Powered by CSPedia, the c-store industry’s online business intelligence database, CSP’s editors ranked the largest c-store chains by store count—owned/operated and franchised locations—in the United States and Canada.
But we didn’t stop at store counts. We also tapped CSPedia to recognize some of the industry’s most fascinating leaders in the retail arts: foodservice, green operations, social-media marketing, employee-focused, family-operated and more. Welcome to the c-store yearbook for 2014.
No surprise here: 7-Eleven Inc. is at the top of the CSP Top 101 list, followed by Alimentation Couche-Tard and CST Brands. (For more on CST, see CSP’s exclusive cover story on the newly spun-off retail chain.)
Expect the big to get bigger. According to Dennis Ruben, executive managing director of Chicago-based NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC, large players such as 7-Eleven and Couche-Tard have been relatively quiet in 2013 but are looking to grow.
While execs from Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. declined comment on 2014 growth plans, company spokesperson Margaret Chabris shared the following with CSP: “7-Eleven Inc. plans to continue adding stores in the U.S. in 2014 through organic and acquisition growth with a disciplined approach designed to take advantage of opportunities we find.”
Another area of activity: retailers connected to master limited partnerships (MLP) such as Susser Petroleum Partners, Lehigh Gas Partners LP and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) LP. Indeed, in November 2013, Susser picked up nearly 70 sites in Texas, while ETP grabbed Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores’ 300-site network.
And following longer-term trends, major oil has shrugged off its retail ties while refi ner-marketers such as Marathon Petroleum and Valero are poised for a growth spurt. “I think they’ll maybe really ramp up again,” Ruben says of the latter.
“Over the three-year period of 2014 through 2016, Speedway currently plans to add approximately 60 to 65 new-build or rebuild stores each year, with the majority being new-build stores,” Speedway president Tony Kenney told CSP. “On average, Speedway plans to invest more than $300 million per year in capital expenditures over that same three-year time period.” There is no ideal mix of acquisitions vs. new builds, he says; it instead depends upon the value the investment would bring. “Our capital is focused on organic projects in our existing and new contiguous markets. We will always look at high-quality, opportunistic acquisitions.”
Beyond the Top 101 ranking, which tapers off with companies in the range of about 60 to 70 stores, Ruben expects a great deal of M&A activity among midsize operators. “These are generational companies,” he points out, with retirements for company elders looming in the distance. “Smaller guys have a harder and harder time competing with some of the bigger players.”
Hot spots in the industry’s growth geography: Florida, Texas and a “ridiculous level of interest in California,” says Ruben, with astronomical prices and multiples making those stores more valuable.
CSP confirmed site counts for the entire Top 101 just before going to press, but of course the numbers are always in flux. Case in point: Several acquisitions took place as we were finalizing the list. They include:
- Western Refining: +237 (Northern Tier Energy/SuperAmerica)
- Susser Holdings (Stripes): +67 (Sac-NPac Stores Inc.)
- Alimentation Couche-Tard: +36 (Albuquerque Convenience & Retail, Publix)
- TravelCenters of America: +31 (Minit Mart LLC)
See Page 2 for the complete 101 list.
Download a pdf of the complete story below for numerous lists and details of the Top 101.
The Convenience Top 101: The List
The following ranking of the Top 101 Chains reflects combined company-operated and franchised store counts in the United States and Canada as of Nov. 15, 2013. It does not include licensed or dealer locations.
|Rank||Chain||No. of Stores||Notes|
1,170 company-ops; 6,808 U.S. & Canada franchised sites; does not include 580 U.S. licensed locations
Alimentation Couche-Tard --North America
|5,700||dba Mac's, Circle K|
|3||CST Brands Inc. (Valero)||1,883||San Antonio-based CST plans to build 30 sites in 2014.|
|4||Casey's General Stores||1,759||Casey's plans to grow store units by 70 or more in the 2014 fiscal year, with about a 50/50 split among new builds and acquisitions.|
|5||The Pantry||1,559||dba Kangaroo Express|
|6||Speedway LLC||1,470||Last year, Speedway added 17 sites to its portfolio, and it has considered the Southeast as a major growth area.|
For sale: Big acquirers are eyeing Hess’ retail network, which now includes 391 sites from Wilco-Hess LLC, a joint partnership Hess formed with A.T. Williams Oil in 2001 and of which the oil company recently acquired total ownership to make its downstream more attractive for divestiture.
|8||Murphy USA Inc.||1,184|
The El Dorado, Ark.-based spinoff plans to open 200 more sites on Walmart lots in the Midwest and Southeast.
