Valero Cracks Crackerbox

Purchasing 29 stores in Arkansas; will retain brand while it converts to Corner Stores

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

SAN ANTONIO -- "We are excited to be re-entering the Arkansas market," Gary Arthur, president of Valero Retail Holdings, a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp., on the announcement yesterday that the company would purchase 29 stores in the Little Rock and Hot Springs, Ark., areas from The Crackerbox Stores and convert them to Valero Corner Stores.

As reported in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash late Wednesday, the deal is expected to close in mid-July. The companies did not disclose the purchase price.

In addition to the store locations, Valero has purchased rights to the Crackerbox name and will maintain that while the stores are in the process of being converted to Valero Corner Stores.

With an average size of 3,700 square feet and situated on an average of an acre and a half, the stores will be remodeled in coming months to include the full Corner Store branded offering, including Cibolo Mountain coffee, advanced food programs and the full line of Fresh Choices proprietary signature branded products.

"Valero sold its Arkansas sites in the early 2000s as part of a retail reorganization and upgrading that was taking place at that time," spokesperson Bill Day told CSP Daily News.

Valero currently owns and directly operates stations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. It has a coast-to-coast network of more than 5,000 retail and wholesale branded outlets, with a branded presence in 40 states.

"These stores are great assets and will complement our existing Corner Store network," added Arthur. "They already carry the Valero brand, so customers are familiar with our high-quality fuel and motor oils. We look forward to serving customers in the Little Rock and Hot Springs areas. Our commitment to them is to provide high-quality products, value and excellent customer service in well-designed, safe, clean facilities."

Lewis Gardner, CEO of The Crackerbox Stores, said, "We served the market for 40 years. In our consideration of buyers, we felt Valero was the best fit for our customers and employees."

He also said, "We want to take this opportunity to thank our customers and employees."

Based in Hot Springs, The Crackerbox Food Stores convenience store chain has a total of 32 locations.

San Antonio-based Valero Energy, through its subsidiaries, is an international manufacturer and marketer of transportation fuels, petrochemicals and power. Its assets include 16 petroleum refineries with a combined throughput capacity of approximately three million barrels per day, 10 ethanol plants with a combined production capacity of 1.2 billion gallons per year and a 50-megawatt wind farm. Approximately 6,800 retail and branded wholesale outlets carry the Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock and Beacon brands in the United States and the Caribbean; Ultramar in Canada; and Texaco in the United Kingdom and Ireland.