TA Counting the Minits

TravelCenters of America begins executing deals around c-store expansion strategy

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

TravelCenters of America Minit Mart Fast N Fresh

WESTLAKE, Ohio -- TravelCenters of America LLC has completed one of its previously disclosed acquisitions of 33 convenience stores in northern Illinois with the purchase of MKM Oil Co.'s Fast N Fresh chain. The deal is part of the company's recently announced strategy to dramatically expand its c-store network with six separate new deals it will consummate between August and the end of the year.

The company began its expansion into the convenience-store space when it purchased 31 Minit Mart stores in the Bowling Green, Ky., area, in 2013. Since then, it remained low-key until a burst of recent M&A activity, growing from 34 locations at the beginning of 2015 to 114, including those under contract.

During first-quarter 2015, TA acquired two travel centers, including one the company previously operated under a management agreement, and 26 convenience stores, in three separate transactions including 19 Best Oil Little Stores, mostly in Minnesota. Additionally, during second-quarter 2015, it acquired 19 convenience stores principally in Kansas and Missouri from Overland Park, Kansas-based Gas-Mart USA.

During the company’s recent second-quarter 2015 earnings call, CEO Thomas O’Brien said it had agreed to acquire 123 additional convenience stores in six separate transactions.

MKM Oil, which has been in business since 1989, began with one gas station, which the company later converted to a convenience store and grew to its current store base of more than 30 locations.

Rick Marketti, MKM Oil’s president, said that he will miss the excitement and challenges of operating the stores, but he and his partner Gary Kavanagh both agreed that the time had come for them to sell after 26 years and allow others to take the stores to the next level.

These locations offer branded gasoline and a wide selection of groceries, fresh to-go food prepared on site and quick-serve restaurants (QSRs), and most include car washes. TravelCenters said it expects that the convenience stores at these locations, which average approximately 3,400 square feet in size, will be rebranded as Minit Mart convenience stores, and the sites will undergo improvements in the coming months.

As reported in a 21st Century Smoke/CSP Daily News Flash, American Business Brokers & Advisors, Effingham, Ill., and W.J.F. Services, Normal, Ill., provided merger and acquisition advisory services to Gardner, Ill.-based MKM Oil and its Fast N Fresh Quality Fuels.

TravelCenters of America LLC, Westlake, Ohio, has stores in 43 states and Canada operating under the Minit Mart, TA and Petro Stopping Centers brands. Its business includes 370 convenience stores, including 256 which are located at travel centers.

Part of CSP's 2015 Convenience Top 101 retailers