WAWA, Pa. — Wawa Inc. plans to expand its footprint into the Florida Panhandle and adjacent markets in southern Alabama over the next few years, the convenience-store retailer has announced. The official move is the beginning of a new period of aggressive expansion with a goal of essentially doubling the chain’s store count.
The company operates more than 965 c-stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. The chain continues to open stores throughout its current markets, and Wawa is set to open 54 new stores in 2022, it said, surpassing the 1,000-store milestone.
Additionally, the chain has plans to enter new, adjacent markets in the next few years.
Wawa plans to nearly double its store count by 2030 to approximately 1,800 locations, CEO Chris Gheysens also told the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Wawa will “fill in the market” between Virginia and Florida along the I-95 corridor throughout the decade, Gheysens told the newspaper,
He characterized the plan as “the most aggressive growth” in the chain's history, saying the expansion will include “traditional” neighborhood stores and “nontraditional” rest stop-style formats in both existing and new markets. Some of the new locations will include drive-thrus, a format Wawa began testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, Wawa will mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of its first Florida store. The store opened July 18, 2012, in Orlando across from SeaWorld. Since then, Wawa has expanded rapidly throughout the state and will open its 250th store in Florida later this year. The company employs nearly 10,000 associates across the Sunshine State.
To “spread its wings,” Wawa is actively looking into potential sites for new stores in the Florida markets of Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee, along with Mobile, Ala. The company plans to open up to 40 stores in these markets, slating the first stores openings for 2024.
“Over the years, we’ve been delighted to hear from so many people from so many areas, who are interested in having a Wawa closer to home. We couldn’t be more excited to bring Wawa’s one-of-a-kind brand and offering to these new markets in the near future,” said John Poplawski, vice president of real estate for Wawa. “We look forward to expanding beyond our current reach and serving these new markets with our quality fresh food and beverages and, as always, our deep commitment to the communities in which we operate.”
- Wawa is No. 9 on CSP’s 2022 Top 40 Update to the 2021 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2022 Top 202 ranking in the June issue of CSP magazine and in CSP Daily News.
Wawa, a privately held company, began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th Century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, Pa., in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, and as home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George’s grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products, evolving into modern convenience stores.
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