QuikTrip's Not-So-Secret Weapon

New-era chain steps up retail game as it shrugs off fuel-demand declines

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

Kelly Kurt, Freelance writer

QuikTrip Generation 3

Editor’s Note: The July issue of CSP Magazine tackles the growing problem of the decline in gasoline demand and the issues it’s causing retailers. This is the first of two online looks at how retailers are coping.

TULSA, Okla. -- When you’re one of the industry’s highest-volume fuel retailers, you are largely insulated from the overall decline in gasoline demand. It’s a privileged position, but for QuikTrip Corp., that doesn’t mean you rest on your laurels.

“Fortunately for QuikTrip, no matter how you measure it by store or by marketplace, our volumes are up, our volumes are growing,” Mike Thornbrugh, spokesperson for the 700-store chain based in Tulsa, Okla., told CSP Daily News. “Most people in the business, their volumes are down. We think that the Generation 3 [store design] has an awful lot to do with that.”

QuikTrip’s Generation 3 format, which debuted in 2011, is designed to churn inside and outside sales—in particular, by helping customers get in and out of the store, and on and off its high-volume lot. The store features four entrances—two in the front and two on the side—and is more than 40% larger than the previous format. It also features bigger lots with 16 to 20 MPDs.

“We believed that if we didn’t make it easier for the customer to get in and get out and expand everything, our business would not grow in regards to motor fuels,” said Thornbrugh. “[Generation 3] really opened up the lot for ingress and egress. It’s just much easier now to traverse the lot.”

Of its 700 stores, more than 130 are Generation 3 models. QuikTrip plans to slowly and methodically replace many of its original stores over time—or “scrape and rebuild”—with the Generation 3 format.

While not all stores will become Generation 3, they all will have its trademark full-service foodservice counter, another area QuikTrip is focusing on to fortify its business model.

“We think we’re pretty good at selling gasoline and diesel and other convenience-store items. We think at some point we’re going to be really pretty good at the fresh-food side of the business,” said Thornbrugh. “That’s where the growth is in our opinion.

“We’re not abandoning what we do, but there’s no question our commitment to our fresh-food side of the business is phenomenal,” he continued. “That’s why you are seeing tremendous investments on the new designs, new locations, remodels and, most importantly to us, is people.”

Meanwhile, QuikTrip’s fuel pricing and offer has not changed, but instead continues to follow a high-volume, low-margin blueprint engineered to steal market share. “There’s only going to be X amount of gallons sold out there,” said Thornbrugh. “We think we’re capturing the marketplace from somebody.”

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers