make for their foodservice sourcing, they should actively take advantage of the resources and opportunities that come with their partners. “Don’t be shy. We’re here for you,” Mandeltort said. “We know that a lot of people are vying for your attention and, on any given day, there are literally dozens of things on your plate, but the benefits of working with [distributors] on your foodservice program can be enormous.” CSN








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Upping Your Dinner Game

Lure consumers off their couches and into your c-store at mealtime


very day, we face multiple choices, both major and minor, when it comes to where and what to eat for dinner. The decisions range from the simple “Am I hungry?” to the notso-simple “Do I have all the food and beverage components to prepare a meal at home?” Dinner is an essential part of our daily routine, and there is always the By Bonnie Riggs Restaurant Industry Analyst, question of meal preparation. As a The NPD Group result of our ever-changing lifestyles, www.npd.com we’re busier than ever, working, taking the kids here and there, attending social events, and on and on. These activities result in many people and their families needing to think seriously about their dinner options on a regular basis. Despite busy lives, we increasingly choose to eat our dinner meal at home. Today, 80 percent of dinner meals are sourced from home. Even with more dinner meals eaten at home, it still remains an important occasion to the foodservice industry, with nearly a third of all visits taking place at dinner. Further, dinner accounts for more than 40 percent

of foodservice industry dollars or, said another way, $179 billion annually. SOURCE OF DINNER TRENDS

Since the recession, it’s a fact that restaurants and other foodservice outlets have lost share to homeprepared meals. In 2017, 18 percent of dinner meals were purchased at a foodservice outlet or restaurant, down from 23 percent in 2007. However, keep in mind that 49 percent of these dinners that are purchased from a foodservice outlet are consumed at home, which presents an opportunity for convenience stores. Dinner foodservice visits to c-stores currently represent only 7 percent of total c-store foodservice visits, but that single digit can easily be turned into a doubledigit. It will take understanding how consumers make dinnertime decisions and identifying where Number of Annual Dinner Occasions per Capita there are opportunities and how The majority of dinner meals are sourced from home, and only 61 annual meals those decisions can be influenced. per capita are purchased away from home WHEN WE DECIDE WHERE TO GET DINNER

We’ve all been there. We’re in the mood for something to eat, but not sure what it is or where we should go. Should we go to a sit-down restaurant, use takeout, or just stay at home and eat in? There are always lots of options available, but that serves only to make the decision-making process Source: The NPD Group/National Eating Trends and CREST, Years ending February 2017

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Category Trends + Insights from

more difficult. The question is: When are these decisions made? How often is this decision made at the last minute, and how does that impact the decision to turn to foodservice for dinner? To answer this question, we at NPD conducted a proprietary study that addressed the issue, “Eat In or Out? What Drives Dinner Choices.” The study showed nearly half of the decisions about where to get dinner are made that day. There are two different kinds of consumers: those who plan where to get their dinner in advance and those who make their decision the day of. Of particular note, the closer we get to dinnertime, the more likely we are to choose foodservice or a res-

Where to Get Dinner?

taurant. Among the last-minute decisions, more than a quarter of dinners are won by foodservice. And the closer we get to the weekend, the more often foodservice wins the up-for-grab dinners. DECISION DRIVERS FOR EATING DINNER IN VS. RESTAURANTS

Even in challenging times, we find many benefits to visiting restaurants or getting takeout for dinner. Dinner out is considered a treat in a variety of ways. Many consumers continue to point to the fact that there’s work involved with an in-home prepared meal — work from which foodservice spares them. When it comes to eating at home, the decision is largely tied to the cost associated with going out to a restaurant for dinner.

