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GPM's Acquisition Trail

Chain walks away from 100-plus store deal; two other buys "imminent'

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- Amid talks of acquisition deals ranging from six stores to more than 100, GPM Investments, operators of the Fas Mart/Shore Stop convenience-store chain, has zeroed in on two purchases while dropping what would have been a 100-plus store acquisition.

CEO Dave McComas told CSP Daily News that the deal for more than 100 stores, which had reached the letter of intent stage in August, was dropped recently, but that two other publicized purchases are imminent. The two deals likely to close are that of a six-store chain in Martinsville, [image-nocss] Va., and the 58-store Double Kwik Market chain in Wise, Va.

Despite having let go of the deal for the larger, unnamed company, GPM continues on its growth path. We've got a couple things we're working on, McComas said, noting that multiples for potential purchases will more than likely decrease going into the future. But when asked if GPM had a goal in terms of number of stores, he said they did not. We'll take the deals as they come.

Counting the nearly completed acquisitions and several planned dealer conversions into company-operated sites, the chain's store count will soon be at 212.

GPM expects to close the $46 million purchase of Double Kwik during the fourth quarter of 2007. That chain operates in Virginia and Tennessee, with the specific markets being new ones for Fas Mart, according to McComas. Of those locations, 55 are gasoline facilities. Double Kwik also operates foodservice franchises at 12 of its c-stores. The turnover of the acquired outlets totaled $132 million in 2006. GPM intends to operate the stores under the Fas Mart brand name and expects to hire the majority of the current personnel.

The funding for such growth is partially made possible by an infusion of capital into GPM from Russian-Israeli billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak, who earlier this year acquired 65% of Ameris Holdings, majority owner of Petro Group, which owns GPM and its Fas Mart/Shore Stop network.

GPM is based in Mechanicsville, Va., and operates in the states of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. GPM also supplies petroleum products to a network of 135 independent third-party dealers.

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