Remapping Columbus

Englefield Oil buys 43 BP sites, commits to ampm

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

HEATH, Ohio -- The turnover of BP's company-owned locations to regional jobbers and retailers continues, with the scheduled purchase of 43 sites in Columbus, Ohio, by Englefield Oil Co. The transaction will bring the chain up to 138 stores, allowing the company access to a metropolitan market for the first time in its 48-year history.

"We've been more of a rural chain, until now," Ben Englefield, president of the Heath, Ohio-based petroleum distributorship and c-store company, told CSP Daily News, which first reported the deal on Friday. "In the past, the majors [image-nocss] kept Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati and now they're selling them--we've been waiting to get Columbus."

Englefield, who declined to talk price, initiated a relationship with BP eight years ago with the purchase of a handful of locations. Since then, a number of smaller buys culminated in this acquisition.

"Englefield Oil is another example of our partnership with talented jobber franchisees and how we're continuing to find partners to expand and grow the ampm [c-store] brand," Scott Dean, a spokesperson for BP and its La Palma, Calif.-based ampm retail group told CSP Daily News. "We've seen increased due diligence from banks, so it's taking longer to change over to the [franchisee model], but we're still on track to meet our goals for next year."

The financial collapse of Wall Street combined with the nation's banking troubles have seemingly brought credit and lending activity to a halt. Englefield admitted that from a financing standpoint, "it's not an easy market," but says longevity in the business and a strong relationship with a local bank made the agreement possible. He expected to close the deal late next month.

Of the 43 sites, 25 stores will assume the ampm brand, with the rest taking on the company's Duke & Duchess Shoppes identity. Englefield expressed excitement over the ampm franchise, saying, "It's obviously successful out West and BP is going to continue to grow that brand in the East, bringing advertising and [additional] support."

Of the 500-600 properties targeted for transition, BP has more than 200 now operating as ampm sites, according to Dean. "And our total brand awareness scores continue to rise," he said. "For example, we're seeing high, double-digit increases in brand awareness in all our new ampm marketing areas."

Founded in 1961, Englefield Oil also supplies 20 dealers in Ohio and owns and operates six bulk fuel facilities. It also distributes Valvoline and Shell products through three distribution warehouses. The acquisition increases the number of Englefield employees from 1,200 to about 1,800 and pushes annual sales past $1 billion.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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