CSN - Dec 2018

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Hall of Famer Jay Ricker took a tank wagon oil business and turned it into a leading convenience store chain.

SPECIAL SECTION: 2019 CATEGORY PLANNER Jay Ricker (left) accepts his Hall of Fame trophy from Jack Stout of 7-Eleven Inc.


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The Meaning of Leadership in Convenience Retailing The most successful c-store industry leaders embrace and create change AS I WRITE THIS,

I’m getting ready to host the 32nd annual Convenience Store News Hall of Fame induction ceremony. We are honoring three of the most important pioneers and business leaders in the convenience store industry: Jay Ricker, founder of Indiana-based Ricker Oil Co., Mondelez International’s Rick Brindle and Joe Sheetz, CEO of the eponymously named chain of c-stores (see page 32 for our full Hall of Fame coverage).

Prior to the Hall of Fame ceremony, we’ll be saluting a few of the retail industry’s top up-and-comers. The inaugural Future Leaders in Convenience workshop and awards event kicks off a full day of recognizing and celebrating leadership in the c-store industry. It’s a great way to cap off a year that has seen convenience channel leaders begin redefining the meaning of “convenience” to meet the needs of the changing customer base. Consumers want better-for-you beverages and snacks. They want increased transparency and more natural ingredients. Low-sugar, low-carb, paleo and keto-influenced diets, as well as semi-vegetarian “flexitarian” eaters, are impacting foodservice menus. Social consciousness is also growing in importance as millennials and Generation Z drive trends supporting a healthy environment, social justice and diversity. We’re seeing more chains emulating innovative independents, like Choice Market in Denver and Locali in Los Angeles, by expanding their offerings of local, organic and natural products. (The CEOs of both companies were guest speakers at the recent Convenience Store News Foodservice Exchange in Dallas.) 7-Eleven, for instance, uncovered hundreds of

emerging brands — many of them from the natural grocer space — at its recent Next Up event. And other chains, such as Rutter’s, are taking the lead in promoting and selling products from local vendors. Convenience stores are no longer laggards in retail technology either. From frictionless shopping (think Ricker Oil, Family Express, Shell Oil and BP) to voice-activated ordering (think Sheetz), c-store retailers are proactively shaping an exciting, new retail world. It’s been a pretty exciting year for Convenience Store News, too. We continued our leadership in the c-store media world with another successful Top Women in Convenience awards reception in October. We also reached new highs in website traffic, and our CSNews.com brand site was recognized as one of three finalists by Folio: magazine for the best website in businessto-business media. Our print magazine was recognized, too, as a finalist for Best Full Issue and Best Editorial Use of Data. I’m so proud of what I feel is the best editorial team in retail B2B media.

Finalist, Best Editorial Use of Data, June 2017

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

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

For comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, at (201) 855-7606 or dlongo@ensembleiq.com.


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

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

Brett Atherton Bolla Management

Vito Maurici McLane Co. Inc.

Jon Bratta Core-Mark International Inc.

Jack Lewis GPM Midwest

Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery Edward Davidson ER Davidson & Associates (7-Eleven Inc., retired)

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

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

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

Jim Hachtel Eby-Brown Co.

Roy Strasburger Strasburger Retail

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

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

Ray Johnson Speedee Mart

Frank White Yesway

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

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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

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



Have a happy holiday season and an exciting, rewarding new year.


2018 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award


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



January 2019


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32 Building a Legacy Hall of Famer Jay Ricker took a tank wagon oil business and turned it into a leading convenience store chain.

4 The Meaning of Leadership in Convenience Retailing The most successful c-store industry leaders embrace and create change.

40 The Road to Leadership Hall of Famer Rick Brindle’s 40-year career has seen him advance from food clerk to vice president.

80 Laura Asbell, Mondelez International Inc. The 2016 TWIC Woman of the Year says organizations must change to support a dynamic workforce.

10 CSNews Online EXPERT’S VIEW

22 New Products


52 2019 Category Planner A c-store category manager’s reference toolbox for planning business strategy for the coming year.



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


26 7 Approaches to Make Better Decisions for Your C-store You should always be striving to improve your approach for better business results. STORE SPOTLIGHT


78 A Differentiated Experience Shell Select puts the emphasis on local, culinary-inspired food and beverage offers.

81 An Exceptionally Active Year in M&A Many of the market conditions that have acted as a catalyst seem firmly entrenched. GETTING TO THE CORE

98 The Strengths & Weaknesses of C-stores Shopper research reveals the convenience channel needs a new value proposition.



GROWTH Our retail relationships are built on our desire to work collaboratively and effectively to meet the diverse needs of our customers and their shoppers.


FOOD We are transforming our food, beverages, and snacks, making them affordable and accessible to all.


VO LU M E 54 N UMB ER 12


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 BRAND MANAGEMENT Vice President/Group Brand Director Paula Lashinsky (917) 446-4117 plashinsky@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL Editorial Director (201) 855-7606

Don Longo dlongo@ensembleiq.com

Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608

Linda Lisanti llisanti@ensembleiq.com

Senior News Editor (201) 855-7618

Melissa Kress mkress@ensembleiq.com

Associate Editor (201) 855-7619

Angela Hanson ahanson@ensembleiq.com

Associate Managing Editor (201) 855-7604



12 Speedway Expanding HQ to Support Andeavor Acquisition

70 What’s Hot on C-store Menus? QuickChek’s Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese delivers warmth this fall.

14 Fast Facts


14 More Convenience Store Chains Enter Cashierless Space

71 Vapor Products Under Fire The Food and Drug Administration takes a strong regulatory stance on flavors.

18 Retailer Tidbits 20 In the Public Eye

Contributing Editor (303) 741-3377

Renée M. Covino reneek@aol.com

Contributing Editor (201) 280-2614

Tammy Mastroberte tmastroberte@gmail.com



16 Eye on Growth

Danielle Romano dromano@ensembleiq.com

Associate Brand Director & Northeast Sales Manager (508) 385-2524

Rachel McGaffigan rmcgaffigan@ensembleiq.com

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

Ron Lowy rlowy@ensembleiq.com

Associate Publisher & Midwest Sales Manager Kelly Fischer (773) 992-4464 kfischer@ensembleiq.com Account Executive & Classified Advertising Terry Kanganis (201) 855-7615 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com Classified Production Manager Mary Beth Medley (856) 809-0050 marybeth@marybethmedley.com EVENTS


74 Giving Consumers All the Fuel They Need Fuels Leader of the Year Rick Altizer oversees exciting growth at BP North America. HEALTH & BEAUTY CARE

76 The Intricacies of HBC Follow these five best practices to craft the ideal health & beauty care section.

Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several (860) 830-8321 eseveral@ensembleiq.com AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT Director of Audience Engagement Gail Reboletti (224) 632-8214 greboletti@ensembleiq.com Audience Engagement Manager (215) 301-0593


Creative Director (973) 607-1320 Advertising/Production Manager (773) 992-4418

46 Take on Transparency Whether it’s a clean label or knowing where their food comes from, experts share how c-stores can meet the needs of consumers looking for healthful options.


MeritDirect Elizabeth Jackson

Subscriber Services/Single-Copy Purchases (978) 671-0449 EnsembleIQ@e-circ.net Vice President, Production (877) 687-7321


Shelly Patton spatton@ensembleiq.com

List Rental (847) 492-1350 ext.318

Art Director (224) 632-8245

Derek Estey destey@ensembleiq.com Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com Ed Ward eward@ensembleiq.com Michael Escobedo mescobedo@ensembleiq.com

CORPORATE OFFICERS Executive Chairman Alan Glass Chief Executive Officer David Shanker Chief Financial Officer Dan McCarthy Chief Digital Officer Joel Hughes Chief Innovation Officer Tanner Van Dusen Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several


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

Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Copyright © 2018 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 Chicago, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Convenience Store News, P.O. Box 1842, Lowell, MA 01853.

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


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Six Highlights From Chevron’s 2018 Retail Convention

Philip Morris International Unveils Next-Gen iQOS

The company’s latest heat-not-burn products, iQOS 3 and iQOS 3 MULTI, made their official debut at a launch event in Tokyo, the largest market for heat-not-burn tobacco products. According to PMI, IQOS 3 and IQOS 3 MULTI integrate extensive consumer insights and feedback to improve the design and user experience, while maintaining signature taste, sensory attributes and ritual — all underpinned by strong scientific substantiation.


Casey’s General Stores Acquires Tri-Par Oil Co.


Next Up for 7-Eleven: Innovative New Products


United Pacific Acquires 39 C-stores in California

The Midwest convenience store retailer acquired Saukville, Wis.based Tri-Par Oil Co., bringing seven Qwik Stop locations into its portfolio. The Qwik Stop stores are in Saukville, Newburg, Cedarburg, Random Lake, Slinger, West Bend and Hustisford, Wis.

Several hundred emerging companies answered 7-Eleven Inc.’s call to see new and innovative products that can better serve the world’s largest convenience store retailer’s changing customer base. Of those hundreds, 70 were chosen to participate in the retailer’s first Next Up event held in October, designed to give emerging brands an opportunity to engage with the retailer.

Long Beach, Calif.-based United Pacific acquired 39 convenience store and gas station sites in its home state from Ventura, Calif.-based Macland Investments. The deal also included seven car washes and five quick-service restaurants.


The Top 10 Cool New Products From the 2018 NACS Show

Attendees of the 2018 NACS Show selected 10 new products as the best of the best out of more than 300 products featured in the Cool New Products Preview Room. Based on visitor scans, the top new product was Hussmann Corp.’s Pastry Case with Warmer.

EXPERT VIEWPOINT: We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know There is a saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know” and in the case of financing growth opportunities, that is true for the owners of many midsized and small, privately held petroleum distributors that have not been active in the mergers and acquisitions marketplace or added new-to-industry sites to their network for a number of years, according to John C. Flippen Jr. and John Sartory, managing directors of Petroleum Capital and Real Estate LLC. Before any operator decides to launch any new or major growth initiative, there are several key financing issues the senior management team (CEO, chief financial officer, controller, etc.) may want to consider.

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

Chevron intended to give its marketers and retailers a gathering that was worth the wait. With the theme of “Our Journey,” the company held its 2018 Retail Convention in Phoenix in early October, marking its first national meeting since 2009. In addition to presentations from its executive leadership team, the event featured a Marketplace that showcased “all things Chevron” — including stations devoted to Techron, credit cards and new technological innovations. The teams from Chevron’s ExtraMile and Fuel Your School divisions were also on hand. For more exclusive stories, visit the Special Features section of www.csnews.com.


Swisher Sweets Limited-Edition Coco Blue Swisher Sweets Coco Blue cigarillos feature the flavors of tangy blueberry and creamy coconut. Available for a limited time while supplies last, Swisher Sweets Coco Blue come in a resealable twocount pouch with the “Sealed Fresh” guarantee. The product is offered in “2 for 99¢”, “Save on 2” and “2 for $1.49” price options. Swisher International Inc. Jacksonville, Fla. (800) 874-9720 www.swisher.com





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Speedway Expanding HQ to Support Andeavor Acquisition Marathon Petroleum’s retail division is also planning up to 300 new hires to facilitate growth is embarking on a major headquarters expansion as its retail network grows. The company is building a new 140,000-square-foot building between its two existing buildings that will create an enclosed campus setting.


This project, one of two that Speedway was exploring, will cost approximately $48 million and create as many as 300 jobs over the next four years. The new building will also facilitate the consolidation of remote employees back to Speedway’s Enon campus. “It is a very exciting time to work for Speedway as we continue an aggressive growth strategy,” said President Tony Kenney. “With that growth comes the need for more space. We are fortunate to be able to expand our office complex within our existing footprint. Speedway is now a coast-to-coast convenience store company, and we are pleased that we are able to keep our headquarters right here in Enon, where we have been for more than 27 years. “As with many projects of this scope, we have received considerable support from various state and local agencies. These partnerships allow us to continue to invest in the Clark County area and further strengthen our ties to the community,” Kenney added. The retailer requested a 100-percent tax abatement for 15 years to facilitate the project.

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

The Board of Clark County Commissioners approved the request on Oct. 24, according to a local news report. This abatement will cover site work, new construction and renovations, equipment and more. The other proposal Speedway was exploring involved a multi-site plan that would provide “ample access to talent and proximity to its stores across the country,” the company said. That proposal could have included two out-ofstate sites. The headquarters expansion project is scheduled to be completed in 2020. This move follows Speedway parent company Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s (MPC) closing of its $23.3-billion merger with San Antonio-based Andeavor. Speedway plans to use the roughly 300 new hires to support its growth of 1,100 new convenience stores across 15 states. In October, MPC began the process of converting the Andeavor company-owned and -operated SuperAmerica convenience stores to the Speedway brand. Since the completion of the transaction on Oct. 1, roughly 90 sites in the St. Paul and Minneapolis markets have been converted, and the company expects to complete approximately 200 sites by the end of 2018. Speedway LLC is the retail arm of Findlay, Ohio-based MPC. It owns and operates approximately 4,000 retail convenience stores across the United States. Speedway currently has more than 40,000 employees across the U.S., with approximately 1,200 located in Enon, Springfield and Vandalia, Ohio.





In a recent survey, 86 percent of respondents said convenience stores provide good first jobs for those looking to enter the workforce, and 59 percent believe c-stores offer employees opportunities for advancement. — NACS, The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing

U.S. consumers will average 1,410 eating occasions per capita in 2018 compared to 1,453 occasions per capita in 2009. — The NPD Group, Eating Patterns in America

An increase in online shopping options will push online grocery sales to more than quadruple between 2018 and 2023. — Packaged Facts, Online Grocery Shopping in the U.S., 2nd Edition

More Convenience Store Chains Enter Cashierless Space Frictionless checkout will be offered at 7-Eleven, Enmarket and Parker’s stores MOVE OVER AMAZON GO. More convenience store retailers are implementing frictionless checkout at their stores. 7-Eleven Inc., Enmarket and Parker’s are the latest chains to join the movement.

