CHICAGO — Despite the pandemic—or perhaps because of it—2021 turned out to be a banner year for merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activity in the convenience-store channel. It included a healthy number of transactions, including the biggest in the history of the U.S. c-store industry. And it included many other high-profile deals and series of deals.
Here’s a roundup of the year’s M&A highlights from among the many transactions (and click here for all of the 2021 deals) …
1. 7-Eleven Acquires Speedway
Not only was 7-Eleven Inc.’s acquisition of Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s retail network, Speedway LLC, the biggest in the company’s history, but at $21 billion, it was also the biggest acquisition in the history of the U.S. c-store industry in terms of size and price tag for a purchase that didn’t also include a refinery.
Amid a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) controversy over the deal’s approval, 7-Eleven moved ahead with its scheduled acquisition of Speedway and its approximately 3,800 stores in 36 states. The deal closed on May 14, 2021.
The acquisition was actually a series of deals involving several major industry players. Because of the FTC’s ongoing competitive concerns with the deal, the agency required 7-Eleven to divest more than 290 locations, ultimately selling stores under both brands to CrossAmerica Partners, Anabi Oil and Jacksons Food Stores while continuing to integrate Speedway into the 7-Eleven retail network.
Click here for a history of the deal.
2. Shell Acquires Timewise
One major deal in 2021 brought full circle a retail divestment cycle that began in the 1990s and continued into the 2000s as major oil companies largely sold off their company-owned c-stores to focus upstream and on refining. Some are now revisiting a retail strategy.
In October, Shell Retail and Convenience Operations LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell Oil Products US, signed an agreement to acquire 248 company-owned fuel and convenience retail sites from the Landmark group of companies, which has c-stores operating in Texas under the Timewise brand.
Shell had sold 162 locations to a Landmark joint venture in 2008.
3. BP Acquires Thorntons
BP took full ownership of the Thorntons c-store chain after two and a half years as part owner as part of a joint venture established in 2019. BP said the acquisition, announced in July, will allow the vertical oil company to grow its presence in the U.S. fuel and convenience retail business.
Specifically, BP agreed to acquire the majority share it did not already own in the c-store venture from ArcLight Capital Partners LLC.
Once the transaction is complete, BP will become a leading convenience operator in the Midwest with 208 owned and operated locations across six states: Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida. Further, BP says it plans to retain and build on the Thorntons brand.
4. Murphy USA Acquires QuickChek
In January, Murphy USA Inc. completed its acquisition of QuickChek Corp., a $645 million all-cash transaction announced in December 2020. The purchase added 157 c-stores in the Northeast and increased Murphy USA’s total station count to more than 1,650 in 27 states.
Many of Murphy USA’s sites are smaller, kiosk-sized fuel locations adjacent to Walmart stores, with limited convenience offerings.The acquisition of QuickChek helps Murphy USA enhance its food and beverage offer, the company said.
5. Casey’s Acquires Bucky’s, More
Casey’s General Stores, which traditionally is not very acquisitive and is extremely cautious when it does make a purchase, was involved in three major deals in 2021.
In May, Casey’s completed the acquisition, announced in November 2020, of 94 Bucky’s c-stores in Illinois and Nebraska from Buchanan Energy, which the company called “the most significant transaction” in its more than 50-year history.
In June, Casey’s closed on an agreement, announced in March, to buy 49 sites in Oklahoma from Alimentation Couche-Tard for $39 million in an all-cash transaction as part of Couche-Tard’s decision following a strategic review to divest 355 sites in North America.
And in September, Casey’s announced that it would acquire 40 Pilot c-stores in Tennessee and Kentucky from Pilot Corp. in an all-cash transaction of $220 million.
6. Parkland USA Acquires Urbieta Oil
Parkland Corp., a Canadian fuel marketer and supplier, has also been making a series of U.S. acquisitions, including four during 2021.
In its biggest deal of the year, Parkland, through its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary Parkland USA, in November entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Urbieta Oil Co., including 94 retail locations in Florida.
In April, Parkland USA completed the acquisition, announced in February, of Conrad & Bischoff Inc., including 17 company-owned and two leased c-stores in three states under the KJ’s Super Stores brand.
Also in November, Parkland USA entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Lynch Oil, including five large-format Mr. Gas c-stores and forecourts, and two travel centers.
7. GPM Acquires Express Stop
Serial acquirer GPM Investments Inc., a subsidiary of ARKO Corp., continues to rack up transactions.
In March, in its biggest deal of the year, GPM agreed to acquire 61 c-stores in Michigan and Ohio operating under the Express Stop banner.
- Related: GPM to Acquire Express Stop Stores
And in November, GPM closed on the acquisition of the Handy Mart chain, including 36 c-stores in North Carolina. This deal, GPM’s 20th since 2013, emphasizes the company’s aggressive growth strategy.
8. Mountain Express Acquires Brother’s Food Mart
Mountain Express Oil Co., intent on expanding its retail platform, made several deals during 2021.
In its biggest deal of the year, the company in October acquired Brothers Food Mart, which has 50 locations in Louisiana.
In March, Mountain Express acquired the West Hill Ranch c-store brand with six locations in Florida.
And in November, Mountain Express acquires 24 retail sites from Texon Oil in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
9. Refuel Acquires ALCO
Frequent acquirer Refuel Operating Co. LLC has made nine deals since it was established in May 2019, including three in 2021.
In its biggest deal of the year, in August, Refuel entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Albemarle Oil Co., including 28 ALCO c-stores in North Carolina and South Carolina.
- Related: Refuel to Acquire ALCO
In June, Refuel closed on its acquisition, announced in May, of Wag-A-Bag LLC, which has 18 c-stores in Texas.
And in September, it entered into a deal to acquire the assets of Action Fuels LP, including 9 Buck’s c-stores in Texas.
10. VERC Sells to Multiple Buyers
VERC Enterprises—a high-profile c-store retailer that made a lasting impression on the industry by employing intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals—in March and April sold its 32 c-stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to several buyer, including 17 units to Nouria Energy, 11 units to Energy North Group and four units to Global Partners LP.