Florida Proves Faster for Wawa

Expansion accomplished "more quickly," "easier" in Sunshine State, says CEO

Wawa Florida

TAMPA, Fla. -- Wawa Inc. CEO Chris Gheysens said that Florida builds are faster than those in its traditional territory in the Northeast. "We've made progress more quickly than we thought," he told The Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Since it entered the Florida market in July 2012, the Wawa, Pa.-based convenience retailer has opened 33 stores, more than half of that in the Orlando area, according to the report.

Between the Orlando and Tampa Bay markets, Wawa planned to open 25 stores in 2013, 25 stores in 2014 and 25 stores in 2015, and it projected that it will open 100 stores in the state within the next five years.

It has opened 10 stores in the Tampa area and shows no signs of slowing, said the report, and 12 of the 25 next year will be in the greater Tampa area, concentrated along the U.S. Route 301 corridor, it said.

Wawa has more than 600 convenience retail stores (approximately 300 offering gasoline) located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and central Florida.

The Sunshine State is a "critical and important part" of Wawa's growth, Gheysens said.

The boost in the area is based on demand, with people saying they want more Wawas on their way to work, as well as availability of space, he added.

"I've really come to appreciate Florida as I've been there, not as a vacationer but as a businessperson," Gheysens said. "One of the things we loved about Florida was the process was quicker. It's easier than in the Northeast. It takes at best three years from when we buy a piece of land to when we can start construction" in the Northeast, he said. "That's measured in months in Florida."