ETP, Sunoco Quietly Begin Westward Expansion

Subsidiary buys 40 Tigermarket sites on heels of Susser Holdings deal

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Tiger Management's Tigermarket

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- In announcing its purchase of Susser Holdings and its Stripes Convenience Stores last week, Energy Transfer Partners executives suggested their next move would be to close the gap between Susser’s stores in and around Texas and ETP’s Sunoco assets along the East Coast and Great Lakes.

That expansion began quietly this week with ETP’s acquisition of Tiger Management’s 40 Tigermarket c-stores on Tuesday, as reported in a 21st Century Smoke/CSP Daily News Flash, adding a new company presence in western Tennessee.

The deal was done through Sunoco subsidiary Southside Oil Co., which ETP/Sunoco acquired through their purchase of Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores in October 2013. Raymond James advised Tiger Management through the deal.

"If you look at the map [of our locations], it's fairly dramatic,” Sunoco president and CEO Bob Owens said last week. “You may notice there's a little gap in between. That seems like a very logical spot for us to fill in.”

Between the two recent purchases—the Susser Holdings deal was announced April 28—ETP and its subsidiaries now operate more than 5,000 convenience stores mostly along the East Coast, in the Great Lakes region, and in and around Texas.

Most Tigermarkets are located in and around Nashville, Tenn. There are also two sites in Georgia.

Tiger Management was founded in 2004. It tripled its presence in convenience retailing when it bought 26 stores from Exxon Mobil Corp. in 2010 as the major-oil company looked to exit the convenience store market. This week, those stores returned to a company known mostly for its gasoline brand and arguably the fastest-growing c-store retailer in the industry in a deal co-owner Greg Merriman was a simple case of reaching “a time to sell.”

“We’ve been advised by Raymond James for some time after making the acquisition of the Exxon locations about four years ago,” Merriman told CSP Daily News. “They continued to keep us measured with the market, and business often presents times to buy and times to sell.”

For Merriman, who will not remain with Southside Oil, the deal likely signals his exit from c-store retailing after 12 years in the industry.

“I’ll probably buy some commercial real estate,” he said about his future plans. Could that include convenience stores? “I’m not sure, honestly. It may or may not.”

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers
Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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