Casey’s Grants a Category Manager’s Wish

How a major c-store player has kept packaged-beverage sales growing by double digits

By 
Steve Holtz, Content Director, CSP & CSP Daily News

caseys cold vault

ANKENY, Iowa -- Ask a convenience-store cold-vault category manager for a wish list to help sell more beverages and nine out of 10 times the top response will be: Get me more cooler space.

Casey’s General Stores has made that wish a reality by adding more doors to its cold vault as it builds new stores or remodels older sites.

“Our newest store design puts emphasis on several areas of the business, one of which happens to be extra cooler capacity,” Bill Walljasper, senior vice president and chief financial officer, told PackBev E-News. New and remodeled stores “go from a nine cooler-door set to a 14 cooler-door set, which includes a beer cave.”

The additional space was added to new-construction plans during a best-practices review that followed an acquisition about six years ago.

More cold-vault space “seemed to do well for them, so it gave us some idea that perhaps this could be something that would work for us on a wider scale,” Walljasper said.

And sure enough, consumers responded. “We have seen double-digit beverage sales and beer sales growth in totality for some time now,” Walljasper said.

During its recent review of its second quarter, which ended Oct. 31, 2015, Casey's reported double-digit sales increases across nearly all major areas of its grocery and other merchandise category. "Packaged beverage ... sales continued their solid performance as we expand our cooler capacity throughout our store base and customers trade up to premium brands," chairman and CEO Robert Myers said.

Walljasper said the categories that get the extra space vary from store to store, but an experienced category manager can guess who the winners are: energy drinks, specialty beers, flavored juices and protein drinks.

“It runs the gamut. … It’s a wide variety of packaged beverages,” Walljasper said. “It really depends what resonates in a particular region.”

Based in Ankeny, Iowa, Casey’s is the leading independently owned convenience-store chain in the Midwest and one of the largest in the country. It owns and operates 1,904 stores in 14 states. In addition to gasoline, Casey’s stores offer a broad selection of products, including made-from-scratch pizza and doughnuts.

Part of CSP's 2015 Convenience Top 101 retailers
Steve Holtz By Steve Holtz, Content Director, CSP & CSP Daily News
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