Road to Fortune
Secrets of building, buying and selling in 2018
Illustrations by Dave Homer
John Strickland Jr. did the numbers. Dollar General bought all the Walmart Express shops in his market.
Murphy and Sheetz were building ground-ups. His prime locations were already maxed out at 125,000 gallons a month, and, to make matters worse, key roads were about to be rerouted.
It was time to sell.
Last summer, Strickland, president of Wayne Oil Co., a 14-store retailer and fuel distributor based in Goldsboro, N.C., sold all but one of his retail locations, retaining his fuel-delivery business and repositioning his assets toward a more bankable future.
“A lot of factors came together,” Strickland says. “So we found out what the business was worth and extracted the equity.”
He was not alone. In just the past few months, several big names have sold, including former NACS Chair Sonja Hubbard, who handed the keys to her 273-store E-Z Mart chain in Texarkana, Texas, to Richmond, Va.-based GPM Investments.
Push past the headlines, and the real story isn’t about the big consolidators such as GPM, 7-Eleven or Couche-Tard. Since January, deals in the range of 50 to as few as eight stores went down in all corners of the country.
This shakeup at the small to midsize level can mean both uncertainty and possibility for retailers, shining a light on succession issues, competitive shifts and “breadcrumb” opportunities of stores falling loose from monster deals.
Amid all this fluidity, CSP turned its focus on asset management, particularly for those small and midsize chains. The editors identified the major moving parts and key tipping points tied to making money in the c-store business. Along that complicated road map, four imperatives emerged: assess store value, pick a model, fight headwinds and track ROI.