There are two different kinds of consumers: those who plan where to get their dinners well in advance and those who make their decision the day of

Source: The NPD Group/Eat In or Out? What Drives Dinner Choices

Dinner Decisions & Motivations for Choices Motivations for dinner food choices reveal the needs consumers are trying to meet

Source: The NPD Group/NET Motivations

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The importance of enticing consumers to leave their homes is especially important at the dinner meal occasion. How do c-store operators win this battle? The first way is with the menu offering. Menu offerings need to beat what consumers have available at home. New menu offerings must stimulate interest with variety, freshness and quality, which go a long way in meeting value expectations and the desire for more healthful meal options. At the same time, increased focus on service should have favorable payoff, as many of these visits are driven by loyalty. Superior service and speed of service are critical components of driving customer loyalty. Making customers feel valued is the key to building customer loyalty. These are the wants and needs to meet in order to lure consumers off their couches and into your convenience store for dinner. CSN

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Owning Convenience

This year’s 25th annual NACS Show delivered a call to the c-store industry A Convenience Store News Staff Report


ber. Tesla. Amazon. The world around the convenience store industry is changing so rapidly, NACS President and CEO Henry Armour told a packed house at the 2017 NACS Show, and thus it has never been more important for the industry to redefine the definition of “convenience.” During one of the show’s four general sessions, Armour called on the industry to own convenience, to “own the word that defines us, differentiates us and drives us.” The NACS Show is the premier event of the year for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. This year’s show, which marked the event’s 25th Henry Armour, year, took place Oct. 17-20 at NACS President and CEO Chicago’s McCormick Place. A record 24,940 attendees from 63 countries gathered, a 7-percent increase in attendance over 2016, according to figures released by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. The event featured four days of general sessions, 60 education sessions, and 1,263 exhibiting companies in a record-setting 425,800 net-square-foot expo. Returning to the Windy City after a six-year absence, “Connect” was the official theme of the 2017 convention. Armour urged the industry’s retailers and suppliers to connect with new ideas. He also shared what NACS is doing to advance the cause of

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“owning convenience.” According to Armour, the association is focused on three main strategies: 1. Rebranding — This includes a rebranding for the overall industry that drives home the core values and benefits that NACS members deliver to consumers, as well as a new logo for NACS that is bright and fresh and emphasizes the “C” for convenience. 2. Refreshing — NACS’ reFresh initiative is designed to highlight all the positive aspects of the convenience store industry. For instance, NACS was the first retail trade association to become a member of the Partnership for a Healthier America. It also recently became the first retail trade association to develop a partnership with the American Red Cross. And a new third partnership highlighted by Armour was NACS’ collaboration with Keep America Beautiful to address negative perceptions around trash. 3. Repositioning — NACS is telling the industry’s story to both the media and Congress. Armour pointed to debit reform, menu labeling and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) as major victories scored this year thanks to repositioning. Looking ahead, Armour urged everyone in the convenience channel to do their part to move the industry forward and spur continual innovation. “The internet has redefined convenience — you can get items in a couple of days or a couple of hours. As an industry, we must stay focused on giving our customers what they want now,” he said.

A Connected Workforce

A Connected Community

Keynote speaker Eric Chester advised attendees on how to better connect with their employees to create a truly inspired workplace. Contrasting today’s millennial workers with previous generations, he pointed out that finding, developing and keeping great people is much harder in today’s economy. Using examples from both inside the convenience retail industry (QuikTrip, Sheetz, Kwik Trip and Casey’s) and outside (Mars, Wegmans, Marriott and Apple), Chester provided case studies on how making employees feel valued and acknowledged creates a culture that, in turn, makes your store a fun and terrific place to work. Chester is the author of “On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out.” Today, “the onus is on the prospective employer to show how he/she can fulfill the prospective employee’s goals, not vice versa,” he said. He argued that too many companies “fish” for new workers when they should be “hunting” for them. This means beating the bushes of local high schools, trade schools and colleges, and incentivizing your top employees to refer friends like them. Companies should even hunt among their best customers and best competitors, he urged. Chester also noted that the best companies to work for are always trying to get better and they constantly seek feedback from employees on what the company can do to make their job better. “Listen, respond, engage and acknowledge what they are doing right,” the author said.

