Kum & Go Buying Cody's

Deal includes 37 Southwest Missouri stores; Billings Kum & Gos becoming Zip Trips

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kum & Go LC has signed an agreement to purchase 37 Cody's Convenience Stores in southwest Missouri. Cody's is currently operated by Springfield, Mo.-based Cody Ventures LLC. The closing is subject to completion of due diligence and customary closing conditions. Kum & Go anticipates that the closing will take place within the next month.

Cody's president and CEO Curtis Jared, who would not disclose the deal's price tag, told CSP Daily News, "This past summer, we were approached by someone, and we decided to at least listen, and it [image-nocss] wasn't a bad offer, so we thought we'd see what else was out there. We talked to a couple others that didn't pan out, and after talking to Kum & Go, we thought we could make a deal that worked out favorably for both of us. We saw a good opportunity, and we took it."

As reported yesterday in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterday, the pending deal will make Kum & Go the largest convenience stores operator in southwest Missouri. Kum & Go's current portfolio includes 34 stores in southwestern Missouri. And the company is in "growth mode," Meggan Kring, Kum & Go spokesperson, told CSP Daily News.

Cody's currently has locations in Battlefield, Bolivar, Clever, Fair Grove, Hollister, Joplin, Monett, Neosho, Nixa, Republic, Rogersville, Springfield, Waynesville, and Webb City, Mo. In addition to the 37 c-stores, Kum & Go will also assume ownership of Cody's eight car washes.

"We have identified Springfield and surrounding communities as a market where we expect to grow," said Kring. "In fact, we have several new Kum & Go stores planned to be built in 2009. So, when approached by Cody's, it made absolute sense for us to consider the acquisition. Springfield has a community and customer base that has been good for Kum & Go, so we look forward to growing our presence there. This purchase will solidify Kum & Go as the No. 1 c-store player in Springfield."

As long as the due diligence process moves forward as expected, the retailer will rebrand all of the Cody's stores to Kum & Go sometime in March 2009, she added.

"Southwest Missouri is a great place to expand and bring the latest store conveniences Kum & Go has to offer," Kyle Krause, Kum & Go president and CEO, said in a press statement. "We look forward to building upon the excellent relationship the Jared family has developed with Springfield, Joplin and surrounding communities."

Jared said he and the company will focus on real estate development. He added that Jared Enterprises is retaining the real estate. Kum & Go is buying the business. Jared Enterprises develops and leases out commercial properties such as office buildings, big-box centers and strip malls.

"This business transaction is a win for Southwest Missouri. In today's uncertain economy, our community and associates will benefit from Kum & Go's strong position in the convenience retail market. Their fifty years in business speaks volumes. We wish Kum & Go the best and look forward to working with them on future real estate transactions," Jared said in the press statement.

Cody's has recently been in acquisition mode. It acquired nine Snak Atak stores in the Joplin, Mo., in April 2008 (click here for coverage) and six Express Lane stores from Waddill's Markets Inc. in January 2008 (click here for coverage). At that time, Jared said the company planned to eventually have a Cody's in every town in southwest Missouri. It also had several stores under construction or in the planning stages.

Kring also said that the company is "always looking for opportunities, whether it is one or several hundred stores. We are fortunate to be in position financially were we have the ability to move if an opportunity presents itself. All eyes are open."

In other company news, all eight Kum & Go stores in Billings, Mont., will become Cenex Zip Trip stores, reported The Billings Gazette.

The Billings stores and 35 others owned by Cenex Harvest States, St. Paul, Minn., were being managed by Kum & Go. Last March, CHS purchased 33 Zip Trip stores in the Spokane, Wash., area, and the company is adopting the Cenex Zip Trip name for most of its stores. The purchase price for Zip Trip was not disclosed.

Starting April 1, CHS will begin managing 30 of the 43 Kum & Go stores in Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota and will change the names and facades. "It will allow us to work more closely with employees and to deliver more on the Cenex Zip Trip brands," Ann Mann, CHS director of energy advertising and communications, told the newspaper.

There are 24 Cenex stores in Montana, including the eight in Billings. Cenex operates five other Billings stores that will not be part of this name change, said the report. Cenex runs 1,600 retail operations nationwide, including 800 c-stores.

This is the second major change in the Billings market in a week. All 11 Kwik Way Inc. c-stores there have closed. Some of the locations will reopen under other brand names, including two that will become 3-G convenience stores and one that will become a Cono-Mart Superstore. Talks are ongoing to have some other Kwik Way stores to reopen as Cono-Marts. (Click here for coverage.)

Family-owned Kum & Go, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, has more than 400 c-stores in 12 states (Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming and Wisconsin). The chain provides customers a proprietary mix of products under the Hiland brand name. Other proprietary product offerings include Java Ridge Premium Coffee, Napa Creek and Sea Ridge wines, Go Fresh Market sandwiches, Nuclear energy drinks and Nutri2O nutraceutical waters.