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Mergers & Acquisitions

Campbell Oil Acquires The Hartley Co.

BellStores chain picks up 16 Starfire retail locations
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MASSILLON, Ohio — Campbell Oil Co. has acquired The Hartley Co., which directly operates 16 Starfire convenience stores and petroleum marketing locations in Ohio and distributes wholesale fuels to multiple company-owned, dealer-operated sites and open dealers.

W.H. Hartley founded The Hartley Co. in Cambridge, Ohio, in 1912. In 1925, the company became a distributor for Shell Oil Co. and grew from 10 stations to one of the largest jobberships in Ohio. In the 1970s, The Hartley Co. established the Starfire brand to distinguish itself from other independent operators. In the 2000s, the company grew to become one of the leading petroleum marketers in the region through its acquisition of additional stores from BP. The company is in its fifth generation of family leadership under President Doug Hartley.

“This was a long and thought-out process to come to the decision of putting our fuel business on the market,” he said.

Richmond, Va.-based investment bank Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc. provided merger-and-acquisition advisory services to Hartley, which included valuation advisory, marketing the business through a confidential, structured sale process and negotiation of the sale.

Matrix has provided valuation guidance to the Hartley family since the early 2000s, divesting more than 20 locations in 2006, and it has now advised the shareholders on the sale of the company, said Spencer Cavalier, co-head of Matrix’s Downstream Energy & Convenience Retail Group.

Campbell Oil, based in Massillon, Ohio, is the parent company of the BellStores chain of 58 c-stores in the Buckeye State. It is No. 114 in CSP’s 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.

Founded in 1939 by Chester K. “Chet” Campbell, Campbell Oil began by delivering fuel by horse-drawn wagons. It opened its first c-store in 1985 and operates more than 50 locations under the BellStores name and sells Marathon-branded fuel. In addition to offering the Bell’s Bistro proprietary program of salads and subs, some stores are co-branded with Subway, Dairy Queen and Domino’s quick-service restaurants.

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