“C-store doesn’t just stand for convenience store. It also stands for community store,” outgoing NACS Chairman Rahim Budhwani said during his final address as chairman. Budhwani, CEO of Birmingham, Ala.based 6040 LLC, discussed how the industry’s focus on community is “critical,” as c-stores are strongly tied to the communities in which they operate. “I have seen firsthand how our industry makes a difference in communities,” he said. Recalling his time as chairman, Budhwani said he was able to learn new ideas from around the world, particularly during the NACS Convenience Summit– Asia in Tokyo and Sapporo, held in March, which highlighted innovation at Japanese c-stores with very small footprints. And this past summer, he and other U.S. retailers met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss bringing best practices from the U.S. convenience store industry to the market in India. “Our industry is successful because we share ideas, whether with fellow retailers here in the U.S. or with others around the world,” the outgoing chairman said. “But most of all, we succeed on a global scale because we understand the local customer.” Budhwani also recognized the importance and growth of the single store, the “entrepreneurial community,” reflecting on the usefulness and importance of engaging with NACS when he was a small operator working to grow his business. He acknowledged the challenges presented by ecommerce, but urged attendees not to be distracted by new technologies that are “shiny objects,” which can take their focus from community, which is what is truly important. “The community focus is our competitive advantage,” he said.

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Three “C’s” for Success

Don’t Discount Disruption

Incoming NACS Chairman Joe Sheetz, president and CEO of Sheetz Inc., outlined three “C’s” that he said have helped shaped the retailer from its earliest days and he believes can likewise help shape the convenience store industry at large: • Customers — Sheetz Inc. prides itself on providing its customers with fast and friendly service, and delivering quality products in clean and convenient locations. Part of serving customers well is staying ahead of the curve, the new chairman explained. “Our vision is to create the business that will put Sheetz, as we know it today, out of business,” he said. • Culture — In order to deliver the sort of service that will keep customers coming back, Sheetz Inc. makes it a priority to create a workplace culture that attracts and retains the people who will be serving them. Acknowledging the competition for quality talent today, he said, “We all have to be more attractive to applicants.” • Community — Sheetz Inc. has raised $21 million to date through its Sheetz for the Kidz charity. The employee-run charity was founded 25 years ago and supports the annual purchase of toys, clothes and other items for local children over the holidays.

General session speaker Chip Conley, an American hotelier, entrepreneur, author and original head of global hospitality and strategy for Airbnb, spoke on the issue of disruption and how it is likely to affect the c-store industry, using the rise of ride-sharing app Uber’s disruption of the taxi industry and Airbnb’s disruption of the hotel industry as examples. While these companies operate in a different space than c-stores, they provide an opportunity to learn how to anticipate and cope with disruption in general, he said. A common mistake is dismissing potential disruptors by being overly sure that consumers don’t want something. Much of the taxi industry was sure people would not want to ride in another person’s personal car, and many in the hotel industry were certain that travelers would not want to spend the night in someone else’s home — yet use of both Uber and Airbnb has skyrocketed across the country and outside its borders, leaving the disrupted industries scrambling to deal with these new competitors. A disruptive innovation does not typically arrive without some foreshadowing. Conley cited the creation of ATMs as evidence that customers prefer machines over lines. He also noted that innovation usually addresses an underlying need that isn’t being met, which can lead to it becoming part of the accepted mainstream in the long run. In regards to the c-store industry, he advised retailers to be wary of disruptors like Amazon and what the company is doing with drones, Amazon Go and its acquisition of Whole Foods. But he added that Amazon and other companies are unlikely to take over the convenience industry, especially if c-stores lean into their prime strength. “You’re safe as long as you take key steps to stay convenient,” Conley said.

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CONTACT US 401-719-2106 OR EMAIL: CSTORES@FGXI.COM @2017 FGX International, Inc. Energizer and certain graphic designs are trademarks of Energizer Brands, LLC and related subsidiaries and are used under license by Premiere Accessory Group, LLC. FOSTER GRANT is a registered trademark of FGX International Inc. IRONMAN® and the “M-DOT” logo are registered trademarks of World Triathlon Corporation. Official Product of the IRONMAN TRIATHLON. Used here by permission. All other brand names are registered trademarks of their respective owners used here with permission. .

The 2017 NACS Convenience Store News Show’s Top 10 Cool @ NACS Show 2017 New Products This year’s NACS Show once again offered the Cool New Products Preview Room, where visitors used handheld scanners to capture product and booth information for the exhibitors they were interested in, producing nearly 20,000 total product scans.

This year’s NACS Show featured a total of 1,263 exhibiting companies.

