Several C-store Chains Reveal 2017 Growth Plans

NATIONAL REPORT — The U.S. convenience store count hit a record in 2016 — adding the equivalent of 340 stores to reach 154,53 c-stores — and there may be no slowing down this year.

Cumberland Farms' growth plans in upstate New York could be setting up a turf battle with Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Stewart's Shops.

Based in Framingham, Mass., Cumberland Farms recently received approval to build in Wilton, N.Y. The nearly 5,000-square-foot location with gas is expected to open in September, according to the Saratogian.

"Coffee and gas go hand in hand in the morning," said Ross Gallaway of First Hartford Corp., Cumberland Farms' local development partner. "It's the same strategy as Stewart's."

The Wilton store will be the second Cumberland Farms store in the market; its first is in Milton. The chain has a larger presence in the greater Glen Falls, N.Y., area with at least eight locations, the news outlet reported.

In all, Cumberland Farms has 560 stores in New York, New England and Florida. The retailer has another six projects in the works in the region surrounding New York's capital, Albany. 

By comparison, Stewart's counts 337 stores in its portfolio in New York and Vermont. The retailer has been on its own growth path lately: In 2016 it spent $50 million on new c-stores and remodels. The projects included six new convenience stores, 10 replacement stores and 20 major remodels. 

Stewart's spokeswoman Maria D'Amelia told the news outlet that the chain has similar plans for 2017 — including 20 new and replacement stores, as well as 20 major remodels. It is targeting new Capital Region locations, and from the lower Hudson Valley to Central New York.

"We look at each shop location individually to determine what the needs are," D'Amelia said. "Do we see a need to grow, in size and-or product offerings, to meet the needs of our customers? Or redesign the flow of a shop to make the shopping experience easier? When it comes to a brand new location, is it somewhere we can fill a gap?"

Moving to the Midwest, Casey's General Stores Inc.'s new distribution center in Terre Haute, Ind., is spurring its growth plans. The Ankeny, Iowa-based retailer is eyeing rapid growth in Northeast Oklahoma as part of its plans to add more than 100 convenience stores across the United States, according to The Joplin Globe

The company's territory resides in a 700-mile-wide circle, with its original Iowa warehouse in the center. However, Casey's wants to build a similar territory around its new facility, the news outlet reported. 

Plans call to start in Ohio, as CSNews Online previously reported.

"I'd say over 50 percent of the expansion will be the territory out of the Terre Haute facility — plus the northeastern portion of Oklahoma," said Sam James, director of finance for the company.

In recent years, the chain has focused on building its presence in small towns that rely on one convenience store. "About 57 percent of our expansion is in towns of 5,000 or less," James told The Joplin Globe. "It's a mixture of new store construction and acquisition. A lot of times with the acquisitions, we're only one of a few companies that are looking to acquire."

In all, Casey's operates approximately 1,947 convenience stores.

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