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven is piloting mobile self-checkout at 14 convenience stores in the Dallas area. The Scan & Pay platform allows customers to skip the checkout line and pay for items using the 7-Eleven app. The frictionless shopping experience is integrated into the 7Rewards loyalty program, allowing customers to automatically earn 7Rewards points upon purchase, redeem points to buy applicable products, and receive all in-store promotions. According to the retailer, 7-Eleven is the first convenience store chain to develop proprietary technology for a full frictionless payment experience. The company plans to expand the service to additional cities in 2019. 7-Eleven first tested mobile self-checkout at its Store Support Center, where employees tried the feature prior to the multi-store launch. “Our customers are on the go, looking for faster, more convenient ways to shop more than ever before. 7-Eleven continues to redefine convenience by providing frictionless experiences for our customers with Scan & Pay. Our customers can now use their smartphone to skip the line, every time,” said Gurmeet Singh, chief digital officer and chief information officer at 7-Eleven. Enmarket is jumping into the mobile self-checkout arena as well. In early 2019, the Savannah, Ga.-based retailer will begin offering Skip Frictionless Checkout, a mobile payment option that lets customers

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purchase items using their phones, saving them a trip to the cash register. “Skip Frictionless Checkout helps customers bypass the checkout line and helps us enhance their experience by focusing more on merchandising and customer service,” said Enmarket President Brett Giesick. “It allows us to give back the most priceless of resources to customers — their time.” Another Savannah-based c-store retailer, Parker’s, is preparing to roll out self-checkout across its footprint of 54 stores in Georgia and South Carolina. Developed in conjunction with NCR, the new technology speeds up transaction time and frees up cashiers to serve as in-store concierges, enabling them to focus on the total customer experience, according to the retailer. “Our goal is always to deliver the ultimate in-store experience for our loyal customers,” said Parker’s President and CEO Greg Parker. “This is an important step forward in our overall technology strategy at Parker’s and in meeting the changing needs of consumers.” Parker’s debuted its new self-checkout technology at its high-volume store at 10 Godley Station Blvd. in Pooler, Ga. The customer feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive,” according to Parker’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Bush, who spearheaded the development and implementation. Other convenience store chains already offering frictionless checkout include Anderson, Ind.-based Ricker’s and Oklahoma’s Jiffy Trip.


Eye on Growth

Speedway LLC closed on its acquisition of 78 Express Mart convenience stores in New York. The former Petr-All Petroleum Consulting Corp. assets are primarily located in the Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo markets. Sunoco LP bought BRENCO Marketing Corp. for roughly $24 million plus working capital. The business distributes approximately 95 million gallons of fuel annually across a network of about 160 dealer- and commission agent-operated locations.

The transaction also included 100 commercial accounts in central and east Texas.


ExtraMile Convenience Stores LLC, a joint venture between Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Jacksons Food Stores Inc., opened its 800th convenience store. The site is operated by G&M Oil Co. LLC, one of ExtraMile’s largest franchisees. Hallum Inc. exited the convenience channel after 46 years in the industry with the sale of its retail assets to Jackson Energy. The deal included the Hallum Food Stores banner and fuel supply agreements. Motiva Enterprises LLC and Midtex Oil LP formed Juniper Ventures of Texas LLC. The new joint venture is acquiring from Tarpley Inc. company-operated retail assets strategically located in the growth corridors in and around San Antonio, as well as wholesale supply agreements.




1-800-295-5510 16 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m


Construction is currently underway at 27 Murphy USA locations, including 15 raze-and-rebuild sites that will reopen as 1,200-squarefoot stores. By the end of 2018, Murphy USA expects to reach or be near 1,474 stores. Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group Inc. are planning to build a large-scale renewable diesel plant on the West Coast. The companies expect to make a final investment decision in 2019.




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Retailer Tidbits

Fikes Wholesale Inc. is selling 22 properties, which comprise 19 convenience stores with gas and three commercial properties. The sites are in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

acquisition of 78 New York c-stores. The FTC ruled that the deal would harm competition for gasoline and diesel in five local markets.

Sixteen of the properties are currently operating, while six are closed.

QuickChek Corp. will exit the pharmacy business as the chain shifts its focus to its core “fresh convenience” operations. Upon closing the pharmacies in nine stores, the retailer will remodel the sites to fit with its new concept market stores.

Cumberland Farms is the latest retailer to join Prime the Pump. The company will begin offering E15 fuel yearround at more than 120 stores in the Northeast.

Wawa Inc. launched a catering service to bring its food and beverages to private events. The service is currently limited to Philadelphia’s Center City and the immediate surrounding neighborhoods, but there are plans to expand.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. will divest five locations to satisfy conditions set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in order for its subsidiary Speedway LLC to complete the

TravelCenters of America LLC is seeking to renegotiate its rental agreement with Hospitality Properties Trust, the retailer’s largest shareholder. The move comes as TravelCenters aims to improve its leverage ratio.

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Where leaders collaborate to meet the challenges of the evolving retail landscape and honor the best

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In the Public Eye Getty Realty Corp., Jericho, N.Y. Getty Realty acquired seven properties in the third quarter of 2018 for $19.4 million, bringing its total for the year so far to 39 locations for $75 million. The real estate investment trust also completed its sixth redevelopment project this year during the quarter. Getty’s total Q3 revenues and revenues from rental property, which excludes tenant expense reimbursement and interest income, grew 18 percent to $34.7 million and 19 percent to $29.6 million, respectively. Marathon Petroleum Corp., Findlay, Ohio For its third quarter, Marathon Petroleum reported income from its Speedway LLC operations of $161 million, compared to $208 million during the same quarter in 2017. Q3 gasoline and distillate margins were adversely impacted by the overall rise in crude oil prices. Speedway’s same-store merchandise sales — with the exception of tobacco — increased by 4.9 percent during the quarter, while same-store gasoline sales volume decreased by 1.2 percent year over year. Overall, Marathon Petroleum reported third-quarter earnings of $737 million, compared to $903 million in the third quarter of 2017.

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Murphy USA, El Dorado, Ark. Murphy USA continued to grow its store count during Q3 2018, opening seven new convenience stores and three raze-and-rebuild sites. Net income declined to $45 million during the quarter compared to $67.9 million during the same period last year. Company officials cited lower all-in fuel margins as the primary factor, partially offset by higher merchandise contribution and a lower effective income tax rate. Merchandise sales increased to $104.5 million during the quarter from $97.7 million a year ago. TravelCenters of America LLC, Westlake, Ohio TravelCenters of America saw an uptick in the use of its services during its third quarter. Work orders for its OnSITE truck service program grew by 75 percent vs. the same period last year. In addition, work orders in its RoadSquad call center business increased by 4.6 percent. The company also sold 10.3 percent more tire units in Q3 than a year ago. TravelCenters reported fuel revenues increased by $264.5 million compared to the same period last year, and nonfuel revenues increased by $17.4 million.






1. Jimmy Dean 2. Gas Monkey Stuffed Hash Browns Energy Tropical Tyson Foods is launching Jimmy Dean Stuffed Hash Browns in the convenience channel for retailers looking to meet the needs of consumers craving an on-the-go breakfast. Jimmy Dean Stuffed Hash Browns feature a realpotato hash brown stuffed with savory breakfast ingredients. Varieties include Bacon & Veggies, Meat Lovers, and Sausage & Cheese. The product can be promoted as a breakfast or snack offering, according to the company.

Gas Monkey Energy Tropical is the energy drink brand’s first new flavor since its initial launch. The Tropical variety features notes of mango, passionfruit, pineapple, lemon and honey. The new flavor maintains Gas Monkey’s commitment to healthier ingredients and includes no high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives, according to the maker. Gas Monkey Energy Tropical joins the brand’s existing Regular and Light varieties.

Tyson Convenience Springdale, Ark. (800) 233-6332

Gas Monkey Energy Dallas gasmonkeyenergy.com



3. Brewhouse Legends Nut Snack Mixes Brewhouse Legends Nut Snack Mixes were inspired by the innovation of craft brewers who develop flavors without precedent. Mixologists designed the pub-inspired nut snack mixes to complement one’s individual style. Fiveounce bags are available in three varieties: Michelada, Hops and Pepper, and Hoppin’ Chili. Brewhouse Legends El Paso, Texas brewhouselegends.com


4. LED Price Watcher Gas Signs Watchfire Signs introduced a series of all-white LED Price Watcher gas signs at the 2018 NACS Show. The signs are designed to provide exceptional clarity and readability in sunny conditions. They are available in 8-, 12-, 18- and 24-inch character sizes. A built-in ventilation system boosts energy efficiency and lengthens LED life. All Price Watcher signs can be changed safely, day or night, according to the company. Optional point-ofsale capability lets operators instantly sync signs with in-store pricing. Watchfire Signs Danville, Ill. watchfiresigns.com

5. Impact! Tobacco Displays ImageWorks Display & Marketing Group is introducing a new series of tobacco displays that offer the added versatility of one-foot shelving vertically adjustable in 1/2-inch increments. Telescoping uprights allow for vertical frame adjustability. Called Impact!, these displays feature an innovative frame design that ensures continuous alignment of shelving and signage without any spaces or gaps. This continuous frame design simplifies category resets; and header signage and other internal components can be moved freely across the set, according to the company. ImageWorks’ current lineup of classic metal and wood tobacco displays will continue to be available, while Impact! provides another alternative built for the future. ImageWorks Display & Marketing Group Winston-Salem, N.C. (800) 704-3660 imageworksdisplay.com

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9 6 7


6. BOS Organic Rooibos Iced Tea

7. Daelmans Chocolate 9. Van Holten’s Mini Stroopwafels Pickle Cutz

BOS, a South African brand of iced tea, offers a range of refreshing and lively ready-to-drink organic iced teas that are crafted exclusively with rooibos. The “playful” line of 12-ounce slimline cans have a suggested retail price of $1.99 each. Available varieties include Lemon, Peach, Berry, Green Roobios & Yuzu, and Lime & Ginger.

Daelmans Stroopwafels debuted Chocolate Mini Stroopwafels at the 2018 NACS Show. Although they can be enjoyed straight out of the package, all Daelmans Stroopwafels evolve into a sweet and melty treat when placed atop a hot cup for about one minute. The Chocolate Mini Stroopwafels contain no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or trans-fat. Daelmans Stroopwafels are now available in three sizes: jumbo, large and mini.

BOS Brands Solana Beach, Calif. bosbrands.com/en-us

The Brand Passport New York (212) 315-2343 service@stroopwafelsbydaelmans.com daelmansstroopwafels.com

Van Holten’s introduces a fresh sliced, refrigerated pickle in a single-serve pouch to its product line. The graband-go snack features halfinch thick, crinkle-cut pickle slices in both dill and spicy varieties. Pickle Cutz are fresh packed and feature no additional brine. The product is gluten free, fat free, low calorie and keto friendly. Pickle Cutz will soon be available through DOT and other distributors throughout the United States. Van Holten’s Waterloo, Wis. (920) 478-2144 vanholtenpickles.com

9. ZipLine Private Label Debit & Rewards Program ZipLine, a provider of payment-powered programs to the retail industry, is launching the first combined private label debit and rewards program. The new platform enables merchants to more effectively engage consumers, inspiring loyalty and sales growth, the company stated. With a flat per-transaction fee and no interchange or discount fees, retailers can redirect payment fee savings into funding consumer engagement efforts, such as incentives and rewards. ZipLine business intelligence and analytics mechanisms help distill data to identify consumer preferences in order to serve up relevant offers and experiences. ZipLine Portland, Maine (954) 449-9541 sales@zipline.biz zipline.biz

10. Gas Pos SaaS Solution Billed as the fuel pump industry’s first software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, Gas Pos includes an EMV-compliant point-of-sale system that provides advanced payment security for convenience stores, gas stations, travel plazas and truck stops, protecting owners and consumers alike. Advanced payment security includes EMV, PCI and point-to-point encryption to keep merchants protected from fraud, hacking and fines. This integrated solution carries no capital expense investment costs; an affordable subscription model replaces costly legacy package purchases, the company noted. In addition, Gas Pos provides a cutting-edge inventory system to make running a fuel business easier. The platform removes the need for a back office to control the price book, with features such as inventory tracking, custom price groups and comprehensive reporting. Gas Pos Palo Alto, Calif. gaspos.co

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


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7 Approaches to Make Better Decisions for Your C-store You should always be striving to improve your approach for better business results THE RETAIL INDUSTRY IS CHANGING every day, and so is the convenience channel — new competitors, new shopper expectations, new data and technology, online shopping and new shoppers.

Single-store owners and small operators have the challenge of remaining relevant in this more competitive landscape, and making better, fact-based decisions for their stores to compete in this more complex environment. By Sue Nicholls, Founder & President, Category Management Knowledge Group

In any business, you need strategies, processes and best practices to create the foundation for your business. Here are seven approaches for you to become more strategic at your c-store using some components of category management to help you out:


Who You Are & What You’re Trying to Do Your overall strategy should help to guide you and your staff on what you’re trying to accomplish for your store. Consider, for example, the type of store you own or manage. Smaller stores usually have higher reliance on

fuel and less on foodservice. Larger stores have more offerings. Your store type — whether you are a neighborhood store, commuter store or interstate store — also has a significant effect on store layout, target consumer, and the types of products and services you offer.


Your Objectives & How You’ll Achieve Them What are your objectives and how are you going to reach them? Consider whether you will achieve your objectives through: • Service — including convenience, store location, access to the store, parking and customer service. What does service stand for in your store? Service needs to tie in with the operations side of your business, including a great shopping experience for your shoppers, while providing a great work environment for your staff. • Product Assortment — which relates to the categories you sell in your store, as well as the items that you carry within each of those categories. • Merchandising — or shelving, which defines strategies related to the way your store is laid out, including aisle layouts, category adjacencies and category layouts. You should have a merchandising plan that helps your staff understand how to stock the store and why it is important. By emphasizing the importance of these activities and having processes and standards in place, you will arm your staff with the details necessary to ensure they make the best decisions for your store. • Pricing — including what types of strategies you use for both regular prices and sale prices. Pricing maximizes value to your shoppers and can improve shopper satisfaction. The difference of a few cents in price can have a significant impact on both sales and profit, and ultimately how much cash you are putting in the bank. You should have processes in place to verify price accuracy on the shelf, and teach your employees how to spot pricing discrepancies and what to do about it.

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

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business — not just intuitively, where we tend to rely on what we think vs. what we know. For your most important categories, they should have their own strategies, goals and tactics: • Define Your Most Important Categories: As part of your store strategy, you need to define your categories and then segment them based on what is known about the target shopper. For example, what’s included in cold beverages, snacks or confection? How do you separate between instant consumption and takeaway? How do you properly shelve the category? You may be able to get some perspective on the best approach by talking to your dealer and/or the salespeople that call on your store.

• Promotion — including the importance of promotions to your shoppers, and the types of promotions you run in your store. Promotions are a great way to drive traffic and improve the value perception for your target shopper.


Your Target Shopper Your shopper is the one who spends money in your store and drives your business up or down. But sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to them, or neglect to think about who our target shopper is. You shouldn’t target “everyone” because you will have a hard time completely satisfying each of the different shopper’s needs. You should target the shopper groups that are most loyal and the heaviest buyers in your store. Have a well-articulated description of who your most important shopper is. By knowing this and sharing it with your staff, you will be able to make better decisions about in-store merchandising, product assortment, pricing and promotion to better meet their needs. Once your target shopper is defined, it’s easier to define your targeted competition, based on who has the same target shopper as you. Ultimately, you need to satisfy your target shopper’s needs better than your competitors. And you will be able to identify how to do this by continually improving your understanding of your target shopper and testing out the best ways to meet their needs through exemplary customer service and improved value perception.