The 2017 Cool New Products Preview Room showcased 312 new products and services from 186 companies and based on total scans, the overall top 10 Cool New Products were: • Java House Authentic Cold Brew Coffee; Heartland Food Products Group • Protein Cakes – Protein & SuperFruit; thinkThin LLC • Profit Pusher3 Adjustable Tray; RTC • React & Sumpur; CAF Inc. • STOK Cold Brew Coffee Bulk; DanoneWave Away From Home • Hillshire Snacking Small Plates; Tyson Convenience • i-mop XL; Tennant Co. • Wireless Charging Pad, USB-C Charger, Spinners; Tell Industries • Brandle2 Promotional Door Handle; Marmon Group • Fresh-Cut Sandwiches with Flavor-Guard Packaging; Tyson Convenience

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In addition to being an exhibitor, and our editors covering all aspects of the event, Convenience Store News used the backdrop of NACS Show 2017 to make several award presentations. The convenience store industry’s top female leaders and rising stars were honored at CSNews’ 2017 Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards reception. The fourth-annual event recognized and celebrated 50 outstandFifty of the c-store industry’s ing women in the convenience female leaders and rising stars channel. Marcia Clark, the lead were honored at the Top Women Los Angeles prosecutor in the O.J. in Convenience awards reception. Simpson “Trial of the Century,” served as the first-ever keynote speaker for a TWIC event. Tom Colbert, director of information technology for Kwik Trip Inc., the nearly 600-store La Crosse, Wis.-based convenience store chain, received CSNews’ Kwik Trip’s Tom Colbert (left) was 2017 Technology Leader of the presented the Technology Leader Year award at a special dinner of the Year award by CSNews Editorial Director Don Longo. on the eve of the show. “Tom’s dedication to advancing the technological prowess of both his company and the c-store industry at large makes him a true leader and deserving of this prestigious award,” Don Longo, editorial director of CSNews, said in presenting the award. CSNews and Glanbia Performance CSNews also teamed up with Nutrition representatives sports nutrition company Glanbia celebrated this year’s Top 20 Growth Chains. Performance Nutrition to present awards to this year’s Top 20 Growth Chains. The annual ranking, now in its sixth year, is based on store count figures provided by TDLinx, a service of Nielsen. Among the top-growing retailers who accepted their awards at the CSNews booth during the show were Sheetz Inc., TravelCenters of America LLC, Kwik Trip Inc., QuikTrip Corp., Mirabito Energy Products, Casey’s General Stores Inc., CST Brands/Circle K, GPM Investments LLC, and 7-Eleven Inc. CSN


NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS. ©2017 Fontem. WARNING: This product contains nicotine derived from tobacco. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. ® blu , the blu logo, the my blu™ logo and Something Better™ are trademarks of Fontem Holdings 4 B.V.


The Invisibility Factor: Why Women Don’t Get Promoted Women are speaking up, but they are still less likely to advance


eteran journalist Lisa Ling has reported from war zones and North Korea, covered sex trafficking in America and the drug trade in Colombia. But there is one location that really tested her courage — the workplace. By Sarah Alter, CNN’s host of “This is Life,” Network of and the opening keynote speaker Executive Women at the NEW Leadership Summit 2017, told 1,200 mostly women industry leaders that she hasn’t always been a good negotiator for her career. But that was before a network executive told her that her show was being renewed for one season while four other shows — all hosted by men — were being renewed for two. Noting that her ratings were equal or better than the male-hosted shows, Ling was “compelled to put my foot down.” “I said, ‘That’s very white and male of you.’ I called my agent and said if anyone asked me why my show isn’t picked up for an additional season, I’m saying, ‘Because I’m not white and male enough.’”

Ling didn’t believe the network’s decision was malicious. “I think they didn’t ‘see’ me.” THE INVISIBILITY FACTOR

Ling is spot-on in her assessment. Being overlooked is a stubborn barrier to gender equality in the workplace. In the United States, women continue to be hired and promoted at lower rates than men, according

Convenience Store News is pleased to continue this series of exclusive educational columns by the Network of Executive Women (NEW), coinciding with the annual CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards given out each fall. Fifty female managers, TOP WOMEN IN executives and directors who work CONVENIENCE in the convenience store industry were honored in our 2017 program. In addition to being a presentation sponsor for the Top Women in Convenience program, NEW and CSNews have partnered to develop this series of columns directed at helping corporate leaders drive more inclusive company cultures.

