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Ricker, BP Lawsuit Dismissed

INDIANAPOLIS -- A joint agreement has been reached between BP Products North America and Ricker Oil Co. to dismiss all claims related to a lawsuit filed by Ricker against BP, relating to a ampm franchise deal in Indianapolis.

Anderson-based Ricker Oil Co. bought in 2008 all 32 of BP's Indianapolis-area locations, but a year later, Ricker filed a suit against BP in federal court over poor performance of the 19 gas stations and convenience stores that operate under BP's franchised ampm brand, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported when the suit was filed in October 2009.

"There was a stay put on it after it was filed, and we have never been back
to court since then," Jay Ricker, president of Ricker Oil told CSNews
. "We have had amicable conversations throughout the process."

The suit claimed BP charged unjustified royalty fees while delivering no boost from its national advertising, a proprietary IT system or bulk purchase pricing. Ricker also claimed it was losing "thousands of dollars per month" and problems with the ampm stores were "crippling Ricker's economic stability."

With the suit dismissed, "both parties look forward to continuing a long and mutually beneficial relationship to grow the BP and ampm brands in Indianapolis," according to a BP statement issued yesterday.

"It was an amicable settlement, and we are happy with the settlement," Ricker told CSNews Online, explaining the settlement was reached two weeks ago. We are still a franchisee, and we look forwarding to building the brand."

In addition to its Indianapolis locations, Ricker operates 29 convenience stores and supplies 25 independent operators.

Other issues cited in the lawsuit revolved around store operations. In court documents, Ricker said it expected special discount pricing under the ampm franchise, but costs and delivery times were longer than what it paid outside of the program.

Ricker Oil also made allegations of unnecessary capital expenses, such as replacing red product shelving with white. In addition, Ricker argued BP required the company to order bulk quantities of items such as condiments, regardless of a store's size or average traffic, resulting in waste "costing thousands of dollars per month."

The lawsuit also claimed BP's "Retalix" pricing system didn't work properly for Ricker Oil, as price changed needed to be keyed in by a manager at the store, vs. being automatically changed under Ricker's own legacy IT system.

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