Sayle's Primed for a Sale

Miss. retailer on verge of selling 16 units to concentrate on dealer expansion

Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

CHARLESTON, Miss. -- With liability and labor intensifying more each year, the time was right for Charleston, Miss.-based Sayle Oil to downsize its retail presence, a decision confirmed Thursday when the chain of 36 retail locations said it is in negotiations to sell 16 of its stores to The Pantry Inc.

Sanford, N.C.-based The Pantry is seeking to acquire the 16 Sayle Gas Mart convenience stores in a deal that could be wrapped up by April once The Pantry completes its due diligence, Isaac Sayle, vice president and general manager of Sayle Oil, told CSP Daily News.

"The stores in question [image-nocss] fit into a market area [northern Mississippi] that The Pantry already operates in, so it was a good fit for them. We plan to redirect our energy into expanding our dealer accounts," said Sayle. "The 20 stores that we keep are located in both northern and central parts of the state."

Sayle Oil's Gas Mart convenience stores offer foodservice offerings including Hot Stuff pizza, Chester's Fried Chicken, Pit BBQ and Baskin Robbins ice cream and are branded Exxon, Shell or unbranded. The company also operates a wholesale fuel distribution business and supplies Exxon/Mobil- , Shell- and CITGO-branded fuels.

"We opted to downsize and get more into the dealer business. We have about 50 dealer accounts presently, and it's a business that looks very attractive to us. In expanding this network, we'll either own the stores under a lease provision or we'll simply supply fuels within a wholesale arrangement," Sayle said.

He added that jettisoning the 16 units will enable the company to deal with fewer labor and liability issues. Along with gasoline, the company also supplies propane and lubricants, amounting to about 73 million gallons per year in all fuels sold, including to dealers.