MASON CITY, Iowa -- A convenience-store retailer with ambitions to grow to up to 1,000 stores in the Midwest took two major steps in its development this month, moving forward with its acquisition of 21 locations and launching its new c-store brand and company identity.
BW Gas & Convenience Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Beverly, Mass.-based Brookwood Financial Partners LLC, will own 31 c-stores when its acquisition deal with Kum & Go L.C. is complete. The company announced July 8 that it is moving forward with the purchase of 21 convenience stores in Iowa from Kum & Go, as reported in a McLane Co./CSP Daily News Flash. Three of the stores in Mason City, Iowa, were acquired this week. The remaining 18 stores are expected to be acquired within the next four weeks, the company said.
With this acquisition, BW Gas & Convenience will own and operate 31 stores in Iowa. It also acquired 10 Country Store sites in late 2015, and more deals are expected in the near future.
"BW Gas & Convenience has a robust acquisition pipeline and plans to acquire between 600-1,000 convenience stores throughout the United States over the next several years," the company said.
The future for those stores is a new convenience-store brand—Yesway—introduced by BW in Mason City this week.
Yesway, to be based Des Moines, Iowa, will feature an expanded product assortment, enhanced foodservice offering and neighborly customer service, the company said. In addition, Yesway plans to spend approximately $6.7 million to completely upgrade and remodel its entire portfolio to further enhance the customer experience. Fuel will be branded either YesWay or Cenex, depending on the area and supply opportunities.
Under the direction of Brian Trout, Yesway’s senior vice president of operations, Yesway will aim to improve the merchandise mix and launch "an exciting new loyalty program."
“The launch of Yesway marks the beginning of an exciting new branding venture for BW Gas & Convenience,” said Thomas Nicholas Trkla, Yesway’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Yesway is committed to serving our customers and providing them with a terrific shopping experience. We look forward to expanding our brand in the Midwest and becoming an integral part of the communities we serve.”
Trout said Yesway aims to offer a "fresh experience" to consumers in Iowa.
“Customers will enjoy redesigned stores that are true to our brand tenets, which are to be user-friendly, inviting and efficient," he said. "Over the years, the previous owners have established a loyal and reliable customer base, and we look forward to continuing to serve them in their respective local communities.”
Trkla, in an exclusive interview with CSP Daily News, said the he was surprised by the availability of suitable sites for BW's growth, and fields “a tremendous amount” of unsolicited calls from small operators who want to sell their stores.
“Our original strategy was to have five to six regions with 150 stores; we didn’t think we would be able to acquire that many in one region,” said Trkla. “I’m very surprised and very confident we can have maybe the entire company in the expanded Midwest.”
That realm includes Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado and as far west as New Mexico. The company's plan is to acquire 100 to 140 locations in 2016.
Its focus has been squarely on what Trkla calls “B-minus” sites in rural communities that are operating but “need TLC.”
“We are first and foremost real-estate experts,” he said. “That’s where we have cut our teeth and been very successful over past two decades. So that defines our strategy—finding stores we can improve, and then are applying best practices.”
The key, said Trkla, is to have ubiquity. “We won’t be a 4,000-square-foot Wawa. We don’t want to spend $5 million on a 5,000-square-foot store.
“Our objective is to build a world-class company,” said Trkla. “We think there’s tremendous value in the good old c-stores.”