Five Barney's Becoming Circle Ks

Sale, conversions unrelated to chain's financial, supply problems

TOLEDO, Ohio -- The gasoline pumps were back on at most Barney's Convenience Marts in metro Toledo Tuesday, but there were continuing signs of the financial problems that have caused headaches for customers since early September, The Toledo Blade said in an update to a previous story. Nine of the chain's 35 stations, which sell BP brand gas, remained closed Tuesday or their phones went unanswered. Five others have been sold to the Circle K chain owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Laval, Quebec, said the report.

The five stations have dropped the Barney's name [image-nocss] and will become Circle K outlets, but will continue to sell BP-branded gasoline, Brian Koenig, regional director of operations at Circle K, told the newspaper.

He added that the sale, which was completed September 22, has been in the works for several weeks and was unrelated to financial problems at the Barney's chain that led to a halt in credit-card sales early this month and then, on Monday, suspension of fuel sales at most stations when supplies ran out.

"We plan on remodeling all of the stores in the near future," Koenig told the paper. Signs will be changed to Circle K by the end of the week, he said.

Circle K, which now has 44 stores in northwest Ohio, bought a station in Toledo, another in Waterville and three in Bowling Green.

Executives at J-F Enterprises Inc., Perrysburg, Ohio, which owns Barney's, have been unavailable for comment. J-F is a subsidiary of Armada Oil & Gas Co., Dearborn, Mich. Officials there were also unavailable for comment.

As part of efforts to restart gasoline sales, however, Armada Oil & Gas is no longer supplying the Toledo stations with gasoline, people familiar with the situation told the Blade.

Some 14 Barney's stations either ran out of gasoline or nearly ran out Monday as the owners tried to work through unspecified financial problems, the paper reported earlier this week. Most of them had gas Tuesday.

The problems at Barney's first came to light in early September when many Barney's stations in metro Toledo stopped accepting credit-card payments, the paper also reported earlier this week.