CSNews Exclusive: Jacksons Gets Warm Welcome in Seattle
SEATTLE -- Customer response to Jacksons Food Stores’ newly-acquired convenience stores in this market has been overwhelmingly positive as the Idaho-based company brought a consistent product offering and look to the former Shell sites.
In an exclusive online story this last December, CSNews Online reported Jacksons Food Stores was entering the Seattle area by acquiring 96 Shell-branded locations through PacWest Energy LLC, its joint venture with Shell Oil Products US. Of the sites, 54 were to be owned and operated by Meridian, Idaho-based Jacksons, while the other 42 would be supplied fuel by the company's wholesale entity, Jackson Oil.
At the time of CSNews’ original story, the company-operated sites were being rebranded to the Jacksons banner, and additional enhancements were expected to be completed within 24 months. While in Seattle recently, CSNews Online met up with Jacksons’ Regional Manager Gina Mosier to tour some of the stores and hear how the transition is progressing.
Since taking over the sites, which span from Arlington to Lacey, Wash., the market’s response to Jacksons has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Mosier, who worked this region for ConocoPhillips before joining Jacksons in August 2009.
“Jacksons is being received well,” she said. “The comment cards we’ve been getting are positive, and customers are actually thanking us for coming into the market.”
One thing Jacksons brings to the Seattle region vs. the competition is consistency in its offering, said Mosier. For instance, the company makes it a point to have the same coffee and fountain offering in every store regardless of its size, as well as the same foodservice offering in those stores that have the space to accommodate it.
“If you see a Jacksons logo, you know you can come in and get a fountain drink,” Mosier explained. “In so many other stores, though, it’s hit or miss.”
Among the first modifications Jacksons made to the acquired stores -- previously operated by three different Shell multiple-store operators (MSOs) -- was adding fountain and coffee to locations where it was lacking, and adding prepared foods to stores with the necessary space. None of the acquired stores had prepared foods before.
Other changes made to date include new shelving, while all the stores have been painted inside and remerchandised, and extensive landscaping work has been completed.
“[Jacksons] is going to give some of the competitors a really good run for their money because they’re very in tune with keeping the offering in their stores consistent,” Mosier said.
This focus on consistency also extends to cleanliness. Jacksons requires monthly inspections for every store, which are conducted by Mosier and her five district managers. These inspections account for 25 percent of a store’s monthly bonus, and the location has to score a 95 or higher to be awarded the full 25-percent credit. Bonuses are given not only at the manager level, but all the way down to the cashier level.
“Jacksons is very into taking care of their employees,” noted Mosier, who added since taking the stores over, customer counts have grown in advance of the busy summer season.
See the Aug. 16 issue of Convenience Store News for more on how Jacksons retained roughly 80 percent of the existing store employees, further store improvements that have been completed or are underway, and photos of the remodeled stores.