Mergers & Acquisitions

SQRL Expects to Reopen All 210 Former Mountain Express Convenience Stores Within 3 Months

New retailer also plans to remodel and rebrand the locations, but operational questions remain
sqrl convenience stores
Logo/SQRL Holdings

After signing a master lease on 210 former Mountain Express gas stations and convenience stores in September 2023, SQRL Service Stations and Blue Owl Capital said they expect all of the locations to be back up and running within the next three months. SQRL also intends to fully remodel and rebrand all locations, the company said.

In October, SQRL Holdings—a food and fuel retailer with more than 400 convenience stores in 14 statesacquired 210 c-stores in several states. Real-estate investment trust (REIT) Blue Owl Capital, New York, sold the locations, formerly leased to Mountain Express Oil, to SQRL. The companies did not disclose the transaction price.

Mountain Express, Acworth, Georgia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March in an attempt to reorganize the company. After it missed payments to gasoline suppliers, which forced some operators to close their fuel centers, travel centers and convenience stores, Judge David Jones, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Texas, terminated all of Mountain Express’s real estate leases. In a series of court orders, the judge converted the filing from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, directing Mountain Express to liquidate its assets. The court also rejected a $49 million bid from Arko, parent company of retailer GPM Investments, Richmond, Virginia.

Operational Issues

Since acquiring the stations, SQRL instituted cost-cutting measures and laid off as many as 400 employees, according to estimates obtained by Arkansas Business.

SQRL founder and Chief Executive Officer Blake Smith has stepped away as CEO for health reasons, but he told the news outlet that the company planned to rehire some of the people who were laid off. Adam Lusthaus, a SQRL partner, is now CEO, and Preston Eldridge, the company’s general counsel, is now chief operating officer, said the report.

A sampling by Arkansas Business of 28 SQRL locations visited in central, western and northern Arkansas in late February found that 23 were closed and only two had functioning fuel pumps, the news outlet said. Empty sections of shelving and refrigerated display cases reflect merchandise supply issues, the report said.

Representatives of SQRL declined to comment to CSP Daily News by posting time.

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