|9||BP America||950||dba ampm; 100% franchised|
|10||Kroger Co., Convenience Division||784|
|11||Suncor Energy Inc.||759||dba Petro-Canada|
|12||Chevron Corp.||720||dba ExtraMile, Caltex; 300 company-ops; 390 franchised|
|13||Pilot Flying J||690||585 company-ops; 105 franchised|
|14||QuikTrip Corp. (QT)||678|
|15||Sunoco Inc.||650||437 company-ops; 451 franchised|
|17||Susser Holdings Corp.||622||dba Stripes; includes Sac-N-Pac acquisition|
|20||Husky Energy Inc.||500||350 company-ops; 150 franchised|
|22||Holiday Stationstores||493||341 company-ops; 152 franchised|
|23||GPM Investments & GPM Southeast||470||dba Fas Mart, Shore Stop, et al.|
|25||Western Refining Inc./Norther Tier Energy||458||384 company-ops; 74 franchised|
|26||Kwik Trip Inc.||440|
|27||Kum & Go LC||427|
|28||Delek US Holdings Inc. (Mapco)||370|
|29||RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.||365|
|31||Convenient Food Mart (CFM Development Corp.)||325|
|32||Allsup's Convenience Stores Inc.||319|
|33||Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores||307|
|34||Pioneer Energy LP||305||100% franchised|
|35||E-Z Mart Stores||293|
|36||Kwik Fill/Red Apple, Smokers Outlet||288|
|37||Alon Brands Retail||286|
|39 (tie)||CEFCO Convenience Stores||248|
|39 (tie)||Travelcenters of America (TA-Petro)||248|
|41||Pacific Convenience & Fuels LLC (PC&F)||236|
|43||Sunshine Gasoline Distributors||225||180 company-ops; 45 franchised|
|44||Hasty Market Corp.||210|
|45||Jacksons Food Stores (Jackson Oil)||203|
|46||Giant Eagle Inc.||198||dba GetGo|
|47||Tedeschi Food Shops||188||106 company-ops, 82 franchised|
|48||United Dairy Farmers Inc.||184|
|49||Meijer Gas Stations||182|
|50||Lehigh Gas Corp. (Topper Petroleum Inc.)||181|
|53||Flash Foods Inc. (The Jones Co.)||172|
|54||VPS Convenience Store Group||167|
|56||Drake Petroleum Co.||146||dba Xtra Mart|
|57||G&M Oil Co.||145|
|59||United Oil co.||125|
|60 (tie)||Englefield Oil Co.||124|
|60 (tie)||Vintners Distributors Inc.||124|
|62||Alliance Energy Inc.||120|
|63||Quality Oil Co. LLC||116||45 company-ops, 52 franchised|
|64||Martin & Bayley Inc.||113||dba Huck's|
|65||7-Eleven Stores of Oklahoma||111|
|66||truenorth energy llc||110|
|67||Go Mart Inc.||109|
|69 (tie)||GasMart USA||107|
|69 (tie)||Plaid Pantries Inc.||107|
|71||Blarney Castle Oil Co.||105|
|73||Spartan Stores Inc.||103||dba Quick Stop|
|74||ARS West LLC (American Retail Services)||102|
|75||Terrible Herbst Oil Co.||100|
|76||Little General Stores Inc.||98|
|77 (tie)||Anabi Oil||93|
|77 (tie)||Town Pump Inc.||93|
|79||Mountain Empire Oil Co.||92||dba Roadrunner|
|80||Flash Market Inc.||91|
|81||Petroleum Wholesale Inc.||88|
|82||E&C Enterprises Inc. (Petroleum Marketing Group)||87|
|83 (tie)||Gasamat Oil Corp (Snoker Friendly)||86|
|83 (tie)||Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes||86|
|83 (tie)||Petroleum Marketers||86||dba Stop In Food Stores|
|86||Family Fare Inc.||84|
|87||Nouria Energy Corp.||83|
|88 (tie)||First Coast Energy LLP||82|
|88 (tie)||Victory Marketing LLC||82||dba Sprint Mart|
|91 (tie)||C.N. Brown Co.||80|
|91 (tie)||Certified Oil||80|
|91 (tie)||MNS Ltd.||80||dba ABC Stores|
|94||Buchanan Energy Co.||79||dba Bucky's|
|95||MFA Oil Co.||78|
|96||Gate Petroleum Co.||75|
|97 (tie)||FKG Oil Co.||73||dba Moto Mart|
|97 (tie)||The Spinx Cos.||73|
|99 (tie)||Sampson-Bladen Oil Co.||72|
|99 (tie)||Toot'n Totum Food Stores LLP||72|
|101 (tie)||Country Fair||71|
|101 (tie)||Dandy Mini Mart||71|
|101 (tie)||Road Ranger||71|
Up Next: Market Share by Fuel Brand
The Convenience Top 101: Market Share by Fuel Brand
Major oil may have shuttered most of its company-ops, but the names are still the biggest brands in fuel. According to figures from OPIS for the year ending Nov. 15, 2013, the top four by share of fuel volume are led by Shell Oil Products U.S. Source: OPIS
Who is the most popular in the c-store industry? Based on searches of CSPedia from Jan. 1, 2013, through Nov. 24, 2013, here are our most popular peeps:
Top 3 Most Searched Companies