Your Category Strategies To make the best decisions for your store, you need to know and understand your

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• Assign Category Roles & Strategies: Not all categories play as important of a role for your store. Your biggest categories should have the biggest emphasis and focus for you. There are five distinct category roles in the convenience channel: destination driver, staple, niche, occasional/seasonal and fill-in. Category roles provide guidance for how you treat the different categories in your store. Once you understand the roles in detail, you should do the actual work of assigning roles to your categories. For example, categories that are assigned the “destination driver” role are your most important categories in terms of sales and driving shoppers to your store. Examples of destination driver categories may be tobacco, beer, cold beverages, foodservice and fuel. You should allocate a high percentage of time and resources against these categories.


Knowing & Understanding Your Income Statement Every choice you make in your store — how much product to buy, what to keep as inventory in your back room, what to price, promote, how to shelve your products and what products to carry — has a direct influence on your financial income statement. You will be much more strategic in your overall store management by better understanding the ways to influence margin: • By increasing sales through changes in your key drivers of volume and profit (based on the strategies you have in place for pricing and promotion, based on knowing your target shopper and competition); • By decreasing your cost of goods sold through better pricing and promotional strategies and a focus on inventory management (the product that is sitting in your store and not selling); and/or • By decreasing operating expenses through improved efficiencies, more knowledgeable and motivated employees, and better understanding of the business. Thinking about your business this way will help you make better choices that will improve your net profit. And who doesn’t want that? Also, by giving your employees the tools to help them think more about what you’re trying to accomplish from a financial perspective, they will be armed with better decision-making skills as well.

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Analyzing & Understanding Your Most Important Categories There are a handful of categories in your store that typically represent about 80 percent of your overall sales and profit. You need to know these categories and have strategies in place for them (as I mentioned in point No. 4). Then, you need to analyze and develop category plans for each of these key categories based on the data you have available.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. You should always be striving to improve your approach for better business results. This will help you to survive and thrive in this competitive retail landscape. Here are some ways you can do this: • Start by understanding the size of the category relative to store sales. What percentage of total store sales do your key categories represent? Look at how they are growing vs. a year ago and which segments and brands are driving the growth. • Ask your suppliers/distributors how the category is performing in the total convenience channel and compare this to your results. Identify the biggest areas of opportunity. Once you have a strong understanding of your category performance, you need to analyze each of your tactics in more detail.


Getting Your Tactics Right I mentioned in point No. 2 the importance of having overall store strategies for service, assortment, merchandising, pricing and promotion. You need to make sure that for your most important categories, and based on your target shopper, you get your tactics right to create the best value proposition for your shoppers. This includes: • Efficient Assortment: Deciding what items you carry for your category should include an analysis of your existing items and comparing them to the top items carried in the market. You should have a fact-based decision-making process for determining the right items to carry (and eval-

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

uating new items) that are best for your target shopper. This will ultimately increase sales and profit and reduce expensive and unproductive inventory in your store. • Merchandising/Space Management: You should have easy-to-implement planograms provided by your suppliers that align to your overall category strategies and your target shopper. Make sure you understand the key measures associated with the shelf (share of shelf, turns, etc.) and educate your employees on the proper setup of your category planograms (particularly those top categories most important to your business). • Pricing: Retail price has a significant impact on sales and profit for your categories, and ultimately for your store. Keep an eye on your key value item pricing vs. your competition by determining the highest profile items for a category and visiting competitors a few times per year. Establish gross margin objectives for your categories with acceptable prices for your target shopper. Generate enough margin for you to be profitable. Realize that it’s not the gross margin percentage that you take to the bank, it’s the dollars. • Promotions: Your promotions, including reduced prices, drive incremental sales (sales that wouldn’t have happened without you running the promotion). For major upcoming promotions in your store, review historical promotions to help anticipate how much sales the promotion will generate, and to determine the right price point for the promotion. You also need to understand the seasonality of your most important categories — complete additional analysis to drive incremental sales when specific categories are “in season.” So, where are your biggest areas of opportunity? For some, it may simply be to put “pen to paper” and articulate what you are trying to accomplish (vs. only keeping it in your head), which is sometimes more difficult than it sounds. For others, it may be an emphasis on analyzing your sales data to better understand your most important categories and where your opportunities for improvement are. Or perhaps it’s to start educating your employees on why you want them to do things a certain way so that they have the skills to make better decisions on their own that reflect your strategies and your target shopper. The worst thing you can do is nothing. You should always be striving to improve your approach for better business results. This will help you to survive and thrive in this competitive retail landscape. CSN Sue Nicholls is founder and president of Category Management Knowledge Group (CMKG), based in Calgary, Canada. She is a speaker and consultant, working with business partners to bring category management training solutions to different areas of retailing like the convenience channel. Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.




Retail Executive of the Year

JAY RICKER Retail Hall of Famer

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LEGACY Hall of Famer Jay Ricker took a tank wagon oil business and turned it into a leading convenience store chain By Angela Hanson


launched Ricker Oil Co. Inc. in 1979, they planted the seed for what would eventually become a successful convenience store chain, known for its experimentation and advocacy for the industry as a whole. Between the time he graduated college and started his own business, however, Ricker planned to leave Indiana behind for good. “I thought it was a boring state,” this year’s retailer inductee into the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame said with a laugh. A native of the Hoosier State, Ricker lived in a region where generations of his family had lived, but none worked for large businesses. He set his sights on working for a large corporation that could send him to interesting places, and eventually accepted a role with Shell. In a 10-day period, Ricker graduated, got married, went on his honeymoon and moved to Iowa, where he began his career in the fuel industry shortly before the first fuel shortage of the 1970s. For the next seven years, he held various sales roles with Shell in several regions of the United States, including back in Indiana, before deciding to return to his home state to be near family and go into business for himself. “The only thing I really knew at that point was the oil business,” he said.

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When Ricker Oil Co. began operations, it was a small jobber. Nancy ran the office and Jay drove the tank wagon, with no convenience stores to be found. Nearly 40 years later, the company has acquired five oil companies and opened 56 Ricker’s c-stores, while Ricker has made a name for himself as a well-regarded leader in the industry.

The Networker Today, Ricker is the chairman of Ricker Oil, while his son Quinn serves as president and CEO. He is also chairman of the Fuels Institute, a nonprofit researchoriented think tank that evaluates market issues related to vehicles and fuels. In the past, he has chaired NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, the BP Marketers Association, and the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Outside of the convenience and fuel industry, he sits on the boards of directors for the Conner Prairie Living History Museum and the Community Hospital Anderson. He previously chaired both of these Indianabased organizations. Combined with his experience as the founder of his own company, Ricker has amassed an impressive set of leadership credentials. Still, he credits much of what he knows to his habit of spending time with and listening to fellow retailers.

Jay Ricker and his wife Nancy founded Ricker Oil Co. in 1979.


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Convenience Store News



During his acceptance speech, Ricker thanked his 90-year-old mother Barbara for helping him establish his business by stepping up with a critical financial investment.

Anderson, Ind., to start the business was marred by illness, the wrong size U-Haul truck and a frightened cat that spent the trip clinging to Ricker. Other early challenges included the bank’s refusal to issue a loan to a new business despite the Rickers having purchased an existing jobbership, and getting stuck with $20,000 in bad checks from a dealer they serviced that began kiting checks. “We didn’t have any extra cash when we started this business,” Ricker recalled. With perseverance and support from family, which Jay and Nancy resolved to pay forward to their own children if they wanted to strike out in business with a sound plan, Ricker Oil began to grow. It acquired four smaller businesses, two of which owned a couple of small stores, and in 1989, it extensively remodeled an old service station into a c-store. Around this time, Ricker and his general manager discussed the news that farm bureau co-ops had begun buying into the tank wagon business. The manager suggested thinking about getting into that themselves. “I don’t think there’s any thinking. We need to do it,” Ricker recalls saying.

“Our industry is so, so sharing,” he said. During his early days with NACS, as he went from committee member to board member, he was able to exchange ideas and information with his peers, which prompted Ricker to institute certain initiatives at his stores. He pointed to Sheetz Inc. and Kwik Trip Inc. as examples of successful family-owned convenience store chains whose experiences were particularly helpful to him. While some of those initiatives were strategic moves — such as the installation of free ATMs — others were smaller changes that had surprisingly noticeable effects. For instance, Ricker’s was already in the habit of recognizing employees of the month, but when it began taking them to lunch as part of the honor, it made a major difference to those employees and helped the company cultivate a strong team. “It turned out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done,” Ricker said. He remains a proponent of involvement with NACS and its study groups. “That’s brought us all kinds of best practices, and we share ours, too,” he explained. His willingness to learn from others and make connections helped him in the early years of his company, when success was anything but guaranteed despite the skills he had gained during his time with Shell. The move to

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

The company invested in itself, building four stores in one year — which he called “crazy” for a business that size — and settled into a pattern of expanding by two to three stores each year. Two major growth milestones occurred when Ricker’s acquired nine Amoco stores in the Fort Wayne, Ind., market in 2000, and when it purchased BP’s Indianapolis assets in 2008. “We had bad things happen,” Ricker acknowledged, recalling when they invested in a business unrelated to the convenience industry. But even that financial loss served as a useful lesson. “Stay in your core business or something that’s directly related to it,” he said. “We had our adversities, but also lots of successes.” As he’s progressed throughout his career, Ricker has passed the lessons he’s learned on to his children, including son Quinn, who joined the company as a second-generation executive. “I am so proud of my father. He had the guts, the strength to leave a great job at Shell and strike out on his own,” said Quinn. “He did this with two young kids and a wife. He took the risk and it paid off. He built something really special.” Along the way, Quinn said his father had a talent for connecting with other people in the industry, learning from them, giving back, and making the industry and his company better. “I am so proud of everything he has accomplished. I am lucky to be his son. To be guided and taught under this type of leadership,” he said.

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Change Is in the Air Over the last four decades, Ricker has seen — and contributed to — a tremendous amount of change in the convenience channel; something he expects to continue. He points to technology and foodservice as undergoing the biggest shifts during his career. “Technology has changed so much,” he said, noting that

Leaving an Impact Jay Ricker’s industry peers reflect on his leadership and industry influence “I am truly honored to call Jay Ricker a dear friend. Our introduction was through our retail study group, in which Jay and I have spent the past 13 years sharing in the successes and challenges of business and life. For me personally, Jay has been more than a friend, he has been a mentor. I have watched Jay work hard to grow his business, while at the same time dedicating himself to serve this industry in various roles, but ultimately as chairman of NACS. Thank you Jay for being a friend, mentor, and all you have done to help strengthen our industry.” — Kevin Smartt, President & CEO, Kwik Chek Food Stores

“Jay and Nancy Ricker are a genuine self-made duo. They built their empire from a single truck. Jay is the definition of a gentleman. He handles all aspects of life in such a gentle manner. He’s heavily involved with his community and often seen ‘clowning around’ at charitable events. Although Jay may become less involved with the future of our industry, he’s destined to better the political future of the state of Indiana. And believe you me, Indiana will be the fortunate beneficiary of the honorable Jay Ricker.” — Tom Waddle, President & CEO, Fastrac Markets

“I met Jay 30 years ago and have been his primary center-of-the-store wholesale partner for seven years. I’ve always admired how Jay and Nancy built their business. Starting as an oil jobber without stores, then organically growing with convenience stores over the years as a family business similar to the Wake family at Eby-Brown. Jay has always been a true advocate of our industry and so dedicated in serving at all levels, from our state-level petroleum marketers [association] to NACS as a past chairman. From the day I met Jay, he has always been approachable and a good listener of everyone’s concerns. I am so pleased to see him being honored with induction to the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. Well-deserved Jay!” — Brent Shay, Vice President of Sales, Eby-Brown Co. LLC

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

while they didn’t have computers when he was a child, “I couldn’t live without a computer today.” The shift to nearly instant communication provides the opportunity for major gains in efficiency compared to when he was driving the tank wagon on the outer edges of the company’s territory. There was always the possibility he would return to the office only to receive a message that he’d been needed just past his previous location. While upcoming advances in technology may not reach the level of difference between land lines and cell phones, Ricker advises retailers to constantly be mindful of their business practices and products, and how they are likely to change in the next five years. “It’s a very entrepreneurial industry, and I know people will succeed, but you really have to be on top of things,” he said. The world of convenience foodservice is also dramatically changing, going from having a roller grill, popcorn and “maybe nacho chips, if you were really forward-thinking,” to now offering sophisticated, in-depth fresh food programs. “The investments you have to put in the stores … I remember when $1 million was a lot,” he said. “It’s become a competitive, expensive business.” To maximize experimentation and opportunities and minimize cost and mistakes, Ricker’s took a unique approach to foodservice. The chain hit the road with an ¡AhhBurritos! food truck, testing a program that offered high-quality ingredients, reasonably priced without being a giveaway. After some refining, Ricker’s rolled out the program in-store to considerable success, even replacing some national quick-service concepts that were in place. “Food is not a roller grill, in my mind,” Ricker said. “Food is fresh-prepared, good ingredients of any kind.” The evolution of Ricker’s in-store foodservice program led it to challenge Indiana’s law regarding the sale of cold beer. Normally prohibited at convenience stores, Ricker’s received alcohol sales permits typically granted to restaurants, kicking

Tom Joyce of Hershey celebrated with the newest Hall of Famer.

HIGH-FIVES ALL AROUND. Congratulations to Jay Ricker


Building relationships. Building growth.


off what Ricker once called “a real firestorm.” The state liquor lobby objected and, in 2017, lawmakers passed legislation that would exclude Ricker’s from renewing those permits. However, the conflict brought considerable attention to the state’s ban on cold beer sales, which does not exist in any other state. The battle is ongoing. Ricker is confident it will lead to change — one day. “We live in a state with arcane rules and regulations,” he said. “People who have that monopoly fight tooth and toenail ... [but] I think we’ll get it changed eventually.”

A Look Into the Future

Ricker poses with supplier Hall of Fame inductee Rick Brindle (left) and Retailer Executive

Looking back at the start of his business, of the Year Joe Sheetz. Ricker says he never would have expected that he would be able to build it up into what it is today. think you’re going to get left behind,” he said. “Absolutely not,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be this big, by any means.” Another unexpected development is the very recent decision to sell the business to Giant Eagle. In September, the companies announced that the Pittsburgh-based retailer would buy all 56 Ricker’s stores, retaining all 850 employees. “I really wasn’t looking to sell,” Ricker said. With Quinn already in the role of president and CEO, and other “very competent” people in the next generation to run the family-owned business, it was a look at the future of the industry as a whole that opened the Hall of Famer’s mind to the possibility of selling. “It made sense to. If you don’t grow at a substantial rate, I

While he wants to travel and spend more time with his grandchildren, Ricker doesn’t envision a complete retirement. He expects to continue being involved in the industry, and is looking forward to seeing more of the coming changes. “I want to see what’s going to happen to fuels,” he said. His time with the Fuels Institute has allowed him to be involved with more than just fuel and convenience retailers; he’s been exposed to people from academia and suppliers he wouldn’t normally interact with at Ricker’s. He predicts a fuels landscape that is different from what exists today, but not one that’s uniform across the country. “I think there’s going to be a cocktail of different fuels depending on where you are, depending on infrastructure,” he said. Building a successful business from the ground up is undoubtedly an impressive accomplishment, but Ricker points to something other than numbers as the achievement he is most proud of: the people who work for Ricker Oil. “We are big believers in promoting people within our organization,” he said. Early on, quite a few Ricker’s employees had only a high school diploma or GED, and many were the breadwinners for their household. By investing in people who were willing to work hard and show what they could do, the company has cultivated a group of longtime employees that includes many managers and district managers who started out as cashiers.