70 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

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to the Women in the Workplace 2017 study by McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.org. In retail, where 60 percent of entry-level positions are held by women, the rapid dropoff of women advancing to the top ranks is striking: only 45 percent of vice presidents, 33 percent of senior vice presidents and 31 percent of c-suite roles are held by women, according to the report. The number of women in senior roles in consumer goods is similarly skewed: women hold 59 percent of entry-level jobs, but comprise just 38 percent of the industry’s vice presidents, 27 percent of senior vice presidents and 23 percent of c-suite executives. PASSED OVER IN THE PIPELINE

What’s behind the stubborn achievement gap? Great differences in men’s and women’s workplace experiences. Women have fewer interactions and receive less career advice from managers and senior leaders, according to the Women in the Workplace 2017 study. The researchers found women and men are asking for raises and promotions at comparable rates, but women are four times as likely to say their gender had a role in them missing out on a promotion, raise or opportunity to get ahead (37 percent vs. 8 percent). Exacerbating the achievement gap: Many women are not comfortable, confident or trained to advocate for themselves. The NEW Summit’s closing keynote speaker, Dr. Victoria Husted Medvec, executive director of Northwestern University’s Center for Executive Women, explained why women who are strong negotiators for their companies do not negotiate better for themselves: • Many women think they will be given things when they “deserve” them. • Many women don’t establish aggressive goals. • Many women don’t want to damage a relationship. “They wait for a promotion, instead of asking for it,” Medvec said. “If a man sees five job requirements for a promotion, he thinks,

‘I got this.’ To him, they’re recommendations, nice-tohaves. But a woman doesn’t want to be hired for a job if she [perceives] she’s ‘not qualified.’” Fears of damaging relationships aren’t unwarranted. Women who negotiate, McKinsey and LeanIn.org found, are more likely than their male peers to get feedback that they are “intimidating,” “too aggressive” or “bossy.” However, there are steps companies can take to level the playing field: • Invest in more diversity and inclusion training at all levels, across functions. • Ensure a diverse group is considered for promotions and stretch assignments. Don’t assume who may or may not want that role. • Develop talented women at all levels and review how candidates are selected for the line roles that lead to top positions. • Focus on accountability and business results, not hours in the office. Because they are more likely to be single parents or part of two-earner families, senior-level women generally have more family obligations than men, who often benefit from a stay-at-home partner. At NEW, we know these strategies can help bridge the gender gap and add real value to the bottom line. I urge industry leaders to, as I like to say, “promote profitable pipeline progress.” CSN Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, Retail and Consumer Goods, a learning and leadership community representing more than 10,000 members, 950 companies, 100 corporate partners and 21 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org. Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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Rockin’ Retail

RockStop Gas & Wash is the first-of-its kind Hard Rock-branded retail service station and car wash By Danielle Romano


asino and entertainment destination Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park is fueling a new kind of venture in The Buckeye State. On Oct. 18, the company opened RockStop Gas & Wash, the first-ever Hard Rock-branded state-of-the-art retail service station and car wash. Located on the northwest side of the Rocksino, along Northfield Road on Route 8, RockStop Gas & Wash boasts 45,000 square feet of space, including a 3,500-square-foot retail store and car wash building. Developing the concept of RockStop Gas & Wash and carrying it through to fruition was a “relatively quick process,” Mark Birtha, president of Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, told Convenience Store News, explaining that the company has continued to reinvest in the enterprise since the property opened in December 2013 in order to “continue to deliver fresh experiences and amenities” to guests in northeast Ohio. “We are constantly looking for ways to increase the value of our loyalty program and thus, the RockStop was conceived right here in Northfield as a continuation of our mission to ‘deliver authentic experiences

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that rock’ to our Rock Star Rewards members, team members, and those in the local and regional community. Offering a one-of-a-kind gas, retail and car wash amenity with a Hard Rock flavor was the next evolution in that vision,” Birtha said. PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS

Home to the first Rocksino in the Hard Rock family, Northfield is a regional gaming, dining and entertainment model. That’s why it was fitting to develop Hard Rock International’s first-ever gas station and car wash template here and provide a unique venue for local and regional clientele, according to Birtha. “This Midwest region is full of hardworking and entrepreneurial people, and this new product was a manifestation of those values and ingenuity, mirrored by the Hard Rock’s dedication to be cutting-edge and current in all aspects of its business,” Birtha commented. “Hence, you have RockStop, which will redefine the gaming business and the types of benefits and experiences we can provide to our guests.” With an opportunity to attract all demographics to

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the venue, RockStop Gas & Wash features a number of differentiators that make it a true “Hard Rockbranded experience on all levels,” the executive noted. RockStop Gas & Wash features six double-pumps for a total of 12 handles to dispense gas. The pumps are open 24 hours a day and feature Hard Rock-style lighting effects and LED TVs that broadcast music videos and commercials. Similarly, music, lighting and signage elements that call out the Hard Rock brand are found at the car wash. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the facility offers four different wash packages. The full-service retail store — which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — includes “all of the expected sundries, but” in a “rocking space with Hard Rock feel and flavor,” Birtha said, noting that Ohio’s first Pepsi Spire machine is available here, offering guests more than 180 flavor selections. Customers can also find unique Hard Rock-flavored slushies and a bevy of other food and beverage offerings. Hard Rock swag merchandise exclusive to this location, as well as RockStop pins, hats, shirts and other collectibles, are also available. “Everyone needs a full tank of gas and a clean car — especially with our weather! — and those amenities, combined with our special retail offerings, ensure that this experience caters to and attracts patrons of all ages, backgrounds and interests,” expressed Birtha. “Music is universal, and both the Hard Rock Star Rewards members enjoy Rock brand and the RockStop tiered discounts on gas purchases. have everyone in mind.” The loyalty program available at RockStop Gas & Wash is derivative of the company’s Rock Star Rewards (RSR) program. Cardholders receive automatic discounts on gas purchases determined by tier level: Rock Star members receive 5 cents off per gallon; Hall of Fame members receive 7 cents; and Legend Members receive 10 cents off per gallon. Anyone can sign up for free membership into the loyalty program and gain benefits at the Rocksino, as well as the RockStop. Additionally, all RSR members can use their points from gaming to purchase gas and car washes, too.

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Music, lighting and signage elements call out the Hard Rock brand at the car wash, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“No other gaming property in the state is offering this amenity,” noted Birtha. “In the future, we will be developing specific loyalty packages and promotions for RockStop users to complement the Rocksino’s existing program.” ROLLING INTO THE FUTURE

From Birtha’s perspective, there are a number of ways that RockStop Gas & Wash is beneficial to the community. For starters, the project created close to 100 construction jobs over the design and buildout period, as well as 20 long-term, permanent positions to operate the venue upon opening. The venue is supported by more than 800 team members located next door at the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park. Additionally, tax revenues and ancillary business development and support will create further “trickledown” opportunities; the experience will entice people to make a trip to Northfield; and it’s a “great benefit that our loyal customers can use whenever they want,” Birtha added. When asked if there are future plans for more RockStop Gas & Wash locations, the executive shared with CSNews that Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park and Hard Rock International’s ownership in northeast Ohio are excited by the business volumes and positive feedback they have received by guests, so the answer is yes. “Its early success already will translate into an announcement very soon of the next RockStop location at a Hard Rock property this spring. I would not be surprised to see RockStop go worldwide over the next few years,” Birtha disclosed. “More to come on that, so stay tuned.” CSN

