LEWISTON, Maine — With the opening of its first Nouria-branded convenience store, Nouria Energy Corp. is putting a stake in the ground for its brand. The company, which owns and operates 137 c-stores and operates 116 of them in five Northeast states, has had most of its stores under the more conventional Lil’ Mart brand for 30 years. Its new concept store, which opened in November 2018 in Lewiston, Maine, puts the Nouria name front and center.
“The store is the first of its kind in the company, featuring Maine’s favorite fuel brand, Irving fuel, with 16 fueling stations and the newly designed company brands: Nouria and Cafe Nouria,” Joe Hamza, chief operating officer of retail and marketing for Nouria Energy, Worchester, Mass., tells CSP.
The 6,000-square-foot store occupies a nearly 2-acre lot at a major intersection in Lewiston, nestled between Lewiston High School and Bates College. The site includes “unique brand architecture [and] eye-catching artwork [that] reflects our quest to appeal to younger adults and female consumers,” Hamza says.
The in-store design and color scheme include local community-inspired graphics, with a concentration of products relevant to the area. This includes a variety of fresh, healthy foods and new-age beverages.
“Our strategy is to customize our offerings based on the location and the market,” Hamza says. “This is a neighborhood store. It caters to the local community, commuters and local schools and hospitals in the surrounding area.”
In Lewiston, that means high-quality, all-natural meats and poultry; a wide assortment of fresh vegetables; and artisan bread, rolls and desserts baked fresh in-store daily.
Meanwhile, a new foodservice brand, Cafe Nouria, features full-service hot coffee, espresso drinks, iced coffee and a wide variety of pastries, parfaits, fruit cups and breakfast sandwiches, all served in-store or via a drive-thru. The cafe area includes 26 seats near the front windows, providing customers a place to relax and enjoy their meals. And in a callout to the region, the store serves Italian sandwiches, pizza and salads under the Amato’s brand, which Hamza says is “the most sought-after Italian food brand in New England.”
“The store’s entire fresh-food offering is designed to provide customers with a one-stop shopping experience that offers them options for grab-and-go foods, snacks and beverages and all of the essentials for creating healthy, fresh take-home meals,” he says.
On the Grow
The new store, which features new company logos, also sets a tone for how Nouria Energy intends to grow.
“Our company has grown to the size it is today mostly through successful acquisitions over the nearly 30 years of its existence,” Hamza says. “We continue to participate in acquisition opportunities where it makes sense for us in a fiscally responsible way. We have the desire and resources to continue to aggressively acquire assets that fit our standards and our long-term growth strategy.”
While the company plans to upgrade and rebrand all of its 118 Lil’ Mart locations over the next three years, don’t expect future remodels to be identical to this Lewiston site.
“The store’s entire fresh-food offering is designed to provide customers with a one-stop shopping experience.”
The new Nouria brand “represents a new positioning strategy for our company,” Hamza says. “This is a critical step in our evolution as a vibrant and relevant retail brand because consumers’ wants, needs and shopping habits are changing. Given the geographic disparity of our locations, we have a keen appreciation for the uniqueness of each of those markets and understand that consumer shopping needs are not homogenous. By effectively implementing this strategy, we believe that the Nouria brand can be viewed as uniquely differentiated and more consumer-relevant.”
Size: 6,000 square feet
Address: 449 Sabattus St., Lewiston, Maine
Fueling spots: 16
Opened: November 2018
- New store branding
- Cafe Nouria concept
- Amato’s partnership
- Community influence