Top 3 Most Viewed Company Records
Top 3 Most Searched People
Top 5 Licensors
|2||Alimentation Couche-Tard (Mac's, Circle K)||1,208|
|4||Gasamat Oil Corp. (Smoker Friendly)||769|
|5||Clark Brands LLC||450|
Top 5 Franchisors
|Franchisor (U.S. & Canada)||Franchised locations|
|3||BP America (ampm)||950|
|5||Chevron Corp. (ExtraMile, Caltex)||330|
Up Next: The 'Greenovators'
The Convenience Top 101: 'Greenovators'
Whether building green, offering alternative fuels and/or revving up recycling, many c-store retailers are cleaning up their communities. Here are some of the most notable industry “greenovators.”
Kwik Trip Inc.
It’s full steam ahead for this LaCrosse, Wis.-based chain, a pioneer in retailing compressed natural gas (CNG). Joel Hirschboeck, alternative fuels superintendent for Kwik Trip, says the company is ready to add eight to 10 more CNG fueling sites to its 439-store network in 2014 after finishing 2013 with 26 total locations.
“We started looking at it holistically from a commercial-fuels perspective, where it makes sense,” he says. “We want to cover our operating footprint with the right locations to make sense for fleet activity. What are we focused on for 2014? Where are the gaps in coverage? Where do we expand the footprint a little and get improvement in coverage?
“It’s an extremely exciting industry to be a part of: late-breaking news about new technology, advancements, fleets converting over, who’s getting into the business.”
Kum & Go
This West Des Moines, Iowa-based operator of 427 sites is known as a leader in LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building standard. The chain has committed to building all new sites as candidates for LEED certification, with 66 certified locations so far and 16 under construction. Seven of the sites are gold LEED certified, the second-highest level achievable, with 34 certified silver.
According to Adam Hammes, Kum & Go sustainability manager, such green initiatives are “all about playing a positive role in the community. It’s part of the brand and who we are. We are committed tobeing a good neighbor.”
Beyond LEED, Kum & Go is expanding its alternative-fuels offer with two CNG sites in 2014 and is evaluating locations for Level III electric-vehicle charging stations.
“I want to be where I can make a difference,” Hammes says. “The best way to make a change is [to provide] an example to follow.”
Other Notable ‘Greenovators’:
- Thorntons Inc. Besides being a longtime retailer of E85, this Louisville, Ky.-based Top 101 chain is a past winner of CSP’s Environmental Stewardship award thanks to its LED canopy and cooler lighting, recycling receptacles and green cleaning products.
- United Oil Co. In 2012, this Gardena, Calif.-based c-store operator and fuel distributor for Valero, ConocoPhillips and Shell installed solar panels on the canopy of its Cerritos, Calif., site. The Panasonic HIT Double panels are expected to supply 75% of the store and pumps’ annual energy demand.
Up Next: Foodservice Leaders
The Convenience Top 101: Foodservice
Food is a focus for many of the industry’s c-store retailers, but some operators have had a huge head start. Here are operators who have led the pack, followed by their signature offer.
|Casey's General Stores||Pizza|
|Susser Holdings Corp., dba Stripes||Tacos|
|Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes||Ready-made take-home food|
|Ricker Oil Co, dba Ricker's||Burritos|
|CST Brands Inc.||Whoopie pies|
|Maverik Inc.||The Beast|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||Stir-fry|
|Sheetz Inc.||Beer-battered fish|
The Convenience Top 101: A Family Business
The industry has many family-owned and -operated businesses whose foundings stretch back to last century or earlier. Here are highlights of some of the longest-lasting family-run retailers.
Wawa was founded in New Jersey, the same year Ludwig van Beethoven was conducting and playing piano in Vienna.
Krist Oil was founded, and Albert Einstein published his first paper on cosmology.
