Ralphs Fuels Competition

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Ralphs Grocery Co. is set to open its first gas station in the parking lot of a California supermarket.

The Ralphs Marketplace in Bakersfield is the first in the market to offer shoppers the convenience of filling their gas tanks while buying groceries. The company will launch the Fuel Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow.

"We know our customers are busy and we believe our new Fuel Center provides one more convenience to the one-stop-shopping experience," said John Burgon, president of Ralphs Supermarkets.

The new Ralphs Fuel Center features four fuel dispensers offering eight fueling positions. Customers may also purchase items such as ice, soft drinks, tobacco products, lottery and lotto tickets, phone cards, candy, chewing gum and automotive products.

To enhance customer convenience, both the new Fuel Center and Ralphs Marketplace are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Fuel Center is staffed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and accepts debit or credit card purchases at the pump from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In a statement, Ralphs, operator of 459 supermarkets in California and Nevada, said it plans to sell only "high quality gasoline, purchased from local major oil refineries, at competitive prices."

Ralphs' parent, The Kroger Co., currently operates more than 210 fuel centers throughout the country. The supermarket retailer said it plans to open several more units over the next two years.
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