Mergers & Acquisitions

GPM Completes Admiral Acquisition From Sun Capital

Begins operating 170 c-stores, tobacco shops in Michigan and Indiana

RICHMOND, Va., and COOPERSVILLE, Mich. -- GPM Investments LLC has closed on the previously reported acquisition of Admiral Petroleum Co. and has taken ownership of 170 retail outlets in Michigan and Indiana from Sun Capital Partners Inc.

The deal further develops GPM’s existing portfolio of stores in the Midwest and gives it more than 1,000 convenience stores in the East and the Midwest, making the Richmond, Va.-based chain one of the 10 largest in the U.S. c-store industry.

The outlets include 137 convenience stores with fuel sales and 33 discount tobacco shops. GPM will continue to operate these stores under the current Admiral and Admiral Discount Tobacco brand names.

“The Admiral store employees have served customers with dedication and enthusiasm. We are eager to remain on the same path of service with passion and commitment,” said Chris Giacobone, COO. “Bringing the Admiral employees into the GPM family was very important to our leadership team, and we look forward to our continued growth with these new stores.”

Jeff Turpin, a more than 20-year veteran of the convenience-store industry, has been CEO of Admiral.

“I’ve worked on this deal for almost two years,” Turpin told CSP Daily News. “Upon acquisition by GPM, I resigned from Admiral Petroleum Co., Lemmen Oil and Lemmen Transportation.”

He provided some details on the deal.

“GPM came to us with an offer, and whatever is best for the limited partners and the employees, that is what Sun Capital does,” Turpin said. “It’s a win for the employees who are going to have unparalleled opportunities, and a win in the good return for the limited partners.”

The new owner will “bring a tremendous amount of merchandising expertise to the business, and much better access to contracts,” said Turpin. “Their employee training is going to be much better. The stores will change top to bottom.”

Admiral started operating c-stores in Greenville, Mich., in the 1950s, some of which are still open today. It was one of the first c-store operations to sell milk, bread and eggs. The company eliminated the middleman and bought in bulk, warehousing and distributing most of its products directly to the Admiral stores. In 1995, it started another division with the creation of Admiral Discount Tobacco.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital acquired Coopersville, Mich.-based Admiral in May 2016, along with Lemmen Oil Co., Cassville, Mo. The deals included 130 Admiral-branded gas stations and c-stores, as well as nine Lemmen-branded gas stations and c-stores.

“Our past investment experiences in the convenience-store sector helped us recognize significant potential in Admiral,” Marc Leder, co-CEO of Sun Capital, said. “We were able to quickly unlock enormous value by supporting the management team’s focus on operational improvements, and are looking forward to seeing the company thrive under its new owners.”

During its ownership of Admiral, Sun Capital installed a seasoned management team with a track record of success within the industry, it said. The team worked with Sun Capital to focus on operational improvement initiatives to streamline Admiral’s core sales, distribution and merchandising strategies, expand service offerings, implement a fuel pricing program and professionalize its cash management, finance, inventory management and merchandising functions.

Sun Capital's experience in the c-store sector included  more than 10 previous acquisitions.

“Sun Capital’s successful track record in the convenience-store industry demonstrates a profound understanding of the challenges and opportunities available within this space,” said Jared Wien, principal at Sun Capital. “We’re exceedingly proud of the Admiral management team led by CEO Jeff Turpin.”

Sun Capital and GPM have a history of deals.

With the Admiral acquisition, 68% of GPM’s stores have come from retail networks aggregated by Sun Capital, Turpin estimated. Turpin previously was chairman and CEO of Sun Capital's VPS Convenience Store Group LLC.

In first-quarter 2015, Sun Capital entered into an agreement for GPM to purchase the Midwest division of VPS, which consisted of 163 c-stores in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois under the Village Pantry and Next Door Store brands.

This transaction added to GPM’s acquisition of the Southeast division of VPS in August 2013, which included 263 c-stores under a variety of names. Those stores became a division of the company called GPM Southeast, located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

GPM operates or supplies fuel to stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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