Ricker accepts his Hall of Fame trophy from Jack Stout of 7-Eleven Inc.

The path upward isn’t necessarily restricted to in-store roles, either. Ricker recalled how the person who now runs the company’s IT department never received his degree but took courses and educated himself based on the chain’s technical needs. “It makes me really proud to see people like that be very successful,” Ricker said. CSN

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

Convenience Store News Hall of Fame


we are inspired by your ability to

your business

RICK BRINDLE JAY RICKER Chairman Ricker Oil Co. Retailer Hall of Famer

VP of Industry Development Mondelez International Inc. Supplier Hall of Famer

JOSEPH S. SHEETZ President & CEO, Sheetz, Inc. Retailer Executive of the Year

Servicing: Philip Morris USA U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company John Middleton Nu Mark Nat Sherman

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LEADERSHIP Hall of Famer Rick Brindle’s 40-year career has seen him advance from food clerk to vice president By Danielle Romano IN RICK BRINDLE’S EXTENDED FAMILY,

it seems as though you pursue one of two career paths: you either join the law enforcement field or you go into the grocery business. In 1977, at the age of 17, Brindle chose the latter, becoming a food clerk at supermarket chain Safeway Stores. The job funded his college education at Frostburg State College in Frostburg, Md. — where he triple majored in general business, management and marketing — and ultimately became the foundation for his love of the convenience retailing industry.

During his second year of college, Safeway offered Brindle the opportunity to travel to Hamburg, Germany, where he would be responsible for training management and marketing for the chain’s German division. It was a six-month assignment that, unbeknownst to him at the time, would pay off bigtime after his graduation in 1982. “Not long after graduation, I married [my wife] Dee. During our honeymoon, I interviewed for a position with Procter & Gamble (P&G). The only reason P&G gave my resume a second glance was because of my Safeway and international experience,” recalled this year’s supplier inductee into the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. He got the job at P&G and in his 13 years with the company, he worked his way up from sales representative and unit sales manager to sales promotion and project manager before moving into roles supporting teams for big-box retailers, including district sales manager — Price Club/Costco Team and district sales manager — Walmart Team. From P&G, he joined Nabisco. The move from Procter & Gamble was a family decision. While Brindle enjoyed his position as district sales manager for the Walmart team, the relocation to Bentonville, Ark., where the retailer is headquartered, took the Brindle family even farther away from its extended family, prompting him and his wife to discuss the possibility of other job opportunities. One thing led to another, and Nabisco offered Brindle a position in Richmond, Va., just a short drive from their extended family in Maryland. So, Rick, Dee and their three children, Richard III, James and Caroline, made the move.

Rick Brindle celebrated his Hall of Fame induction with his wife Dee.

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


A Rick of All Trades With business development leadership assignments spanning the convenience, grocery, club, e-tailing and mass merchandiser classes of trade, Rick Brindle uses his diverse experience to contribute to various industry associations. His involvement has included, but is not limited to:

Brindle receives his Hall of Fame trophy from Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo.

• Food Marketing Institute (2012-present), including co-chairman of the Industry Collaboration Council (2017-present) • Grocery Manufacturers Association (2012-present), including chairman of Industry Development & Advisory Council (2016-present) • National Association of Chain Drug Stores (2012-2017), including Steering Committee vice chairman – Retailer Advisory Board (2017) • NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing (2013-present), including Supplier Board vice chairman (2017-present) • National Confectioners Association (2012-present), including the Board of Trustees (2012-present) • National Grocers Association (2001-2017), including one of only three manufacturers on the board of directors (2013-2017) • Retailer Owned Food Distributors Association (2013-present), including Executive Committee – Retailer Advisory Board (2013-2015) Brindle also has been honored across the multiple channels he serves. He was a 2017 inductee in the National Confectioners Association’s Candy Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the National Grocers Association Board of Directors Service Award and the Supervalu Vendor of the Year honor. He’s also earned a spot on Consumer Goods Technology’s Consumer Goods Industry’s Top 25 Visionaries ranking.

Throughout the following two decades, Brindle wore many hats for many different iterations of the company, which today is known as Mondelez International Inc. From 1996 to 2001, he held various directorial roles at Nabisco, which was acquired by Kraft Foods Inc. in 2001. At the newly formed company, he was promoted to vice president of e-sales and industry relations for North America. Brindle retained this title until 2012 when Kraft Foods changed its name to Mondelez and spun off the Kraft Foods Group, becoming a global biscuit, chocolate, gum and candy manufacturer. For the last six years, Brindle has served as Mondelez’s vice president, industry development for North America.

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“Over time, we have lived in many areas and I have been able to work in several retail verticals. I truly feel that all of my experiences have culminated into a solid fit for what the convenience retail segment is today and where it is going tomorrow,” he said. In his current role as Mondelez’s vice president, industry development for North America, he is responsible for representing Mondelez to the industry across all classes of trade within the U.S. He spends most of his time in the marketplace engaging with the supplier’s retailer, wholesaler and distributor customers and driving insights, strategies and solutions that benefit the retail industry as a whole. “I connect our solutions with marketplace opportunities, and marketplace solutions with our opportunities,” the Hall of Famer explained. “In addition to being a vocal advocate of our industry as an honorable industry — on Capitol Hill and elsewhere — I am very passionate about developing our future talent and uplifting the convenience retailing sector’s image in our communities.”

Front-Row Seat to Change Throughout a more than 40-year career, it is not surprising that one might encounter challenges, but Brindle views the leaps and bounds as a good thing. In fact, when things are running too smoothly and he doesn’t feel challenged, he admits that he gets bored. “I think that is why I have enjoyed industry development so much. It provides constant change and personal growth,” he said. “Industry development provides significant depth of understanding on emerging megatrends and strategic issues facing manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers across multiple fronts. It also provides incredible networking opportunities with customers in a neutral setting.”


CONGRATULATIONS to all of the inaugural members of

Future Leaders in Convenience on behalf of the proud founding and presenting sponsor, RAI Trade Marketing Services Company.


Brindle cites specific aspects of developing new business channels throughout his professional career at each organization as points of pride. At Safeway, it was contributing to its expansion in the Germany division. At P&G, it was being in the early stages of the club and mass channel development with his roles at Price Club, Costco and Walmart. And at Nabisco and Kraft, it was creating the role of vice president of global e-sales.

During his acceptance speech, Brindle said he “couldn’t have asked for a better group of people in the room.”

“It was great fun being on the forefront of e-commerce — and equally satisfying to see much of what we advocated and pursued now coming to fruition,” he said. As one of the industry’s more enduring veterans, Brindle has had a front-row seat to the evolving industry. Channel blurring is the biggest industry change he’s observed during his career. He recounts how when he entered the business, one would eat at a restaurant, buy food at a grocery store, get beer from a liquor store and fill up at a gas station. “Not so today,” he emphasized. The aggressive pursuit of diversity throughout the industry is another change he’s observed. While there is still a ways to go, the industry continues to make progress every day. This progress has poured over into the way convenience retailing is viewed today.

“Promises made, promises kept. This facilitates the trust required for deep strategic relationships.” “Working in convenience retail was once considered a job. Today, it is a viable career opportunity,” Brindle noted. “A diverse workplace has contributed greatly to this.” The top-of-mind disruptor for the industry, though, is e-commerce. Technological enhancements in digital, social and mobile have proven to be an enabler for convenience retailing, as voice recognition, and electric and autonomous vehicles start to come into the limelight, he said.

Blazing the Trail Over the years, Brindle has had visibility across all aspects of retail, which has given him clarity in terms of best practices, emerging trends and

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potential synergies. Still, every day can be a learning experience for even the most experienced veteran. “I really enjoy my job. I just want to be better at it,” he told Convenience Store News. When reflecting on his career path from food clerk to vice president, Brindle has some key insights on what it means to be a leader. Chief among them: listening for opportunity. The list also includes understanding what motivates individual team members; creating an active, collaborative culture that understands customer intimacy and focuses on continual improvement in everything you do; and lastly, you are only as good as your people and your boss. When asked what advice he would offer to the next generation of industry leaders, Brindle shared these five recommendations: • Culture eats strategy for breakfast. “This is a people business. Period.” • Be a lifelong student of the industry. “There is much to learn and the pace of change and ongoing innovation truly keeps it interesting.” • Deliver results with honor. “Promises made, promises kept. This facilitates the trust required for deep strategic relationships.” • Actively recruit mentors/advocates. “And actively become a mentor to many.” • Develop relationships throughout your journey. “Develop customer relationships that are so strong that no matter the business issue, both of you want each other to succeed.” CSN



The entire Mondelez International family would like to thank Rick for his many years of prime leadership and excellence— here’s to many more!

© Mondelēz International group

Take on Transparency Whether it’s a clean label or knowing where their food comes from, experts share how c-stores can meet the needs of consumers looking for healthful options By Tammy Mastroberte


often viewed as the place to grab a candy bar, chips or coffee, many companies in the industry are contributing to a change in this sentiment by offering healthier options, including produce, all-natural snacks and even organic items. Falling under this category are buzzwords like “clean label” and “transparency,” as more consumers demand ingredients they can recognize. However, many also want to understand where the food they purchase is coming from and the story behind it. Although it seems this is at the forefront today, the movement actually started a while back. “In 2015, the food industry started to respond to consumers’ demand — or lack of demand — for certain products, as the center-of-the-store products in grocery stores, including canned, boxed and processed foods, started to decline,” said Paul Metz, executive vice president of C+R Research based in Chicago. In the restaurant space, he said Panera led the way when it announced via YouTube commercials and full-page newspaper ads that it was changing its entire menu to “clean food.” While there is no official definition for “clean label,” research shows it to be items with relatively few ingredients and preservatives, and ingredients consumers can pronounce and recognize. All-natural, fresh and organic also fit under the definition. “Consumers much prefer to look at a label and see something they understand rather than a complex, scientific-sounding name that they don’t,” said Steve Hartman, account director for Ingredient Communications,

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based in the United Kingdom. Food manufacturers responded early on by initiating research and development for product innovation to reformulate food, replacing chemicals with ingredients that “sounded like things in nature,” Metz said, noting that the Institute of Food Technology even highlighted clean labeling as the lead issue at its 2016 annual event. By early 2017, consumer packaged goods companies and private label manufacturers had already implemented plans to move to clean label. “From a c-store standpoint, there are a lot of clean products to choose from like KIND bars and RXBAR in the snack bar category, which were at the forefront of clean labeling, and even popcorn like SmartPop!,” said Metz. “Because consumers know they can get these options in the grocery store, this is what they may be going into a c-store looking for when shopping.” La Crosse, Wis.-based convenience store chain Kwik Trip Inc. started putting a larger focus on healthier options in 2014 when it joined the Partnership for a Healthier America and began offering fresh fruits and vegetables, lowfat and nonfat dairy, and whole grains at all its stores. This year, Kwik Trip announced a commitment to put the Partnership for a Healthier America’s FNV (fruit and vegetable) campaign in all its Wisconsin stores for a few months each year. The retailer also added healthy options for guests to redeem as part of its Kwik Rewards loyalty program. “The guests that come through the stores are all unique and so are the items they’re looking for,” explained Erica Flint, RD, CD, dietician

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Call to Action l While there is no official definition for “clean label,” research shows it to be items with relatively few ingredients and preservatives, and ingredients consumers can pronounce and recognize. All-natural, fresh and organic also fit under the definition. l Concern around clean eating is not universal. Research shows sentiment differs by generation. So, for convenience store operators, knowing their store’s demographics is the first step. Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers are the most health-minded. l If a convenience store is offering cleaner and healthier products — or locally sourced or manufactured products — then signage and labeling these products and sections is key for communicating and building awareness among customers. l While some stores might take the approach of offering one section or an endcap featuring clean label and/or local products, experts recommend keeping the clean and natural offerings spread throughout the store, while making sure they are called out in some way. l C-store operators who commit to offering clean options should also make it part of their overall advertising and marketing plans. Be sure to communicate stories about local products, whether through signage, employees educating customers or advertising outside the store.

in charge of food research and development at Kwik Trip. “The goal is to offer a variety of food and beverages, so there is something for everyone. Stores are stacked with snack items such as nuts, fresh fruit, vegetables (both cut and whole), cheese, yogurt, bars and hardboiled eggs.”

Know Your Customers As consumers place more value on clean eating, they are also looking for more transparency in the foods they consume. This includes where the food came from, who made it and more. This call for greater transparency has followed the trend of consumers’ growing distrust in large manufacturers and the food system overall.

transparency. Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers are the most health-minded, according Balanko. While millennials are most concerned with the amount of sugar, protein and sodium levels, they also want the label “all-natural” and for their food to be free of preservatives, according to a 2016 survey C+R Research did for the Institute of Food Technology. Generation X looks for the term “all-natural” and is concerned about sugar,

“As consumers are aspiring to eat clean, the only way they can make that determination is for themselves,” said Shelley Balanko, Ph.D, senior vice president of The Hartman Group, based in New York. “Consumers won’t rely on a label that says ‘clean food.’ They want the narrative that allows them to understand what is in it, who made it and how it was made.” This also explains the shift toward a focus on local products and localization. When consumers look at local products, they see shared values and assume there is a smaller scale to production, which translates in their minds to “fresher” and “less processed.” “Local products also give the assurance that the food is not from other countries, where they might not have the same regulations as the United States does,” Balanko added. When it comes to product label reading and consumer preferences, though, the concern around clean eating is not universal. Research shows sentiment differs by generation. So, for convenience store operators, knowing their store’s demographics is the first step to considering clean label offerings and

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too, but they also pay attention to trans fats and want items to be hormone-free. Baby boomers are concerned with sugar, sodium and trans fats, and also want items without artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. “Everybody has concerns with sugar and, to some extent, sodium, but I recommend c-stores take a look at the demographics of their customer base and who they are from an age standpoint,” Metz advised. Additionally, c-stores should look at the zip codes their stores operate in because it should not be the same strategy across the board for all locations. As Balanko

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explained, zip codes with less affluent and less educated consumers would be more focused on traditional convenience offerings, while the more affluent and more educated would be interested in clean label options. “Do your research into the demographics and see how that maps out, but this is a trend that is enduring,” Balanko stressed. “The interest in convenient, fresh, real food is not a trend we see going away. This is modern life, and consumers of all ages and backgrounds are interested in eating better. What constitutes clean eating will evolve.”