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Air Vacs

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ADINDEX 7-11................................................................................................................36-37 Altria Group Distribution Company ...........................................................2-3,41 BIC ................................................................................................................49 Blu ECigs .......................................................................................................69 Campbell’s ....................................................................................................29 Cash Depot....................................................................................................14 Coca Cola ......................................................................................................21 Cookies United .............................................................................................55 E Alternative Solutions ................................................................................63 F.D.A. ..............................................................................................................18-19 FGX International .........................................................................................67 Greencore USA .............................................................................................57 GSK Group ....................................................................................................7 Hershey’s.......................................................................................................47 Imageworks Tobacco Displays ...................................................................5 Industrial Vacuum Systems.........................................................................15 JTM Foods .....................................................................................................59 John Daley Beverages .................................................................................22 John Middleton.............................................................................................31 Liggett Vector Brands ..................................................................................65 Logic .............................................................................................................25 LSI ................................................................................................................16 Mars Wrigley Confectionery .......................................................................53 McLane Co. ...................................................................................................43 Mondelez International ...............................................................................17 Procter & Gamble .........................................................................................91 RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company .................................................................9,13,29 Sargento ........................................................................................................45 Smart Food ....................................................................................................71 Society Insurance.........................................................................................75 Regional Swedish Match .............................................................................................11,27,92 Swisher International..................................................................................23 Tillamook Country Smoker .........................................................................61 TPE 2018 .......................................................................................................73 Uline...............................................................................................................20 Universal Merchant Services ......................................................................Outsert Wenzel’s Farms ............................................................................................33

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Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 570 Lake Cook Rd. Deerfield, IL 60015. Copyright © 2017 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: One year, $93; two years, $152. One year, Canada, $110; two years, Canada, $175. One year, foreign, $150. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds. Single copies, $10, except foreign, where postage will be added. Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Deerfield, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Convenience Store News, P.O. Box 1842, Lowell, MA 01853.

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Getting Acquainted With Alternative Fuels

The percentage of c-store shoppers who currently own an electric or hybrid car.


New research shows that not many c-store shoppers are aware of the benefits


15, E85, diesel, biodiesel, CNG, electric, hybrid — drivers today have a lot of options when it comes to powering their vehicles. To gauge U.S. motorists’ familiarity and interest in alternative fuels, EIQ Research Solutions, sister company of Convenience Store News, recently conducted a survey among consumers who visit a c-store at least once a month, own a vehicle and purchased motor fuels in any channel in the last month. Among the findings: Few c-store shoppers are familiar with how alternative fuels differ from traditional fuels. Only about 12 percent of the 500-plus consumers surveyed would classify themselves as extremely or very familiar.

Why have you not purchased alternative fuels? Alternative fuels not available in locations where I purchase motor fuel Unsure about the fuel economy/mileage of alternative fuels Concern that alternative fuels will damage my vehicle Other

43.9% 36.5% 34.1% 11.4%

Base: 367 regular c-store patrons who purchased motor fuel (in any channel) in the prior month, but not alternative fuels Source: Convenience Store News Market Research, 2017

More than half of c-store shoppers in the Northeast (55.4%) say they don’t purchase alternative fuel because there’s no availability.

14.4% The percentage of c-store shoppers who say they are extremely or very likely to own an electric or hybrid car in the next five years.

How familiar are you with alternative fuels? Extremely Very Somewhat Not very Not at all — What are alternative fuels?

2.6% 9.0% 33.9% 41.3% 13.2%

Base: 501 regular c-store patrons who purchased motor fuel (in any channel) in the prior month Source: Convenience Store News Market Research, 2017

C-store shoppers most familiar with alternative fuels are male, aged 25-34, urban, and with an annual income of more than $100,000.

Have you ever purchased any of the following types of alternative fuels?

Want to collaborate and share expertise with your peers? The Council of Retail Experts (CORE) is an exclusive network of convenience store retail leaders who do just that. For more information on how to join CORE, please visit www.cvcoreinsights.com.

Regular diesel E85 Other ethanol blends E15 Biodiesel Compressed natural gas (CNG) Other I have not purchased alternative fuel before

10.4% 10.0% 7.2% 3.4% 2.6% 0.4% 0.6% 73.3%

Base: 501 regular c-store patrons who purchased motor fuel (in any channel) in the prior month Source: Convenience Store News Market Research, 2017 Females are more likely than males to Survey respondents sourced via ProdegeMR, a leading provider of data collection solutions for the research industry. Visit www.prodegemr.com for more info. 90 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

say they’ve never purchased alternative fuel (78.6% vs. 67.6%).

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