Mergers & Acquisitions

Sheetz Store Count to Climb in Mountain State

Despite dearth of flat earth, retailer hopes to add six locations per year in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sheetz Inc. plans to continue its rapid expansion in West Virginia, with company officials hoping to open six new Mountain State stores each year for the several years, reported The Charleston Daily Mail.

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz already operates 44 "convenience restaurants" in the state. It opened four new locations in Putnam County over the last four years, two of which opened in the past few weeks, said the report.

The company already has two additional West Virginia sites under contract--one in Beckley and another in Ripley--with negotiations nearly complete for a handful of other locations, real-estate manager David Hazelet told the newspaper.

"We have about five sites that we are on the verge of signing but haven't quite made it yet," Hazelet said. All five sites are located in towns along the Interstates 77 and 79 corridors,

In some areas of the state, including Kanawha County, the biggest hurdle for locating a new store is the lack of flat, easily accessible land. In addition to needing space for multiple gasoline dispensers, each store also needs room for one or two drive-thrus, indoor and outdoor seating areas and indoor kitchen space.

"Our average store is up to 6,700 square feet now," Hazelet said.

Hazelet said that the publicity surrounding Sheetz's aggressive expansion throughout the state has led to more people calling the company to offer up potential sites for consideration. "It's a big state and we think there's a lot of opportunity there yet," he said. "We would like to get enough land lined up so we could schedule a half dozen new store openings a year in West Virginia. We think we can do that within due time."

The upcoming Beckley location will have inside and outside dining, although it will not have a drive-thru. It will feature 48 parking spots and 12 gasoline pumps.

Hazelet said the company would have liked to begin construction on it this year, but had to delay the start of construction to next spring. "There just wasn't enough time to build that project this summer and have it complete by winter," he said.

The location will be the fourth Sheetz in the Beckley area once it opens next summer, said the report

Hazelet said construction at the Ripley location wouldn't begin until sometime in the spring or summer of 2015, as the company first needs to complete all necessary permitting. "The Ripley site just got signed Monday," he said. "We usually allow a full year after a signature to allow for construction."

The company will need to demolish a hotel prior to building the new store, the report said, The site will feature 16 gasoline pumps, inside and outside dining and a drive-thru.

The company is also working to sign a second site in Jackson County, as part of the five additional locations.

Hazelet said the company would continue to work to secure additional sites for its West Virginia expansion. "We know where we want to be, and we're working diligently on that," he said.

Sheetz, with more than $6 billion in revenue for 2012 and more than 15,000 employees, operates more than 450 convenience locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. Sheetz provides a menu of Made-to-Order (MTO) subs, sandwiches and salads, which are ordered through touchscreen order-point terminals. All Sheetz convenience stores are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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