Communicating to Customers If a convenience store is offering cleaner and healthier products — or locally sourced or manufactured products — then signage and labeling these products and sections is key for communicating and building awareness among customers in the store. “It’s all about labeling and in-store signposting,” said Hartman. “Also, provide information at the point-of-sale and on packages for maximum transparency.” While some stores might take the approach of offering one section or an endcap featuring clean label and/or local products, experts recommend keeping the clean and natural offerings spread throughout the store, while making sure they are called out in some way. “The clean label trend permeates every category,” Hartman noted. “A store might wish to flag individual products throughout the store that contain only natural ingredients.” In fact, research is showing consumers prefer this approach vs. the segregated natural section in many cases, according to Balanko. For years, research showed a preference for a

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“store within a store” or a section with natural products featured together, but that is changing. “Now, our research shows consumers want it integrated and to have those products labeled within the categories,” she said. “C-stores can label the shelves and have a shelf banner that calls out natural and organic chips right alongside regular options. The same with beverages.” C-store operators who commit to offering clean options should also make it part of their overall advertising and marketing plans. Be sure to communicate stories about local products, whether through signage, employees educating customers or advertising outside the store. Kwik Trip, which owns and operates more than 600 convenience stores in Wisconsin and Minnesota under the Kwik Trip banner and in Iowa under the Kwik Star banner, uses social media to communicate its focus on healthy options and locally produced products. “Social media has been a channel that the Kwik Trip marketing team has utilized to give guests a glimpse into where their food comes from,” shared Flint. “Chocolate milk production in the Kwik Trip Dairy went live on Kwik Trip’s Facebook page and was very well received by our guests who enjoyed watching the process.” Kwik Trip not only offers fresh fruits and vegetables, but also fresh meat and dairy. The items can be found in multiple forms throughout the chain’s stores. “It’s important to remember clean labels don’t have to be complicated,” Flint pointed out. “Some of the healthiest ‘clean’ foods and beverages don’t have a label or need to feature marketing callouts on the packaging.” CSN

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Planning for


The competition for “convenience” has never been fiercer in the retail industry A Convenience Store News Staff Report

WITH E-COMMERCE and other technology advancements transforming the way people shop, the competition for “convenience” has never been fiercer in the retail industry than it is today. It’s no coincidence that the theme of the recent 2018 NACS Show in Las Vegas, the convenience store industry’s largest annual gathering, was “Compete.”

Rather than focusing on the delivery of a compelling fuel offer that brings people to the stores — which has long been the strategy — c-store operators should instead focus on delivering a compelling in-store offer that will bring people to the fuel side, NACS President and CEO Henry Armour told attendees of this year’s NACS Show in a keynote address that focused on change, disruption and the future of the convenience channel. “Let’s not get caught, either as convenience store operators or as suppliers to c-stores, thinking that we are an insulated channel. We aren’t. The world competes for the convenience shopping occasion and channel walls have not only crumbled, they are being obliterated,” Armour cautioned. With this in mind, Convenience Store News presents its 2019 Category Planner, designed to be a c-store category manager’s one-stop reference toolbox for

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evaluating performance and consumer trends, and planning business strategy for the coming year. To fill that toolbox, our first-ever Category Planner provides individual toolkits for the most important categories in the convenience channel: prepared food, dispensed beverages, cigarettes, other tobacco products, packaged beverages, beer, candy and snacks. These toolkits contain essential insights, developments that will have the greatest impact on the category in 2019 and a planning calendar with key dates for marketing opportunities. As another speaker at the 2018 NACS Show — Casey McKenzie, senior principal consultant at consulting firm Impact 21 — said, “We don’t plan to fail; we fail to plan.” So, set your priorities and goals for the new year, determine what resources you need to achieve your goals, and develop a plan to regularly monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary. With the right category management tools in their toolbox, all c-store operators can adapt and evolve with consumers’ wants and needs. We hope our 2019 Category Planner provides you food for thought and helps set you up for much success in the coming year.


Your Toolkit: Prepared Food AFTER YEARS OF BOOMING GROWTH, the foodservice category in

convenience stores is maturing, making it all the more important for operators to recognize and maximize opportunities. The lines between meals and snacking continue to blur. While convenience stores still see the most foot traffic around lunch, consumers are looking for more than the standard sandwich, chips and drink combo. Operators can capitalize on this by offering snack-size portions of breakfast items, desserts and more, alongside their full-size menu options. The local movement is also a growing trend that can pay dividends for convenience store operators. Consumers increasingly value products sourced from their area, as well as transparency in what they consume, and regional suppliers are eager to highlight their products. However, retailers must define what “local” means to them and stick to that.

Monthly convenience store dining frequency jumped 13 percent over the past five years, compared to flat growth for many restaurant formats. — AlixPartners

Millennials and Gen Z have challenged us to have more transparency in everything we do, and they want to trace food back to the source. They are more attached to the shopping experience than the previous generation. They want to know where it comes from, and there is a perception that it’s fresher if local because it travels less and sits for less time in the store. — Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice, Rutter’s

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Flavor trends are continuing to have global inspiration. Ethnic items such as internationally sourced ingredients are popular with millennials and members of Generation Z, and items such as empanadas, egg rolls and sushi are particularly craveable for c-store customers. Pizza isn’t just for lunch and dinner. Breakfast pizzas are trending, according to food industry market researcher Datassential.

Think small: On-the-go customers are up for smaller foodservice offerings. In 2016, 62 percent of consumers surveyed by Datassential expressed interest in hot appetizer/finger foods at c-stores, a sharp rise from 19 percent in 2012.

Fresh is the buzzword of now. C-stores should call out their fresh offerings in any form, whether it’s hot food, fruits and vegetables, yogurt parfaits or more.

C-store customers still enjoy their indulgences, but the shift toward healthier prepared food selections has reached the convenience market. Retailers need to find a balance between taste and nutrition.

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PLANNING CALENDAR FEBRUARY 7 NAFEM Show MARCH 4 International Pizza Expo JUNE 1 National Fresh Fruit & Vegetables Month 2 International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Show AUGUST 1 National Sandwich Month NOVEMBER 28 Thanksgiving Day


Your Toolkit: Dispensed Beverages WHY DO CUSTOMERS HEAD TO THE FOUNTAIN instead of the cold vault?

Customization is a key factor, and convenience stores these days are offering more dispensed beverage customization options than ever before. At the fountain area, dispensers like Coca-Cola’s Freestyle and the Pepsi Spire make it easy for shoppers to mix up their perfect concoction. Meanwhile, in the coffee area, a wide variety of creamers, sweeteners, flavors and toppings stand ready and waiting. Also on the rise is the availability of fair-trade and single-origin coffee blends. They appeal to consumers for their transparency and authenticity, as well as their international flair. C-store retailers, depending on their store’s location and demographics, might want to consider planning for the future now by moving away from Styrofoam cups and plastic waste, instead offering and promoting the use of reusable containers. The pushback against non-biodegradable waste isn’t a nationwide trend yet, but consumers are showing interest in “greener” options.

Foodservice (prepared food and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages) is the No. 1 reason consumers shop at convenience stores for in-store merchandise. — AlixPartners

We know that thirst is a primary motivator for customers who visit our sites. Being able to provide easy solutions to satisfy that desire is essential to our business success. Once inside the store, the market basket for this shopper extends past the beverage and can be quite profitable based on category affinities, including fresh food and snacks. — Elisa Goria, global lead for dispensed beverages, Circle K

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Convenience is king when it comes to coffee, but c-stores must not take sales for granted, as customers may go to a coffee shop for the perceived superior quality. Innovation in the coffee segment to explore includes cold brew and nitro brew. C-store customers break the rules of dayparts. Morning might see the most coffee sales, but c-store shoppers are more likely to buy some java later in the day or purchase a soda or slushie in the morning vs. when they visit other foodservice outlets. The fastest dispensed beverage growth on c-store menus is being seen in higher-end juices, specialty coffee beverages, and hot and iced teas, according to food industry market researcher Datassential. Millennials’ interest in adventuresome flavors is affecting the cold dispensed beverage segment, with ginger lime, clementine and blood orange coming out on top of a list of the fastest-growing soda flavors. The combination of consumers’ desire for coffee customization and healthier choices should prompt c-store operators to consider offering options like plant-based creamers, raw sugar and agave syrup.

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PLANNING CALENDAR JANUARY 1 National Hot Tea Month FEBRUARY 10 Mid-America Beverage Expo 24 International Beverage Dispensing Equipment Association Annual Conference & Product Fair MARCH 7 National Coffee Association USA’s 108th Annual Convention SEPTEMBER 29 National Coffee Day


Your Toolkit: Cigarettes THE NEWS AROUND CIGARETTES seems to be the same year after year: declining volumes, but despite the traditional 3-percent to 4-percent dips annually, the segment still drives the tobacco category — and tobacco still drives consumers to convenience stores.

A stronger economy led to an uptick in cigarettes in the third quarter of 2018 and notably, stronger sales in premium brands. However, the category is turning into a tale of two ends of the spectrum as widening price gaps are also pushing fourth-tier sales higher. Economics and consumer behavior aside, c-store tobacco category managers would be served well to have a degree in political science. Local lawmakers continue to make cigarette excise taxes and overall tobacco legislation a centerpiece of their agendas.

The percentage of U.S. adults who are current — every day or some day — cigarette smokers has declined 67 percent since 1965. — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

We have been very successful with our exclusive brand. I feel that it helped us outperform the industry as far as declines. The gap is going to widen between these subgenerics and premium brands, so people will be looking to save some money and being in the Northeast with high excise taxes, consumers are looking for a better value. We’re lucky we have that in place. — Anne Flint, director of category management, tobacco, Cumberland Farms

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San Francisco voters headed to the polls in June and cast ballots in favor of banning flavored tobacco products, including menthol — making it the first major municipality to take menthol off the backbar. Exclusive cigarette brands are helping convenience store retailers gain an edge. For instance, Cumberland Farms has its 1st Class brand, while Smoker Friendly International locations feature the SF house brand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a notable decline in smoking occurred among young adults between 2016 and 2017. About 10 percent of young adults aged 18 to 24 smoked cigarettes in 2017, down from 13 percent in 2016. Supplier loyalty programs are contributing to an increase in cigarette traffic and unit volume. For example, GPM Investments LLC reported that it has seen a lift with Altria Group Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. loyalty programs. A review of point-of-sale data shows that when a customer purchases a tobacco item, the next most-likely item in the basket is another tobacco item, according to Management Science Associates Inc.

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PLANNING CALENDAR JANUARY 1 New Year’s Day. Did your state’s cigarette excise tax increase? APRIL 1 Six months to the 2019 NACS Show in Atlanta. It’s never too early to start planning. NOVEMBER 6 Election Day. Get out and vote. Let your voice be heard! DECEMBER 15 Bill of Rights Day. As tobacco legislation spreads across the country, know your rights.


Your Toolkit: Other Tobacco Products CONVENIENCE STORES’ PIECE OF THE TOBACCO PIE is just shy of three-quarters vs. other outlets like tobacco stores, drugstores and dollar stores. While dollar stores have experienced a significant jump in tobacco sales as of late, they are coming off a small base and do not pose an immediate threat to c-stores — still, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on the competition.

With cigarette volumes facing their typical annual decline, a mix behind the backbar is necessary to keep succeeding in the tobacco category. That’s where other tobacco products (OTP) comes into play. Large cigars and moist tobacco are growing, in particular. A major question mark in OTP right now is around electronic cigarettes and vapor products. Pod-based vapor products like Juul continue to soar in popularity, but with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) target on vapor products and flavors, and the role they play in youth tobacco use, c-stores may soon have to count them out of the mix.

More than 1,300 warning letters and fines were issued to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarette and vapor products to minors during “a nationwide, undercover blitz” this summer. — Food and Drug Administration

In a study we did in the past several years, we found that about 30 percent of convenience stores are able to increase their tobacco category sales each year. They typically do it by carrying the right products. That’s actually critical. — Don Burke, senior vice president, Management Science Associates Inc.

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The FDA has issued advance notices of proposed rulemaking covering several OTP focal points: flavors, nicotine levels and regulation of premium cigars.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta issued a stay on cigar warning label regulations on July 5, extending it until 60 days after an appeal has been decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., circuit.

Massachusetts became the sixth state to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The measure goes into effect Dec. 31.

Altria Group Inc. got ahead of federal regulations and voluntarily pulled its MarkTen Elite and Apex by MarkTen pod-based products from the market.

Cannabis could be the next big OTP segment. As of this fall, nine states and Washington, D.C., had legalized full recreational use.

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PLANNING CALENDAR MARCH 29 National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. Encourage current and potential customers to shop local for their OTP category needs. AUGUST 8 Third anniversary of the FDA’s deeming rule. Are you on track to meet the deadlines for your newly deemed product applications? SEPTEMBER 3 Two months until Election Day. Are there any tobacco-related issues on your ballot? NOVEMBER 23 The holiday shopping season has begun. Help adult smokers make the switch to reducedrisk products with enticing promotions.


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Your Toolkit: Packaged Beverages CARBONATED SOFT DRINKS have been on a rollercoaster ride over the past several years, leading other beverage options to take over space in the cold vault. There’s been real innovation in the packaged beverages category as the market has particularly seen growth in the ready-to-drink coffee segment, including cold brew, and the ready-to-drink tea segment.

“Healthier” beverages are also on the rise. This includes drinks that offer functional benefits, are made with energizing natural ingredients and, most importantly, that taste good and are more interesting than just plain water.

Overall beverage sales were up 4.3 percent in the third quarter of 2018 — only slightly below the 4.6-percent increase logged in the second quarter. — Beverage Buzz, Wells Fargo Securities LLC

We’re seeing many new energy drinks, sports drinks and enhanced waters hitting the shelves, delivering on a ‘better-for-you’ promise with enhanced productivity. These brands are fortified with vitamins, extracts and energizing natural ingredients and are poised to revolutionize the packaged beverage industry. — Jon Fiondella, account director, Epsilon Agency

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Be sure to keep an eye on new trends in ingredients and packaging, from organic iced tea to kombucha to moringa tea.

The energy drink subcategory is getting a makeover with more products featuring healthier ingredients and boasting low or no high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives.

Beverages as snacks is a growing development. Some suppliers are touting snack-sized beverages, including milk- and yogurt-based drinks.

Check out Nestle Waters’ Acqua Panna, San Pellegrino Essenza, Perrier & Juice and Kids Buddies — all among the top 10 Cool New Products from the 2018 NACS Show. Private label beverages are seeing success. 7-Eleven’s 7-Select Go! Smart Clean & Green Cold Pressed Organic Juice took home gold in the Private Label Manufacturing Association’s 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards.

