Mergers & Acquisitions

Readers Question Legitimacy of New Retail Player

Can luxury-goods holding company achieve its aggressive c-store acquisition aspirations?

DURHAM, N.C. -- A grand proclamation that suggests there could be a new player among the top 10 largest convenience-store chains in the United States next year raised some eyebrows last week and led to multiple claims that the unfamiliar corporation—Raleigh-Durham, N.C.-based The Guess Corp.—may not be the real deal.

The Guess Private Jet Co.

On July 14, Guess Corp. announced that it is seeking to acquire at least 1,000 convenience stores over the next 12 months at an average of 100 stores per month. This from a company said to have been founded in 2001 by a 16-year-old and, according to its website, doing business as a “luxury-goods holding company” with a focus on diamonds, private jets, yachts, automobiles, fine art, private islands, casinos, hotels and other business lines, including wine, chocolate, food, beverages, coffee and tea, among others.

“The Guess Corp. began in luxury goods; however, we have begun to diversify since the beginning of this year into other areas such as convenience stores and gas stations and hospitality such as restaurants and hotels,” Summer Branson, senior corporate vice president, told CSP Daily News in response to questions about its industry intentions. “As a conglomerate, we aren’t restricted to one particular area of business. We look forward to bringing an upscale change to the c-store and gas station market.”

But some CSP Daily News readers are suggesting the company corporation and its growth intentions are a hoax, one saying that several top company executives have little business experience and another questioning the business address.

“The address of the company’s officers with the North Carolina secretary of state is a post-office store,” said one reader.

Branson declined comment on the legitimacy of the company, except to say, “Guess Corp. is committed to its plan to pursue these acquisition opportunities and looks forward to working with sellers of operations and reaching mutually beneficial results.”

Regarding experience, Branson said that “members of senior management, middle management and our board have varying degrees of experience in c-stores and retailing; we know the space very well, and we intend to increase our staff with experience in those areas.”

For its acquisition push, Guess Corp. has invited brokers to provide buyer representation “with higher commissions to ensure the acquisition program is completed in a timely fashion,” it said. It is looking at branded and unbranded units nationwide, and also considering units with or without real estate. Upon completion of the purchases, the company intends to rebrand and renovate the properties with “innovative and sleek” designs and provide enhanced customer relationship management technology, it said.

“The overall response to the press release has resulted in a great deal of interest from all segments of the market including many parties looking to sell their operations to us,” said Branson. “Our staff is going through emails as quickly as possible, and we will be looking at opportunities very closely over the weekend and early next week.”

Meanwhile, an Internet search has revealed that Guess Corp. has issued more than a dozen press releases over the last week relating to ventures in many industries.

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