Huck's Growing Again

After "pruning garden," Martin & Bayley aiming to add stores, acquire chain

CARMI, Ill. -- Martin & Bayley Inc. chief executive officer Todd Jenney told the Kiwanis Club of Carmi, Ill., at a luncheon meeting last week that the company, which operates the Huck's Food & Fuel chain of convenience stores, would like to add four or five new stores a year for the next few years and also would like to buy a chain of 10 to 15 c-stores, according to a report by The Carmi Times.

Jenney, who is on his second tour of duty with the now 100% employee-owned firm, told the newspaper that it owned about 140 Huck's stores when he rejoined Martin &[image-nocss] amp; Bayley in 2000.

"We've pruned our garden," he added, referring to the reduction to the present 102 stores as "the wise thing to do," crediting Jim Whetstone for his work in that endeavor.

Martin & Bayley is once more in a position to grow, said Jenney, having added a new store this year in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Mo. and with two others under construction elsewhere in St. Louis County and in Owensboro, Ky.

The company hopes to begin construction of another Owensboro store this year and may add stores in Murray and Lone Oak, Ky., near Paducah, Ky., later this year. And Jenney said Martin & Bayley would like to add four or five new stores a year for the next few years.

The company would also like to buy a "good" chain of 10 to 15 c-stores, he told the club, according to the report.

Most of the products sold in the Huck's stores are distributed from the Martin & Bayley warehouse in the southern Illinois town of Carmi, and the firm distributes Huck's or Sure gasoline to about 75% of its stores (all but one of which sell fuel), as well as some BP and CITGO stations, the report said.

Huck's is known for its Bigg Swigg and Daybreak Cafe, said the Timesand it is ramping up its Gas for Gifts program, offering a nickel per gallon off on the price of gasoline purchased through the program. More than 20 of its stores offer Godfather's pizza, the chain is also known for its Huck's Fried Chicken, and some stores also offer some breakfast items and made-to-order sandwiches through the Grillin' Zone.