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PLANNING CALENDAR FEBRUARY 3 Super Bowl Sunday MAY 6 Beverage Day JUNE 20 Ice Cream Soda Day JULY 4 Independence Day AUGUST 11 Dog Days of Summer (begins July 3)


Your Toolkit: Beer managers must balance myriad trends to generate peak sales and profits from the fourth-largest in-store revenue category after cigarettes, packaged beverages and prepared food. While the whole beer category doesn’t show spectacular growth year over year, there are numerous subcategories like imports and craft beer that shine, depending on the year. BEER CATEGORY

For 2019, experts say balance is the key — stock the hot brands, but don’t neglect promoting premium, budget and popular brands as well for the volume they generate. Also, keep an eye on what may be the next hot subcategory: cannabis-infused beer.

67 percent of iGens — those born between 1995 and 2007 — say they avoid unhealthy activities such as excessive drinking and smoking, compared to 56 percent of millennials. — Mintel

Attracting millennials into the alcoholic beverage category remains a priority for suppliers, distributors and retailers. From our latest On Premise User Survey, the results are clear in one thing: the millennial age group (21-35) is diverse in itself — with differences that marketers need to take note of, now. — Matthew Crompton, client director, Nielsen CGA

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Attracting young adult drinkers will remain a priority. Millennials and Gen Z are more interested in authenticity and making informed purchasing decisions.

Small packs are key. C-store customers tend to buy 12-packs or less.

Single beers are a c-store’s most profitable sale, so consider giving them more space and try two-for pricing to increase the basket.

Take inspiration from brew pubs and tap rooms, which are often situated at the heart of a community; have passionate, knowledgeable staff who are similar to their customers; and offer an ever-changing selection of products, giving consumers something new and different. People buy beer based on the occasion in which they’ll be drinking it. Market against relaxing, connecting with friends or attending a social event.

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PLANNING CALENDAR JANUARY 24 Beer Can Appreciation Day

MAY 5 Cinco de Mayo

FEBRUARY 3 Super Bowl Sunday

OCTOBER 6 Oktoberfest (begins Sept. 21)

MARCH 17 March Madness (ends April 8)

DECEMBER 31 New Year’s Eve







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continues to be driven by consumers’ desire to indulge, while remaining committed to their health and wellness goals. Nine out of 10 chocolate buyers agree that it’s OK to indulge occasionally in the sweet stuff vs. 63 percent who say it’s important to limit chocolate consumption, according to Mintel research. Although consumers want choices in what they’re indulging in and what they’re treating themselves with, convenience store retailers must not treat all consumers the same. They can create balance by expanding new-age treats, while still optimizing core products.

Reducing sugar (61 percent) and reducing calories (44 percent) are the leading reasons why consumers say they are eating less candy these days. — Mintel

Chocolate’s continued sales growth signals that consumers remain open to small treats, even as they strive to eat healthier overall. Its status as a permissible indulgence and unique craveability give chocolate ample room for further growth and premiumization. — Jake Owen, senior food and drink analyst, Mintel

TOP 5 Developments

1 2 3 4 5

C-store retailers and suppliers say the most effective ways to drive impulse candy purchases are enticement, leveraging the checkout, and clear and simple signage.

U.S. chocolate buyers (49 percent) are most likely to say they would like to see more chocolate in the form of mini-sized bars or bites.

PLANNING CALENDAR FEBRUARY 1 Bubble Gum Day 14 Valentine’s Day

New product launches of chewy candy in the United States grew 83 percent over the last five years.

APRIL 21 Easter 22 National Jelly Bean Day

Fewer than one in five candy eaters (18 percent) say they read the nutritional information on non-chocolate confectionery products.

JUNE 1 National Candy Month

Holiday/seasonal chocolate accounts for about a quarter of the market’s sales. Easter is the largest segment followed by Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

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JULY 7 Chocolate Day 20 National Lollipop Day OCTOBER 20 Sweetest Day 31 Halloween DECEMBER 24 National Chocolate Day 25 Christmas

Your Toolkit: Snacks of on-the-go eating and snacking as a replacement for meals is having a positive effect on packaged snack sales in convenience stores. New product innovation, increased variety and products touting “better for you” benefits (such as non-GMO and high protein), are among the trends that are propelling the category forward.


In the third and final report of its Power of Snacking series, Nielsen identifies four key areas that are set to make the biggest impact on the future development of the snacking category. They are: in-store space, technology, channel portfolios, and brand vs. private label.

The convenience channel has traditionally been the engine driving the snacking category, but it is now having to work harder to differentiate itself against a mission also being catered for by large supermarkets and online. — Power of Snacking, Nielsen

Multicultural is growing exponentially. By 2044, the U.S. will be dominantly multicultural. Crossover opportunities with treats and snacks spill over into all demographics, so look at taste preferences and product innovation to stay on target, as opposed to just demographics. — Jaime Enrique (Rick) Parra, executive director, multicultural/Hispanic consulting, Winston Weber & Associates Inc.

TOP 5 Developments

1 2 3 4 5

Salty snacks are viewed as an acceptable indulgence, with 42 percent of consumers agreeing taste is more important than health, but still many are looking for more healthful varieties. “Better for you” snacks will continue to feature alternative ingredients (non-potato) and include different types of proteins, grains, vegetables and superfoods. Snack category experts advise c-store retailers to start offering healthier snacks to customers by incorporating a small section within their salty snack set. If that does well, the retailer can place a “Better for You” endcap in a prime position. Nearly half of consumers (49 percent) express interest in traditional varieties of ready-to-eat popcorn such as cheese-flavored, while 32 percent want indulgent flavors like chocolate- or caramel-covered.

Interest in premium products, such as meat snacks made from prime cuts, is high among meat-snack consumers of all ages.

PLANNING CALENDAR JANUARY 19 National Popcorn Day 29 National Cornchip Day FEBRUARY 3 Super Bowl Sunday 24 National Tortilla Chip Day MARCH 14 Popcorn Lover’s Day 23 National Chip & Dip Day


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APRIL 26 National Pretzel Day JUNE 12 National Jerky Day OCTOBER 1 National Cookie Month 22 National Nut Day

Convenience Store News



What’s Hot on C-store Menus? QuickChek’s Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese delivers warmth this fall GOOEY WARMTH and spicy heat for the fall was found in QuickChek Corp.’s new Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, introduced in September.

OPERATOR: QuickChek ITEM TYPE: New Item DATE: September 2018 PRICE: $4.99 Our signature Mac & Cheese paired with breaded chicken and spicy Buffalo Sauce baked to perfection. Buffalo chicken lovers unite!

Buffalo chicken is already well-known and loved by consumers. According to Datassential’s FLAVOR database, 54 percent love or like it. When you add in the mac & cheese — which 80 percent of consumers love or like — you’ve got the formula for a super-craveable concept.

garner the best results. A dish like mac & cheese is especially simple, easy to manufacture and keep at a hot bar, and extremely customizable — there are virtually endless possibilities for flavors to add. QuickChek has demonstrated that you can go beyond the standard. Take your mac & cheese concepts to the next level through “safe experimentation” by picking a couple of flavors not yet familiar with the public. Maybe a different kind of cheese or a unique spice. Need help finding what could work? Consider checking out Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle for inception-level flavors that are just starting to appear on menus.

Know Your Target QuickChek’s Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese appeals the most to men, millennials and Gen X consumers. The product also resonates highest among those in the South and Midwest. CSN

While the dish has very familiar ingredients, it’s a fresh concept in the eyes of consumers. According to Datassential’s SCORES platform — which tracks six consumer ratings on menu item success — QuickChek’s Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese scored in the 91st percentile for Uniqueness. Consumers would also order this dish all the time, with the item scoring in the 93rd percentile for Frequency.

Simplicity & Customization Count One thing we’ve seen time and again with convenience store limited-time offers (LTOs) is that some of the most basic concepts can

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

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Vapor Products Under Fire The Food and Drug Administration takes a strong regulatory stance on flavors By Melissa Kress ON NOV. 15, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a big regulatory step when Commissioner Scott Gottlieb directed the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) to revisit the federal compliance policy around deemed electronic nicotine devices (ENDs) that are flavored, including all flavors other than tobacco, mint and menthol.

Specifically, the agency’s head wants to move the sale of all flavored vapor products to age-restricted, in-person locations — effectively taking convenience stores out of the mix. If sold online, the sales would be “under heightened practices for age verification,” Gottlieb said. The changes, however, would not include mint- and menthol-flavored ENDs because data suggests they are more popular with adults than with underage users, who are at the center of this FDA policy shift. While Gottlieb’s directive is specifically aimed at flavored vapor products, menthol tobacco products and flavored cigars have not escaped his attention. The commissioner said he is “deeply concerned about the availability of menthol-flavored cigarettes.” Menthol cigarettes can spur youth initiation to smoking and “disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities,” according to Gottlieb. To that end, the FDA is initiating a new Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that would seek to ban menthol in combustible tobacco products, including cigarettes and cigars, informed by the comments received on an initial ANPRM issued in late March.

“It wasn’t surprising that the FDA was sort of tiptoeing through its regulatory authority to try to use it for best effect. But it makes for a kind of complicated omelet — a mixture of many different authorities being used in different ways,” said Marc Scheineson, a partner and leader of Alston & Bird’s Food and Drug Law Practice. Scheineson, who is a former FDA associate commissioner for legislative affairs, said he is a little surprised the proposed regulations come during the Trump administration — which he called an anti-regulatory administration — and are based on evidence that’s anything but unequivocal. “It’s clear that kids like Juul [brand vapor products] and it’s fine to put restrictions or strengthen existing restrictions, but he is using the flavored Juul pods as a string for a broadscale attack on flavorings of tobacco products in general and citing statistics that, in general, are being misinterpreted,” Scheineson explained. “Smoking, in general, of traditional tobacco products has taken a big dive. While FDA can take credit for that, that trend has been going on since 2004 — way before the 2009 Tobacco Control Act.”

With all the attention on flavors, Gottlieb said the FDA must also evaluate its regulatory approach to flavored cigars. Specifically, the commissioner proposes a policy through appropriate means to ban flavors in cigars.

Off Target? It’s doubtful that the FDA’s recent announcements took anyone by complete surprise. Following a series of ANPRMs that sought information on the role of flavors, nicotine levels in cigarettes and premium cigars, the agency began a crackdown on electronic cigarettes and vapor products this spring. The FDA capped this off with a nationwide retail blitz this summer, issuing more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarette and vapor products to minors in retail stores and online. What has raised some eyebrows, though, is the number of moves Gottlieb announced.


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Convenience Store News



According to Scheineson, Gottlieb is using studies that have nothing to do with the products they are being applied to, like cigarette studies being applied to filtered cigars, or to cigars, or to pipes, or to ENDs. “This is not a sprint. This is a marathon,” he added. Flavor regulations were largely expected to be part of the FDA’s 2016 deeming rule, which gave the agency regulatory authority over other tobacco products not already under its purview, including e-cigarettes and cigars. However, that rule did not address this issue — mainly because the science is not there to really show flavors are a youth initiator, said Scheineson. “[Flavors] have been in most of these products, especially cigars, for 150 years and the Tobacco Control Act contained a thoughtful mechanism for evaluating the flavor rules and performance standards,” he said. “It’s not one-size-fits-all. We don’t even know what a characterizing flavor is because the FDA has never defined it. It’s introducing a very important national debate, but it is a little bit opportunistic using an abuse of a lawful product like Juul to go after a broad flavor ban, including menthol.”

The Opposite Effect? Overall, the tobacco industry agrees with Gottlieb’s goal — keeping tobacco products out of the hands of underage users — but some industry insiders question his proposed measures.

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“Our own research — including a survey of 2,500 Cue users — indicates adult smokers turn to vapor products as a means of reducing or ending their exposure to cigarettes, and that they are more successful when non-tobacco flavors are used,” E-Alternative Solutions President and CEO Jacopo D’Alessandris told Convenience Store News. “We expect these limitations will make it harder for adult smokers to end their cigarette use. Many smokers and vapers will find it difficult to find the flavored products they seek.” Adult tobacco users who find their access to vapor products less convenient are likely to return to smoking traditional cigarettes, D’Alessandris noted, adding that convenience stores will be the class of trade most severely impacted as a result of Gottlieb’s directive to the CTP.

Is the Clock Ticking Down? At the end of the day, change will take time. Significant regulatory action, like this, requires several levels of review and checks and balances. “It’s a process. It takes a long time. It will take a couple of years to play out — minimum,” said Scheineson. “FDA has the burden, once it’s rulemaking, of showing compounds are harmful. And if it’s significant regulatory action, which this is — it has an impact of $100 million or more a year on the economy — or is a major policy pronouncement, it goes through detailed OMB [Office of Management and Budget] review.” That review is 90 days and the OMB has the power to extend it past that timeframe. CSN


Giving Consumers All the Fuel They Need Fuels Leader of the Year Rick Altizer oversees exciting growth at BP North America By Don Longo & Chelsea Regan RICK ALTIZER JOINED BP in January 2017. As senior vice president of fuels for BP North America, he has presided over an exciting time in the convenience store industry, and an exciting period of growth and change for BP.

In the past 20 months, BP expanded its network of stores on the West Coast, further developed its loyalty program with new partners and expanded agreements with existing partners, and launched a new digital initiative to reduce the friction of consumer payments. BP also reintroduced the Amoco brand late last year. “We created a new channel of trade on the West Coast with the opening of 55 sites of our MSO [multi-site operator] model,” said Altizer, who was selected as this year’s Convenience Store News Fuels Leader of the Year. The award is given annually to a company or individual that shows exceptional leadership in the development and marketing of both petroleum and alternative fuels to consumers.

The development and growth of BP’s ampm franchise model is one of the company’s proudest accomplishments, according to Altizer, who added that BP for the first time in more than a decade is developing brand-new stores on the West Coast and expects to have eight new sites open by the end of this year. BP also has 37 sites open under the relaunched Amoco brand, which disappeared more than 10 years ago. The first new Amoco stations opened in the New York metro area earlier this year. In an industry-first move, BP launched a loyalty program partnership with United Airlines, and expanded its existing loyalty program with supermarket giant Kroger to now include Kroger banners Mariano’s in Chicago and Harris Teeter on the East Coast. The company’s digital focus is on providing frictionless payments to its customers. “The payment platform in the U.S., broadly speaking, hasn’t really evolved since credit card acceptance at the pump. As we roll out BPme over the next year, we’ll provide our customers with much less friction in how they pay for their gas through the BP mobile app,” said Altizer. The BPme mobile app simplifies the purchasing experience and enriches the value that customers get from choosing BP and Amoco, he explained. BP is looking at other ways, too, to use advanced technologies to reduce friction in the digital and store experience.

For the first time in more than a decade, BP is developing brandnew stores on the West Coast.

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“The goal is to provide a high-quality c-store experience, so customers get all the fuel they need — from gas to Red Bulls, cigarettes or lotto tickets. Whatever fuel is for them, we want to make sure they can get it, and get in and out quickly and on their way,” said Altizer. “The frictionless experience applies

In the U.S., BP’s retail presence consists of BP, Arco and Amoco branded stations, as well as ampm convenience stores.

not just to the forecourt, but to the store as well.”

