The Shakeup Came
Last year, the headline of the Convenience Store News Top 100 report proclaimed: “Steady for Now, but Shakeup Coming.” Well, the shakeup came.
Whereas in 2014, the top six companies retained their same spots year over year, only one company in the entire top 10 this year stayed put. All the rest traded places, with Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) making the most significant move, jumping up from No. 9 to No. 4.
Over the past year, ETP closed on its acquisition of Susser Holdings Corp. whose retail operations consisted of 600-plus Stripes and Sac-N-Pac convenience stores. ETP also formed a new wholly owned subsidiary known as Sunoco LP, which makes its Top 100 debut separately this year at No. 9 on the list. ETP is in the process of dropping down to Sunoco LP all of its retail assets, including the fuel marketing, distribution and retail assets of Sunoco Inc.
Once completed, Sunoco LP will have ownership of the Sunoco wholesale and retail businesses, as well as c-stores acquired from Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores, Susser Holdings, Tiger Management Group (Tigermarket brand), Aloha Petroleum Ltd. and, most recently Westex Capital Ltd. (Pico brand). Combined, ETP and Sunoco LP have 6,683 locations.
Other big Top 100 movers this year are Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which climbed from No. 4 to No. 2, and Marathon Petroleum Corp., which moved into the No. 5 slot, up from seventh last year. Acquisitions — the biggest deals of the past year, in fact — drove these changes.
Circle K parent Couche-Tard purchased The Pantry Inc. and its 1,500 Southeast Kangaroo Express convenience stores, while Marathon Petroleum’s retail division Speedway LLC purchased the retail network of Hess Corp. and its 1,200-plus convenience stores. Prior to being acquired, The Pantry was the 11th largest U.S. c-store chain by store count and Hess was the 13th largest, according to the Top 100 report published by CSNews in 2014.
Despite these mega mergers, 7-Eleven Inc. managed to keep its distinction as the largest convenience store chain in the United States for at least another year. With 8,124 stores, 7-Eleven leads No. 2 Couche-Tard in store count by a margin of 2,751 locations.
The CSNews Top 100 is the industry’s longest-running accounting of the largest convenience store chains by store count. The annual report is compiled in partnership with TDLinx, a service of Nielsen. TDLinx defines a convenience store as a small-format store of at least 800 square feet; with 500 to 1,500 SKUs; that operates at least 13 hours a day; and carries a limited selection of grocery items, including at least two of the following: toilet paper, soap, disposable diapers, pet food, breakfast cereal, tuna fish, toothpaste, ketchup and canned goods.
Once again, this year’s Top 100 is bigger and better than ever. Like last year, we count down the top 100 convenience store chains; the top 20 chains in company-operated stores; the top 20 chains in franchised/licensed stores; new additions (companies that cracked this year’s Top 100); drop-offs (companies that fell off this year’s list); and the 10 companies on the cusp (Nos. 101–110 in store count). New this year, we’ve also added the biggest movers (companies that saw the most significant changes in rank), as well as online bonus content including ones to watch (smaller chains with big ideas), and regional breakouts: Northeast, South, Midwest and West.
In addition, this year’s Top 100 report includes profiles on each of the 10 largest retailers, along with analyses into the competitive environment 7-Eleven faces to keep its No. 1 spot; the future of Couche-Tard & The Pantry: The New No. 2; and the outlook for even more M&A action.
According to TDLinx store count figures, this year’s top 100 chains operate 66,524 stores. These chains represent 43.5 percent of the industry’s total stores, and the top 10 chains alone represent 27.7 percent of the industry’s stores with 42,396 units.