Get a Leg Up on 2005 Trends

Outlook Leadership to feature early look at sales results and developments

SALT LAKE CITY -- In the first quarter of this year, per-store profits were up, gallons were up 1.0% and in-store sales were up 3.8%, according to CStoreXchange (CSX) LLC. However, some caution flags have surfaced as the performance benchmarking firm prepares to unveil its year-to-date data during August's Outlook Leadership 2005 (formerly Outlook Conference).

As part of a session titled Learn 2005's Operating Trends While You Can Still Impact Them, Dick Meyer and Dr. David Nelson of CSX will be joined by retailers Martin Smith, president of Elmer Smith [image-nocss] Oil Co., and Brad Chivington, senior vice president of marketing and sales for the Fas Mart and Shore Stop chains, to discuss 2005's year-to-date results and their chains' profit strategies.

The session will begin with Meyer, president of Meyer & Associates, and Nelson, founder and president of Study Groups, reviewing 2005 year-to-date sales, margin and profit trends vs. last year from CSX's aggregate data collected from more than 80 convenience store companies representing more than 3,000 stores. We'll talk about trends and dynamics that we interpret from our latest data, said Meyer. Hopefully the positive momentum we've seen in the first quarter will sustain or increase.

CSX's same-firm data allows users to examine monthly and year-to-date industry metrics online. Nelson and Meyer will analyze and interpret what these trends suggest, including: the impact of higher fuel prices on inside sales; major opportunities from studying volume and profits seasonality trends by month; and honing in on the success attributes of top-quartile profit performers. They'll also unveil how individual stores' data is now captured in CSX to help operators analyze their dawg and top-profit-performing stores.

When Smith and Chivington take the stage, they'll share their thoughts on the CSX data, interpreting the numbers and offering their feelings about 2005 trends, sharing their company's key challenges and opportunities in 2005, and explaining how their companies measure performance.

We're having a very good year, said Smith of his 12-store Domino Express chain based in Clinton, Okla. Being a smaller chain like we are, we can do some things that have a lot quicker impact than a larger chain. Growth in foodservice is a big, big driver of our profits this year. Smith said he's seen a 25% increase in foodservice sales and a 10% increase in the margin on those sales since the beginning of the year. Domino Express stores are in rural markets in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Chivington will elaborate on metrics used by the Fas Mart and Shore Stop chains to communicate with and rally their troops and improve their return on investment. The Mechanicsville, Va.-based chains operate a network of more than 200 convenience stores and independent dealers in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and North Carolina.

Online registration is now open for the invitation-only Outlook Leadership, Aug. 7-10, at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. More information is available by contacting Bryn Cotton at (800) 889-8377 or emailing him at [email protected]. The complete conference agenda can be found at