Energy for Today & Tomorrow BP also has been busy in the area of alternative fuels. Through a partnership with Clean Energy, it supplies renewable natural gas (RNG) to truck fleets. “We’ve taken a big position with RNG and we’re working hard to develop more biofuels across the integrated value chain,” Altizer said. “We see electric vehicle charging as another important part of the energy transition,” he added. “We are meeting the dual challenge of providing energy for today and also providing energy for the future, while reducing our carbon footprint.”

BP purchased the largest public charging network in the United Kingdom, ChargeMaster, providing it with about 6,500 advanced rapid charging systems. “As the market evolves and the infrastructure improves, we’ll certainly look at how that technology comes to the retail footprint of BP in the U.S.,” he said. Going forward, BP’s focus will be on continuing to grow its BP and Amoco networks; growing West Coast retail with ampm; expanding its footprint in the New York/New Jersey market, where it has added 100 sites to the BP brand in addition to the Amoco openings; and expanding its digital footprint through the BPme mobile fuel payment and driver rewards app. CSN

New Year ... New Look And Continued Evolution for

Convenience Store News magazine has been the leader in convenience retailing information for more than 40 years. As the c-store industry has evolved, CSNews has changed to stay at the forefront of industry developments. With our January 2018 issue, we are excited to unveil the next step in that evolution with a fresh update to the look and feel of the magazine.


Industry’s Favorite Magazine has a new look that matches the evolution of the convenience retail market.


Temperate Optimism

pliers and retailers, sup ing Convenience about the com are upbeat distributors ervations. res few a year — with


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The Intricacies of HBC Follow these five best practices to craft the ideal health & beauty care section By Renée M. Covino GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES and perhaps nowhere is this more accurate in a convenience store than in the health and beauty care (HBC) category — a smaller but critical category for sales, profit and delivering that “convenience” factor.

To craft the ideal HBC section, industry experts and analysts offer up these five tips:

Concentrate on Convenience This may seem obvious, but it’s really the backbone of HBC category success in the convenience channel. “Convenience is the driving force, and greatest opportunity, for health and beauty brands in c-stores,” Rulynn Hansen, senior account director for Epsilon marketing agency, told Convenience Store News. The best approach is to treat the HBC department as “convenience-oriented,” echoed Don Stuart, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group. “The role in the convenience channel is to satisfy basic needs in terms of top consumer decisions, especially in categories such as HBC with high walk rates.”

Keep It Small This is another obvious practice, but just as crucial as the convenience aspect. In a c-store, space is at a premium and shopper patience is at a minimum.

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“Shoppers want to be in and out of the store quickly, so brands that deliver on product assortment in smaller package sizes and low-entry price points are more likely to win,” Hansen advised. HBC generates high margins for c-stores but, due to space constraints, it is imperative to merchandise according to the approach that not all subcategories within HBC are equal. The typical footprint is small — usually three or four feet wide — making it vital to get the assortment right, according to Convenience Valet, a division of Mechanical Servants Inc. based in Melrose Park, Ill., distributing trial- and travelsize consumer products. The company’s concentration is on the top seven subcategories that it says represent more than 85 percent of the total HBC category and the corresponding best-selling SKUs.

Choose Brands Wisely Based on retail channel research, Convenience Valet found that 68 percent of consumers shopping for HBC will leave a store if their brand is not available there. HBC shoppers have an immediate need and often a specific brand in mind to fill their need. When the shopper leaves to find what they are looking for, they go to a competitor and if they find the desired product there, nearly seven out of 10 consumers will then purchase an incremental item, the company found. “Retailers must get the brands and products right or more than just HBC sales will be lost,” the company stated.

Stuart agrees that brand is critical in a customer’s path to purchase — or not purchase. At a minimum, he recommends the following four guidelines when it comes to HBC category brands: • Carry the top one or two brands; • Stock a minimal size variety, which typically means a “convenience-oriented” size (this translates into small or midsize); • Carry the most popular variant or sub-brands in terms of benefits; and • Stock a minimal flavor/fragrance or strength variety. “The overall goal is to satisfy basic needs and minimize defection on these convenience-oriented purchases,” reasoned Stuart.

Consider Category Innovation C-stores don’t have a lot of room to play with in HBC, but innovation in this category from the big players is worth considering, experts maintain. Procter & Gamble, for instance, recently unveiled several new HBC and non-edible grocery category items for c-stores, including Tide Antibacterial Spray, Tide Pods (9-count), Gain Flings (9-count), Febreze Car Platinum Ice and Febreze Car Old Spice. Items like these, which are supported by large and wellthought-out marketing campaigns, could prove beneficial in putting incremental profit in c-store operators’ pockets.

Do a True Category Analysis Knowing HBC can be a tricky category to manage, suppliers and distributors of HBC products are ready, willing and able to help c-store retailers evaluate and optimize their offering.

their inventory costs through the elimination of SKUs. Convenience Valet likewise works with retailers to assess their current category performance, understand and/or help define strategic objectives, and provide

HBC generates high margins for c-stores but, due to space constraints, it is imperative to merchandise according to the approach that not all subcategories within HBC are equal. category tactics to support those objectives. The company will generate detailed planograms to ensure proper implementation and then review the performance of the category on a six-month and annual basis. Although results will vary by retailer, analyzed sets typically generate doubledigit sales increases year over year, the company reports. Depending on the initial starting point, first-year results often reveal sales increases in the 20-30 percent range and, in some cases, help retailers drive sales increases of more than 40 percent. CSN

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based S. Abraham & Sons (SAS), a convenience distributor to retailers in eight states throughout the Midwest, helps its customers utilize their point-of-sale (POS) scan data, pairing it with store layouts and planograms. The SAS team will perform a custom sales analysis for its retailer partners. The retailer is asked to provide a one-year snapshot breakdown. A report is then generated whereby the category’s actual profit dollar is weighed against its actual percentage of shelf. This provides a store-specific measure of the category’s sales health. Taking it one step further, the data is then color-coded on top of a digital model for a custom “Profit Heatmap.” With POS data driving the category, it is much easier to adjust product placement and create a better profit-generating scenario, according to SAS, which was recently acquired by Imperial Trading Co. Across all analyzed categories, the distributor reports that participating stores average year-over-year, same-store sales dollar increases of 16 percent. Participating stores also lower


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Convenience Store News



A Differentiated Experience Shell Select puts the emphasis on local, culinary-inspired food and beverage offers By Danielle Romano

To develop Shell Select, the company drew inspiration from its global presence, specifically its European markets.

and lifestyles continue to evolve, the mobility of online shopping and on-the-move convenience are playing increasingly important roles in their busy lives.


Setting a goal to improve the customer journey and play an active role in expanding and diversifying according to evolving consumer needs, Shell introduced the Shell Select store concept to the U.S. convenience store market on Sept. 5.

At a Glance Shell Select

Operator: Estepp Energy of Lexington, Ky. Location: 4950 Old Brownsboro Road, Louisville, Ky. Size: 2,221 square feet Unique features: Fresh, culinary-inspired, made-toorder food and beverages; an open layout for easy navigation; LED lighting to make the products the hero

To develop Shell Select, the company drew inspiration from its global presence. Specifically, Shell looked to its primary markets in continental Europe, where only 35 percent of customers visit just for fuel and nearly half of all visits in 2017 were for purchases beyond the pump, according to Gyongyver Menesi-Bondar, head of convenience retail, Shell Oil Products US. With that in mind, the first U.S. Shell Select store offers a wide range of high-quality, fresh, culinary-inspired, made-to-order food and beverages featuring subtle local touches. “Shell is always innovating, and we continuously look for opportunities to provide our customers a differentiated experience,” said Menesi-Bondar. “Our ambition is fueled by customers’ desire for integrated services that deliver greater convenience and give them back time for the things they enjoy.”

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Fresh & Local Offers When Shell began planning for the opening of the first Shell-branded convenience store in the United States, it wanted a concept that reflected its commitment to supporting its wholesale network in the country through a strong, competitive retail format. To help with that vision, the company turned to New York-based Bona Design Lab, a global retail design and consulting firm. Together, they embarked on a series of “best-practice safaris” across the U.S., visiting a wide range of convenience formats with and without fuel. “This allowed us to further align our strategy around the key segments and missions for the Shell Select brand,” said veteran store designer and consultant Joseph Bona, president of Bona Design Lab. “We also worked closely with the Shell Global Formats Team in Europe to ensure that the Global Shell Select Brand Standards were being adjusted and enhanced in a way that was consistent with their global footprint.” Shell selected Louisville, Ky., for the debut of Shell Select in the U.S. because of the city’s vibrant local culture and reputation for unique food and beverage offers. Located at the site of a former Thorntons convenience store, the strategy behind the overall design was to create a strong food and beverage presentation that includes

local touches and products. Among the fresh-food offers available at Shell Select are breakfast and lunch items, including chef-inspired Kentucky favorites for breakfast like the Country Sausage Biscuit breakfast sandwich, Bacon Sconewich and Country Ham Biscuit Duo; and lunch favorites such as the Kentucky Hot Brown Sourdough Panini and Andouille Sausage Hoagie. Fresh-baked cookies and Kentucky Bourbon Bread Pudding are among the baked treats. On the beverage side, smoothies, café frappes, frozen creations and Good Folks fresh-brewed coffee are a few of the beverage options that Shell Select customers can customize according to their unique preferences. Other amenities offered at Shell Select include: • Fuels and lubricants, such as Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline; • An outdoor covered patio with free Wi-Fi; • A bar-height counter indoors for customer comfort; • An ATM; and • Lottery tickets. “Shell Select was designed with the purpose of reinforcing the overall food and beverage strategy, but also highlighting the local roots of Estepp Energy [a Lexington, Ky.based wholesaler of Shell-branded motor fuel], which operates the site,” Bona noted. “There is a Louisville-themed wall mural created by a local artisan that reinforces a sense of community; that is further underlined by a range of unique local products that are displayed on a customerfacing endcap.”

Disrupting the Marketplace by Design From the outside in, the design of Shell Select was intended to be somewhat disruptive by making a strong visual statement to introduce the Shell Select brand to the marketplace, and to immediately signal from the outside what might be found on the inside. The exterior architecture features large wood-paneled fascia to provide a warmer, friendlier contrast against the highly recognized and globally known Shell fuel brand. The design also integrates a brown metal overhang that extends along the storefront and over a large outdoor patio area, which signals this is a destination for food, according to Bona. Once inside, the layout and design is organized so that the food and beverage offers deliver strong “foodpressions” by making these key categories highly visible and easily accessible immediately upon entering the store. Customers find the self-service beverage offering to the left of the entrance and the fresh food products filling the back wall. The 2,221-square-foot store features an open ceiling and open layout to help create a space that feels spacious and is easy to navigate. LED lighting provides a high contrast to make the products the hero and create an authentic marketplace-type of experience.

Shell Select intentionally avoids the oversized graphic treatments that are found in a lot of traditional convenience store designs.

“The interior treatment makes use of the Shell Select global palette of colors and materials, but reinterprets them to underscore the central role of food and beverage,” Bona explained. “The interior design is further distinguished by a clean, understated approach to departmental graphics that intentionally avoids the oversized graphic treatments and ’loud’ colors that characterize a lot of traditional convenience store designs.” When it comes to the future of Shell Select across the U.S., Menesi-Bondar told Convenience Store News that Shell is working with its wholesalers to explore and evaluate opportunities for additional openings across various U.S. markets. The Shell Select concept will be adapted with each new location. “Shell Select is not meant to be a ‘one standard for all’ solution, but rather it is intended to be a flexible concept that utilizes a consistent global ‘toolkit’ that can be adjusted and adopted as necessary to best fit into a local environment,” said Bona. CSN


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Laura Asbell, Mondelez International Inc. The 2016 TWIC Woman of the Year says organizations must change to support a dynamic workforce By Linda Lisanti NOW IN ITS FIFTH YEAR, the Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience (TWIC) awards program has recognized more than 200 of the best and brightest women making a positive impact on not only the companies they work for, but also the entire convenience retail channel.

TWIC is the only program that recognizes exceptional female leaders, rising stars and mentors among retailer, supplier and distributor firms in the convenience store industry, from the C-suite to the store level to the independent entrepreneur. In TWIC Talk, our new Q&A series, we interview a past TWIC winner about what it’s like to be a female leader in the convenience store industry today — the opportunities, the challenges — and get their words of wisdom for up-andcomers seeking to blaze their own trail.

and not something only spoken about at top levels or in training sessions. It has momentum in the media and in our industry, and this momentum is growing. This is supported by the above-mentioned affinity groups and organizations, but also the general “talk” about gender equality in the media. At Mondelez International, we have our own Women Sales Council whose mission is to attract, retain, develop and advance employees at Mondelez International. It seeks to create a merit-based environment of respect, trust and honesty where we value individual uniqueness and allow employees to bring their whole self to work. These types of organizations give women a voice that is heard at all levels.

This month’s TWIC Talk subject is Laura Asbell, a regional vice president at Mondelez International Inc., one of the world’s largest snack companies. In 2016, Asbell was one of the five women celebrated by TWIC as Women of the Year.

Along your career path, did you personally experience gender bias or inequality? If so, how did you overcome? I am not different than the statistics in the area of gender equality as I have been around for 30 years, but the best thing I did to overcome this was to speak out. I took control of my career and drove change for myself with support from my family, mentors and champions. Now, I try to pay it forward in mentoring others and supporting others in their careers.

How would you describe the current state of affairs for gender equality in the convenience store industry? How does this compare to 10 years ago? Our industry has made significant progress in the last 10 years, but there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement. I have seen the rise of women not only in high-profile industry jobs, but also jobs at all levels at both CPG suppliers and retail/distributors. The other change I have witnessed is the increase in affinity groups that support women in our industry, including Convenience Store News’ Top Women in Convenience, Network of Executive Women and many company programs. Despite these gains, I feel we are still underrepresented in top leadership positions, but hopeful that it continues to improve. What is the most positive change you have personally witnessed? That gender equality is now part of normal conversations throughout the industry

What barriers to advancement do you see still existing in the c-store industry? Our workforce is in constant change, from baby boomers to Gen Z, and as much as we have changed already, we need to stay agile and flexible. It is no longer about changing the person, but rather changing organizations to support a dynamic workforce — a workforce that is diverse, inclusive, ever-changing and values work/life balance. What is your advice for other industry women looking to rise to higher ranks? Now more than ever, we have momentum against gender equality and we all need to leverage this momentum. The best way is through networking! The old saying, “It isn’t just what you know but who you know,” still plays a role today, and the best way to win is to make sure you network and get to know others in the industry, both in your organization and outside. Networking will allow you to keep informed about opportunities, give you a forum for feedback/ development and give you the courage to accept new challenges. Join and be active in networking associations. Volunteer for special projects that will get you exposure and take control of your career. Speak up. CSN

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An Exceptionally Active Year in M&A Many of the market conditions that have acted as a catalyst seem firmly entrenched AS 2018 IS IN ITS FINAL QUARTER and we all move into the holiday season, the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market in the convenience and gas (C&G) industry is wrapping up one of, if not, its most active years in both the number of transactions completed and the overall monetary value of the acquisitions closed to date.

