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TA Anxious to Develop Minit Mart This Summer

Rebranding just the beginning of 'building that business'

WESTLAKE, Ohio --TravelCenters of America has invested $750 million into developing and growing a convenience-store brand in the past five years. And with 215 of its 228 convenience stores now updated, CEO Tom O'Brien says the job of making the company's c-store arm flourish has just begun.

"The gasoline branding and the Minit Mart branding elements will largely be completed by the end of the second quarter for all of those stores," O'Brien said during a first-quarter earnings report on Monday. "I don't want to give the impression that that is the last step; in fact, that is sort of the first step. We've got to have the right brand, the right gasoline brand, and then we start to build the business."

TA began building a c-store presence in 2011 and has since purchased 228 stores in 11 states.

"As of today, we have completed gasoline rebranding or updating at 215 of our 228 stand-alone convenience stores," O'Brien said. "We also converted 48 stand-alone convenience sites to the Minit Mart brand during this quarter. And as of today, we have approximately 211 stand-alone convenience stores flagged with our Minit Mart brand."

In addition, the company has added 14 quick-service restaurants to its c-stores, including seven Godfather's Pizza, two Charleys Philly Steaks, two Burger Kings, a Dairy Queen, Popeyes and Dunkin' Donuts.

The acquisitions and upgrades made since the acquisition program began in 2011 have totaled approximately $750 million.

"For the 12 months ended March 31, these sites generated combined site level contribution of $69.5 million," O'Brien said. And he expects that contribution to grow.

After a sale and rebranding, "building that business back takes a little time, and actually, I'm pretty happy that we are going to be able to [do that as we face] the summer driving season from here forward."

TA's nationwide business includes travel centers located in 43 U.S. states and in Canada. TA's convenience stores operate principally under the Minit Mart brand name and offer gasoline fueling and nonfuel products and services such as coffee, groceries, fresh food offerings and other convenience items.

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