Quarterly Call Quiet on The Pantry's Brewing Board Battle

After brief statement, Hatchell focuses on first-quarter fiscal 2014 results at hand

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

The Pantry Kangaroo Express

CARY, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc.'s president and CEO Dennis Hatchell briefly used the occasion of the company's first-quarter fiscal 2014 earnings call to reiterate his endorsement of Thomas W. "Tad" Dickson, former CEO of Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., as a nominee to the convenience retailer's board of directors.

The nomination comes as a group of investors seeking a change in management has put up its own slate of three board nominees that it believes can better guide the company.

But industry observers expecting further discussion of the situation were disappointed. Hatchell did not take or receive questions on the board takeover attempt, which will play out at The Pantry's 2014 Annual Meeting of the Stockholders on March 13.

"If elected, Tad will bring to The Pantry nearly two decades of operational and management experience in the supermarket industry, including more than 15 years as a public company director. Tad's significant executive retail experience in the southeastern United States makes him highly qualified to serve on our board, and we look forward to benefiting from his insights going forward," Hatchell volunteered at the outset of the call.

He and other company leadership have rejected the qualifications of the directors nominated by Concerned Pantry Shareholders (CPS), a group led by JCP Investment Management LLC and Lone Star Value Management LLC, which together own nearly 2% of The Pantry shares.

CPS said The Pantry leadership has failed to hire someone within the convenience channel to an executive position, instead appointing mainly grocery industry executives to lead the convenience store chain.

Hatchell also talked about the weather. In answer to an analyst's question, he said, "We have all kinds of supply interruption with both our merchandise and our fuel because of road closures all across the Southeast [because of winter storms bringing snow to areas not accustomed to dealing with severe winter weather]. We've got … eight stores as of [Thursday] morning that could not open because we couldn't get employees--or roads open to them--to the stores. It's a big impact the storm has on us across the Southeast."