While the C&G industry has experienced a tremendous amount of M&A activity over the past 10 years, many of the market conditions that have acted as a catalyst in this overall process seem firmly entrenched for the foreseeable future. However, there are several potential headwinds on the horizon as 2018 draws to a close.

By John C. Flippen Jr. & John Sartory, Managing Directors, Petroleum Capital and Real Estate LLC

No matter how much President Trump complains, the Federal Reserve seems determined to drive up market interest rates and risk potentially slowing down the current pace of economic activity in the United States. In addition, the accelerating upward movement in labor expenses and the overall shortage of qualified workers in the U.S., especially in the low-margin retail industry, is negatively impacting the future profitability outlook for numerous retailers. While the final aggregate economic data for the U.S. economy in 2018 is not in yet, there are many indications that wages in the C&G industry are still rising at a rate well above the national average of approximately 3 percent and continues a trend that has been building for a couple of years. According to NACS’ 2017 State of the Industry report, wages grew by 8.3 percent in 2017 when compared to 2016, and were accompanied by a 9.3-percent increase in health insurance and a 10.3-percent increase in other

benefits. Most importantly, the increase in labor expenses outpaced the overall growth in total site-level gross profit of 6.1 percent in 2017 — certainly a troubling trend for any industry or operator. As the cost of capital increases, and the numerous labor-related problems for retailers continue to mount, a number of experts in the C&G industry are starting to debate if these market forces will finally result in downward pressure on acquisition multiples. Basic economic theory and history would certainly lead any independent observer to predict that sharply rising interest rates will negatively impact the M&A marketplace and overall market valuations, but it is too early to tell for sure how quickly and how high a data-driven Federal Reserve will raise market interest rates over the next few years. While no one is expecting the nationwide shortage of qualified workers to turn around anytime in the near future, it is also impossible to know for sure when the upward pressure on the cost of labor will start to abate or advancements in technology will reduce the demand for retail employees. It is certainly possible the historical market forces that have been driving the consolidation in the industry throughout this decade, such as the strong demand for attractive retail assets, may offset or partially negate these negative trends. It will be interesting to watch as these conflicting market dynamics play out in 2019. Let’s briefly review some of the larger transactions that have been announced or closed in 2018 and in doing so, we will highlight some of the other important market dynamics that continue to drive and shape


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the ongoing and active consolidation in the industry. The acquisitions highlighted here also potentially foreshadow the future composition and strategic direction of some of the more active M&A players, other than the obvious choices of 7-Eleven Inc. and Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./ Circle K, in 2019 and beyond.

Food Stores (ExtraMile Convenience Stores LLC) plans to double the number of ExtraMile branded c-store sites in the next 10 years. Chevron’s initiative certainly runs contrary to the retail divestment strategy recently followed by most of the other major oil companies in the U.S.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. In October 2018, Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) closed on its $23.3-million merger agreement with Andeavor, which just completed a $6.4-billion acquisition of Western Refining Inc. in June 2017. The combined company immediately became the No. 1 U.S. refiner by capacity and a top five refiner globally, with more than three million barrels per day capacity across 16 refineries located in California, the Midcontinent and Pacific Northwest regions of the U.S. The transaction also creates a nationwide marketing network that includes approximately 8,800 retail sites that feature various motor fuel brands such as Marathon, Arco, SuperAmerica, Shell, Exxon and Mobil, to only name a few. In addition, Speedway LLC, a MPC subsidiary, owns and operates more than 3,000 company-operated convenience stores in 21 states and prior to this transaction, was the third largest c-store chain in the U.S. MPC has already announced it will convert the newly acquired SuperAmerica convenience store chain to its Speedway brand. Gary Heminger, the company’s CEO and chairman, has stated publicly that the merger will allow MPC to create a national retail and marketing platform; lead to substantial revenue enhancement and cost-saving opportunities; and permit the company to unlock $1 billion of tangible annual run-rate synergies within the next three years. This mega acquisition certainly places MPC, and its retail subsidiary Speedway, in a stronger position to compete in the future with the two largest and active M&A players in the C&G industry, 7-Eleven and Alimentation Couche-Tard/Circle K. MPC’s emphasis on continuing to expand its refining capacity, retail network and midstream assets, and its recent rejection of a stock market activist’s suggestion that the company spin off its retail subsidiary, further highlights the company’s belief in the economic benefits of operating a large and integrated retail marketing and refining organization. One has to wonder if the recent rumblings in the industry that Motiva, Shell Oil and BP are looking at potentially entering the M&A fray and considering the possibility of reacquiring strategic retail assets in certain geographic areas of the U.S. is being driven by this same thought process, or are these majors at least reconsidering an old paradigm? Chevron announced at its 2018 Retail Convention that it plans to double-down on retail, will not divest its retail assets, and its newly formed joint venture with Jacksons

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Global Partners LP Global Partners LP completed two transactions in 2018 that are another strong indication that the master limited partnership (MLP) has recovered from its disastrous economic performance in 2016, when Global had a net income loss of approximately $199 million. Global Partners is determined to continue to expand its company-operated retail chain and overall retail network in New England. It acquired 37 company-operated gas stations, 24 dealer or commission agent operated locations and 70 supply-only agreements from Champlain Oil Co., as well as nine company-operated locations from Cheshire Oil Co. All of the newly acquired company-operated sites are located in either New Hampshire or Vermont. These transactions increased its overall retail portfolio and geographic footprint in New England; directed additional motor fuel volume to its terminals in New York and Vermont; and expanded its economies of scale in the purchase of motor fuel and convenience store products. This last point is an especially important factor that is almost always noted as a key economic motivation driving any sizeable acquisition.

EG Group EG Group, a United Kingdom-based convenience store retailer, took many experts and established operators in the industry by surprise when the company won the bidding process for Kroger’s convenience store business unit that included 762 stores operating in 18 states for $2.15 billion. After closing on the Kroger transaction in April, EG Group announced in September that it was acquiring TravelCenters of America LLC’s (TA) Minit Mart business for approximately $330 million. The TA portfolio includes 225 retail sites and other related assets. These two acquisitions by EG Group highlight two important and continuing trends in the M&A market in the C&G industry: Attractive retail assets in the U.S. continue to draw a lot of interest from foreign-based buyers, and private equity firms still believe the fragmented convenience store industry in the U.S. is an opportunistic place to invest their limited capital. EG Group was formed in November 2016 when TDR Capital LLP facilitated the merger of the France- and Benelux-based European Forecourt Retail Group (EFR) and Euro Garages, which operated a large chain of convenience store sites in the UK. EG Group is now a portfolio


prepared Delivering the nuanced insights and proprietary shopper research needed to thrive in today’s CPG and Retail industries.



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company of TDR, a private equity firm headquartered in London. The firm has more than $8 billion (euro) in committed capital and specializes in investing in midsized companies in Europe. TDR made a sizeable investment at the start of 2016 in Euro Garages, with the goal of combining Euro Garages and EFR later in the year. TDR is providing the equity capital and support that EG Group will need to continue to expand in the U.S. and Europe.

Sunoco LP Sunoco LP announced in April that the MLP leased 207 company-operated sites in West Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma to a new company, Cal’s Convenience Inc., which is headed by a former vice president of retail operations for Sunoco LP and Stripes LLC, Jack Whitney. As part of the overall transaction, Cal’s also executed a master commission agent agreement and a sublicense to use the Stripes and Laredo Taco Company brands on a post-closing basis. From a market perspective, this transaction finalized Sunoco’s strategic decision to almost completely exit from the company-operated class of trade and refocus the MLP’s future M&A activity toward expanding its commission agent and dealer retail network, midstream storage assets, and wholesale and commercial business. In January 2018, Sunoco also completed the sale of 1,030 company-operated retail sites in 17 states to 7-Eleven for $3.3 billion. This new strategic focus by one of the most active M&A players in the industry was further highlighted when the MLP closed on the acquisition of Brenco Marketing Corp.’s assets in Texas on Oct. 16,, 2018. Sunoco acquired a wholesale distribution business that sells approximately 95 million gallons of motor fuel products to 260 dealer, commission agent and commercial customers and entered into an agreement to lease a bulk plant from the seller. It is interesting to note: Two MLPs that have been historically active in the M&A marketplace, and should continue to be in the future, are following somewhat different strategies when it comes to growing their retail networks. Global Partners is still looking to grow its company-operated network, while Sunoco has decided this class of trade no longer fits into its long-term strategic plans.

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Giant Eagle & Ricker Oil Co. In a move that certainly surprised most industry observers, Jay Ricker, chairman of Ricker Oil Co., announced in September 2018 that he had decided to sell his 56-unit chain in Indiana to Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based retailer that operates 410 supermarkets and convenience stores in five states. The announcement was so surprising because Jay Ricker was considered to be one of the most innovative operators in the industry and his family had operated the business for more than 39 years. However, as he noted in announcing the sale, when Giant Eagle approached him (and with an eye toward retirement), the offer made too much sense to turn down. Most importantly, from a market standpoint, this transaction shows proactive buyers that contacting even the best of operators, especially owners that are approaching retirement age, can persuade them to sell their business in a private or non-marketed sale process. Simply put, not every owner in the C&G industry is interested in selling their company via an investment bank-led bidding process, and many potential sellers realize the existing robust market multiples for assets cannot last forever. This is a theme we constantly mention to our clients when we discuss their desire to grow — i.e., companies can also grow and compete with the bigger M&A players by confidentially approaching their competitors and respectfully exploring the possibility of acquiring their business. As the industry heads into 2019, we still expect M&A activity within the sector to remain strong. We will all have to wait and see if the various headwinds on the horizon start to impact market multiples. CSN John C. Flippen Jr. and John Sartory are managing directors of Petroleum Capital and Real Estate LLC (PetroCapRE). PetroCapRE provides buy-side, sell-side, refinancing and capital restructuring services for clients exclusively in the downstream multi-site retail and wholesale petroleum industry. Since 2009, PetroCapRE (www.PetroCapRE.com) has assisted clients in completing transactions valued at more than $2.3 billion. Flippen and Sartory can be reached at jflippen@PetroCapRE.com and jsartory@PetroCapRE.com. Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

New Year ... New Look And Continued Evolution for

Industry’s Favorite Magazine has a new look that matches the evolution of the convenience retail market. Convenience Store News magazine has been the leader in convenience retailing information for more than 40 years. As the c-store industry has evolved, CSNews has changed to stay at the forefront of industry developments. With our January 2018 issue, we are excited to unveil the next step in that evolution with a fresh update to the look and feel of the magazine.



te Temperiasm Optim

d liers an rs, supp ing e retaile c m n o c ie n e e Conv about th ns. upbeat servatio tors are a few re distribu h it w year —



Car Wash Program

General Merchandise

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Lighter Leash


C-Store Postage Program

Age Verifier


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


Credit Card Processing / Merchant Services


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Air Vacs

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Credit Card Processing / Merchant Services


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Air Vacs

C-Store Recruiters

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Health and Beauty Care


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Air Vacs


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Age Verifier


For Sale


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Coffee and Tea Services







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Check Guarantee Services

Equipment / Supplies


Equipment / Supplies

Wholesale Refrigeration

ADINDEX Altria Group Distribution ..................................... 2-3, 39 Anheuser-Busch Inc. ............................................ 67 Aperion (a Hussmann company) ...................... 19, 35 BIC USA Inc. ............................................................. 31 Campbell Soup Company .................................. 7, 53 Cash Depot, Ltd. ..................................................... 18 Cookies United ........................................................ 23 E-Alternative Solutions ....................................... 13 Goya Foods, Inc. ..................................................... 29 GlaxoSmithKline ..................................................... 51 Home Market Foods ............................................. 25 Hussmann Corporation ....................................... 20 ImageWorks Display & Marketing..................... 21 John Middleton Company ................................. 27 JUUL Labs ................................................................. 49 Kretek International................................................ 63 Liggett Vector Brands ........................................ 59 Mondelez International ....................................... 45 Nestle Worldwide .................................................. 47 Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc................................... 15 Premier Manufacturing ....................................... 61 Reynolds American Trade Marketing Services ................................................. 9, 37, 43 Ruiz Foods Products Inc. ................................... 55 Swedish Match North America LLC ................. 5, 17, 41, 73, Back Cover Swisher International ........................................... 11 The Wonderful Company .................................... 65 Tyson Foods .............................................................. 57 Uline ............................................................................. 16 Universal Merchants ............................................... Outsert

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

Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W, Bryn Mawr Chicago, Il 60631. Copyright Š 2018 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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The Strengths & Weaknesses of C-stores Shopper research reveals the convenience channel needs a new value proposition The “convenience” business has never been more competitive. Today, almost every type of retail outlet — grocery store, drugstore, supercenter, e-commerce site — is seeking to make their shopping experience “convenient” for harried consumers. EIQ Research Solutions, sister company of Convenience Store News, surveyed convenience store shoppers to determine the strengths and weaknesses of varying store types, and understand what the convenience channel needs to do in order to compete and win against other retail types.

What do convenience stores do when convenience is no longer a differentiator? STORE TYPE PERFORMANCE CONVENIENCE



8.01 7.97 7.14 7.11 7.11 7.03 6.81 6.76 6.69 7.26

7.95 7.82 8.25 [-] 7.81 [-] 8.17 [-] 7.74 [-] 7.72 [-] 7.73 [-] 7.60 [-] 7.71 [-]

7.85 7.23 [+] 7.86 [-] 7.87 [-] 8.11 [-] 7.36 [-] 7.28 [-] 8.37 [-] 8.33 [-] 7.71 [-]

General convenience Trip speed Clean store Organization Product quality Friendly employees Helpful employees Product selection Price Overall satisfaction


7.83 [+] 7.54 [+] 6.88 [+] 7.01 6.77 [+] 7.20 6.87 7.07 [-] 8.38 [-] 7.43 [-]

KEY + Convenience store strength - Convenience store weakness Note: Mean scores on a 1-10 scale displayed

Key Takeaway Convenience stores no longer provide a more convenient shopping experience than drugstores or supercenters. If the convenience segment wants to be more than the right place at the right time, they must look for a new value proposition that shoppers will seek out.

Retail Alternatives If convenience was not an option, where would they go?

Who would go to convenience if ______ was not an option?

NET 15%

Dollar Drug Supercenter









Key Takeaway When given an option between three alternatives, supercenter is the preferred alternative if convenience is not available. However, there appears to be much more relative competition between convenience and dollar or drug.

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.

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Survey respondents sourced via ProdegeMR, reinventing the market research process by taking a respondent first approach. Visit prodegemr.com/ensembleiq for more info.

The survey was conducted among 1,002 convenience store shoppers in September 2018

Caetlyn Roberts Giant Food

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