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Thorntons' Florida Foray Commences

Retailer joins Wawa, 7-Eleven, Circle K in new Sunshine State assault (slideshow)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With plans to add 15 to 20 stores in the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater area during the next three years, independent gasoline and convenience retailer Thorntons Inc. opened its first Florida location in Clearwater earlier this week.

Ahead of the 5:00 a.m. Tuesday opening, the company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday evening, attended by members of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce; the Clearwater High School Jazz Band; Tony Harris, COO of Thorntons; and official Thorntons mascots Champ and Phil UP. Radio station 93.3 FLZ was also on hand for the festivities.

(See the grand opening slideshow below.)

In April, the company said that it would open its first Florida store in early 2013, but later moved up the date.

A Largo store is slated to open Dec. 30, company spokesperson Erin Jones told The Largo Patch.

"Our goal is to have six stores open by the end of this year or early next year," John Zikias, senior vice president of supply chain and category management with Thorntons, Louisville, Ky., told The Tampa Bay Times in August.

Each store will be open 24 hours a day. The company plans to hire several hundred people in the coming months.

Initially, three grades of gasoline as well as diesel fuel will be available at Thorntons. E85, an environmentally friendly alternative fuel for FlexFuel vehicles, will not be immediately available until the logistics of its delivery are worked out.

In the store, visitors can pick up a wide variety of products including groceries and beverages, fresh food, baked goods, money orders, gift cards and lottery tickets.

This is the company's first foray into a new region since 2007. With this expansion, the Thorntons brand will now be available in six states: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Thorntons joins Wawa, 7-Eleven and Circle K in their recent expansion in the Sunshine State.

With more than $2.3 billion in revenue, Thorntons is the largest privately held corporation in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Based in Louisville, Ky., it operates 165 locations. Thorntons distributes its petroleum products through its wholly owned Thornton Transportation Co. and operates a river bulk storage terminal in Louisville.

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