Stewart’s Shops traces its roots back to 1921, when Percy W. and Charles V. Dake began making Dake’s Delicious ice cream in Greenfield, N.Y. In 1945, the Dake family opened the first Stewart’s retail outlet in Ballston Spa, N.Y.
Family-owned and third-generation-managed, York, Pa.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores began with the “Rutter Brothers” selling dairy products from a horse-drawn wagon in 1921. Rutter’s Farm Stores debuted in 1967 as an additional outlet for the company’s dairy products.
Four of our oldest companies were founded: Stewart’s Shops, Coen Oil, Spencer Co. and Tedeschi Food Shops. That same year, Babe Ruth won the American League’s Most Valuable Player, and the Hollywood sign was built.
Angelo Tedeschi opened the first Tedeschi retail location in 1923 in his home in Rockland, Mass., selling imported Italian meats and cheeses from his basement. Later, Angelo began to sell his products from the back of a meat wagon.
Newcomb Oil was founded this year, and Marlon Brando was born.
Henry Ford established a five-day workweek and boosted his workers’ pay by $5, all in the same year that Kelley Williamson Co. was founded.
Mirabito Fuel Group has been in business since 1927, when Italian immigrant James Mirabito began providing heating oil, coal, natural gas, gasoline and lubricants to customers from his plant in Norwich, N.Y. These days, the company is based in The MetroCenter in Binghamton, N.Y.
Up Next: Employee Focus
The Convenience Top 101: Employee Focus
Employee ownership, extended health benefits, free fitness centers for employees: The c-store industry has a wealth of great companies to work for, with great benefits. Here are some of the best.
“QuikTrip exists so that employees can grow and succeed.”
Chester Cadieux II, founder of No. 15 QuikTrip Corp., Tulsa, Okla., named to Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the past 11 years. Employees own nearly one-half of QuikTrip stock, and the company enjoys one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry.
“It’s not just a smart thing to do--it’s the right thing to do.”
Ari Haseotes, president and COO at No. 19 Cumberland Gulf Group, on the company’s 2013 decision to expand health-care coverage to 1,500 more employees, converting them from part-time to fulltime status, in advance of the Affordable Care Act.
“We try to do a lot to thank them for what they do for us.”
Bill Young, director of compensation, benefits and risk for No. 24 Sheetz Inc., which built its Center for Schwellness, a health-and-wellness facility available free of charge to employees. The company, which also is expanding health-care coverage for all employees, is routinely ranked among the best places to work in the states in which it does business.
“The feeling of teamwork has been stronger than ever since the announcement.”
Andrea Myers, president and great-granddaughter of the company founders of Kocolene Marketing, a Seymour, Ind.-based chain of 28 stores that established an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) in 2010. Today, 47% of company stock is owned by employees.
Up Next: Big Givers
The Convenience Top 101: The Big Givers
As successful as these Top 101 retailers are, they recognize the individuals in the communities are largely responsible for their ongoing success. Perhaps as a result, many operators make it a central part of their business to give back to said communities through various charitable causes. Here’s just a small sampling of some of the philanthropic organizations these retailers support.
|Charitable Retailers||Main Organizations|
|Speedway||Children's Miracle Network Hospitals|
|Petroleum Marketers Inc. (Stop In Food Stores||The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA|
|VPS Convenience Store Group||Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation|
|GPM Investments LLC (Fas Mart)||Make-A-Wish & Support Our Troops|
|Martin & Bayley Inc. (Huck's)||Karing for Kids|
|Gasamat Oil Corp. (Smoker Friendly)||JDRF|
|Alimentation Couche-Tard (Mac's, Circle K)||American Red Cross|
|Sheetz Inc.||Sheetz Family Christmas|
Giving Holiday Cheer
While there are certainly individuals in need all year long, the holidays are a special focus for many of these givers. Todd Jenney, CEO of Carmi, Ill.-based Huck’s Convenience Stores, says the company’s own Karing for Kids program—which raised nearly half a million dollars this year—started almost a decade ago with a grass-roots campaign at the store level to raise funds to provide local needy children with Christmas shopping excursions.
“Since then, we put in some corporate programs to really put it on steroids, so to speak,” he says. He was recently approached by a store employee who benefited from this program as a child. “Here’s an individual who went shopping with us as a young child and is now hopefully going to make a career with our organization.”
Other Givers to Services
- The Pantry (Kangaroo Express) raised nearly $2.7 million for Salute Our Troops in 2013.
- Alon Brands has raised significant funds for the USO, including a 2011 partnership with BIC Consumer Products USA to sell military-themed lighters and donate a portion to the organization.