Cumberland Farms Returns to Its Retail Roots

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Six months after shedding Gulf Oil LP, Cumberland Farms Inc. is coming full circle and shifting its focus to its retail beginnings.

The turn will bring the Framingham-based company more in line with how it was run by its founders, their grandson and current CEO Ari Haseotes told the Boston Globe.

The company traces its roots back to 1939 when Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes bought a farm in Cumberland, R.I. One purchase of a cow and calf for $84 later, and the Haseotes family found itself in the dairy business. 

Now, Haseotes explained the reported $1-billion sale of Gulf Oil to Chelsea Petroleum Products Holdings LLC, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners, gave Cumberland Farms an exit from the wholesale business and the opportunity to focus exclusively on retail.

According to the news outlet, the transaction — which closed in December — enables the family-owned company to devote more resources to remodeling its stores and revamping its Westborough distribution center. 

Haseotes said the company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into those efforts in the past five years, and there's more work to be done. One area of focus is to bring more fresh, ready-to-go meals to the stores. Cumberland Farms operates a network of 600-plus convenience stores across eight states. 

In addition, Cumberland Farms is relocating its headquarters from leased space in Framingham to the Westborough complex, which the Haseotes family owns. 

Haseotes expects the move to take place during the next year. Currently, about 400 people work in Westborough and roughly 300 employees work at the Framingham office, the news report added.

According to Haseotes, private ownership allows the company to offer stronger benefit packages to its 8,000 employees than a comparable public company could. Cumberland Farms can also do more for the communities it serves, he told the Boston Globe.

For example, a decade after its creation, Cumberland Farms' Believe and Achieve Scholarship Program has exceeded more than $1 million in financial assistance to 1,000-plus “bright, ambitious young individuals, helping them pursue their dreams of achieving a college education,” as CSNews Online previously reported.

The Believe and Achieve program provides $1,000 scholarships annually to 130 eligible graduating high school seniors across its service area. This year, Cumberland Farms has awarded $130,000 to 37 students in Massachusetts, 23 in Florida, 27 in New York, 14 in New Hampshire, eight in Connecticut, 13 in Maine, three in Vermont, four in Rhode Island and one in New Jersey.

"Being private has afforded us the ability to think in decades instead of years, or what's more common, quarters," Haseotes said. "We're able to make investments that may take many, many years to pay off."

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