EL DORADO, Ark. — Despite the wild ride that was 2020, Murphy USA Inc. found itself well prepared to button up a major acquisition and weather the challenges the pandemic presented to the convenience channel.
"At this time last year, we foretold on our annual report that Murphy USA's efforts to build a resilient and agile organization since its 2013 spinoff would propel us through whatever obstacles might be presented, such that we could emerge even stronger on the other side," Murphy USA President and CEO Andrew Clyde said during the company's fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 earnings call, held Feb. 4.
"And with that confidence in the strength of our people and our business model, we can afford to be bold in the face of great uncertainty," he continued. "Certainly, our foresight was evidenced on many fronts, but ultimately it was our insights around our customers' behaviors, competitive dynamics in our sector, and our own capabilities — including our own limitations — that drove the major decisions and investments that led to our 2020 results and success."
One of those major decisions was an agreement to acquire Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek Corp. for $645 million. The company closed on the deal Jan. 29, six weeks after announcing it, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
"We continue to play our distinctive game and win and, in the process through the QuickChek acquisition, secured the capabilities to play a different game in the future," Clyde said.
With the purchase, El Dorado-based Murphy USA added 157 convenience stores, bringing the combined network to approximately 1,660 stores.
According to the CEO, three QuickChek attributes stand out as complementary to Murphy USA's business model and geographic footprint:
- A best-in-class food and beverage program;
- A strong brand; and
- An attractive market.
QuickChek also brings its own pipeline of organic growth opportunities, he added.
The Integration Begins
With the deal completed, talks now move to integration and synergies.
"Our integration is not about the rapid extraction of cost synergies. Rather, we are being thoughtful on both what we can learn from QuickChek and what we can do to help improve their business," Clyde explained. "This will be a mutually inclusive process where the best practices of each are shared and implemented in an appropriate timeframe."
For example, Murphy USA can benefit from QuickChek's food and beverage offer, while Murphy USA will leverage its gasoline supply and retail pricing expertise to optimize QuickChek's operations, the chief executive noted.
As he pointed out, ramping up its foodservice program was already "an area of internal priority for Murphy USA as we began to focus management attention on the part of the business where we felt there was both near-term low-hanging fruit and long-term opportunity."
As the convenience and fuel retailer examined its options, Clyde said Murphy USA found that acquiring QuickChek would enable it "to obtain the capabilities we needed immediately and accelerate by turning up the learning curve, while leveraging a unique and distinctive brand in a new geography with a similar culture and aligned aspirations for future growth."
Murphy USA and its team of nearly 15,000 employees serve an estimated 2 million customers each day through its network of retail gas stations and c-stores in 27 states. The majority of Murphy USA's sites are located in close proximity to Walmart stores.