Global convenience-store retailer EG Group believes there is a “clear opportunity” to continue to expand the Cumberland Farms brand in the United States, including for rebranding its other c-store flags, EG Group revealed in its first-quarter trading update. The opportunity also includes the continued rollout of Cumberland Farms’ coffee, private-label products and SmartPay technology “across EG’s broader U.S. network to create a strong U.S. identity,” the company said.
- EG America is No. 5 on CSP’s 2023 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of company-owned retail outlets.
Founded in 2001 as EuroGarages by co-CEOs Moshin and Zuber Issa, Blackburn, U.K.-based EG Group is a c-store operator and fuel retailer with more than 6,200 sites across the United Kingdom and Ireland, Europe, the United States and Australia.
EG Group established itself in the United States in 2018 as EG America by acquiring Kroger’s 762-site c-store network. It acquired TravelCenters of America’s Minit Mart c-store business for approximately $330.8 million in 2018. The portfolio included 225 c-stores. And in 2019, among other acquisitions, EG Group acquired Cumberland Farms and its nearly 660 c-stores in the Northeast and Florida, and EG America now has its headquarters in Westborough, Mass. With more than 1,750 sites across 33 states, U.S. c-store brands include Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf N’ Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Sprint Food Stores, Tom Thumb and Turkey Hill.
Cumberland Farms’ private-label Farmhouse Blend coffee is a mild blend made from 100% Arabica beans. Customers can customize their hot or iced coffee with a free flavor shot at the Flavor Station. Other varieties include the proprietary Colombian Supremo. In addition, there is the Farmhouse bold, hot or iced, and a Farmhouse decaffeinated coffee. Next-generation stores also offer coffee drinks including cappuccinos, espressos and lattes.
- Read CSP’s 20 Great Coffee Programs for 2023.
The chain’s SmartPay Rewards members automatically save 10 cents on every gallon of fuel, every day. The program has surpassed $5 billion in fuel sales since its launch in 2013 and has saved members $200 million, the company said in 2022.
Asda and More
In 2021, the Issas and London-based TDR Capital acquired Asda Walmart’s U.K. supermarket business. In May, EG Group sold most of its U.K. and Ireland (UK&I) fuel, foodservice, grocery and merchandise business to Asda for $2.82 billion.
“The sale of EG UK&I to Asda is an important step for the Group and provides a platform to further invest across our diverse international portfolio, where we continue to see compelling opportunities to accelerate our proven and successful strategy to rollout foodservice, and grocery and merchandise to create multi-purpose convenience retail sites across our estate,” said Zuber Issa, co-founder and co-CEO of EG Group. “We also have a significant near-term opportunity to deploy emerging fuels and EV chargers, across the existing site network and third-party locations.”
In March, EG Group agreed to the sale and leaseback on a portfolio of its sites on the U.S. East Coast to real estate investment firm Realty Income Corp. for approximately $1.5 billion. This portfolio, which EG America will continue to operate and trade, consists of 415 convenience stores under the Cumberland Farms, Fastrac, Tom Thumb and Sprint banners. EG Group will pay an initial rent of $103 million per year with respect to these assets.
San Diego-based Realty Income is structured as a real estate investment trust (REIT), and its monthly dividends are supported by the cash flow from more than 12,200 properties owned under long-term net lease agreements with commercial clients.
In May, laying out an initial nearly $73 million, Realty Income began acquiring the Cumberland Farms properties in central Massachusetts as part of the deal. And in June, it acquired 17 stores in Rhode Island and seven more in Massachusetts for a combined $120 million.
“The Group has now delivered a combination of strategic actions, including the U.S. sale and leaseback transaction … that will enable us to significantly reduce our overall leverage to below five times, in line with our financial policy and deleveraging strategy. We will now be addressing our upcoming maturities, including a three-year ‘amend and extend’ of our term loans, which will help us to put in place a sustainable long-term capital structure. We remain committed to achieving a net leverage multiple of mid-four times in the near term,” Zuber Issa said.
“We will further optimize our real estate by identifying new markets—evaluating store locations for expansion through improved foodservice offerings; investment in new sites; entry into alternative fuels; and continuing to review non-core assets for divestment,” the company said.
EG Group intends to maintain its scale worldwide. “We will remain the third-largest global independent fuel convenience retailer; the second-biggest independent operator in Europe; fourth-largest independent in the U.S.—with around 1,700 stores across 30 states; and we will maintain [approximately] 10% market share in Australia,” the company said.
It also intends to accelerate the rollout of its electric-vehicle charging proposition, the proprietary evpoint brand, throughout its global portfolio. “Across all markets, the evolution to alternative fuels presents a major opportunity for the Group, with EG’s large site network offering a unique base from which to build a leading rapid charging network,” said the company. It has identified nearly 4,000 potential high-traffic sites for ultra-rapid charging that enough parking spaces and foodservice or grocery offerings.
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