CHICAGO — Convenience-store retailers admit the COVID-19 pandemic slowed some growth efforts in 2020 but certainly not all.
Here’s a look at five of the biggest movers in CSP’s 2021 Top 202 list of the largest chains in the United States, and the variety of growth strategies they took to remain active in acquisitions and new store construction ...
7-Eleven: Holding on to No. 1
Headquarters: Irving, Texas
Behind the Growth: 7-Eleven in August 2020 entered into an agreement to acquire Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s company-owned convenience-store network Speedway LLC for $21 billion. The deal came after 7-Eleven dropped an earlier bid for Speedway during the pandemic and before Marathon returned to the negotiating table in June 2020.
7-Eleven ultimately won the Speedway stores, taking the opportunity to acquire them out from under Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Laval, Quebec, according to reports. Other bidders included EG Group, Blackburn, U.K., and Murphy USA, El Dorado, Ark., as well as London-based private equity firm TDR Capital, reports say. The deal closed in May.
Wawa: Trying something new
Headquarters: Wawa, Pa.
Behind the Growth: Wawa grew by 37 locations to hold its rank at No. 10. The company grew organically with new stores rather than M&A activity, and 2020 marked a departure from Wawa’s typical store builds.
The Wawa, Pa.-based chain built its first drive-thru-only store. Opened in January, the store took only nine months to go from concept to reality. While the company was forced to close its flagship store in August 2020, it still managed to grow and innovate despite the setback.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores: New-build focused
Headquarters: Oklahoma City
Behind the Growth: Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores opened 38 new locations and added more than 3,000 truck parking spaces in 2020.
The chain announced plans in January to add up to 50 more stores and more than 3,000 truck parking spots to its network this year. Love’s also plans to open more than 30 Love’s Truck Care and Speedco locations in 2021, growing its oil-change and preventative-maintenance network.
United Pacific: Independent acquirer
Headquarters: Long Beach, Calif.
Behind the Growth: In July 2020, United Pacific acquired 95 retail locations from Platinum Energy, most of them in Southern California. The acquisition helped bring United Pacific’s owned and operated store count to 451 by Jan. 1.
United Pacific has established itself as a major independent owner, operator and supplier of gas stations and c-stores in the western United States. It offers motor fuel products under the 76, Conoco, Phillips 66, Shell and United Oil flags and convenience items through the We Got It! Food Mart, My Goods Market, Circle K and new Rocket brands.
Tri Star Energy: Filling in markets
Behind the Growth: Tri Star, doing business as Twice Daily, expanded its presence in central Tennessee with its purchase of Hollingsworth Oil Co. in March 2020. The acquisition included 53 Sudden Service retail stores. Tri Star divested two of the sites after a ruling by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Raymond James & Associates Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla., served as investment banking adviser to the seller.