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Wawa Reveals Plans to Spread Its Wings in the Southeast

The convenience retailer will open up to 40 c-stores in four markets in the region.
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WAWA, Pa. — With plans to double its footprint within the next decade, Wawa Inc. is zeroing in on the Florida Panhandle region, along with adjacent markets in south Alabama.

The convenience retailer "is actively looking" into sites for new stores in the Florida markets of Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee, along with Mobile, Ala. Wawa currently plans to open up to 40 convenience stores in these markets. The first stores are expected to welcome customers in 2024.

"Over the years, we've been delighted to hear from so many people from so many areas, who are interested in having a Wawa closer to home. We couldn't be more excited to bring Wawa's one-of-a-kind brand and offering to these new markets in the near future," said John Poplawski, vice president of real estate for Wawa. "We look forward to expanding beyond our current reach and serving these new markets with our quality fresh food and beverages and, as always, our deep commitment to the communities in which we operate."

This summer will mark the 10th anniversary of Wawa's entry into Florida. The retailer welcomed customers at the first store, across from SeaWorld Orlando, on July 18, 2012. At the time, then-CEO Howard Stoeckel said the move down the east coast was 10 years in the making.

Over the past decade, Wawa has expanded throughout the state and will open its 250th convenience store in the Sunshine State later this year. In all, Wawa employs almost 10,000 associates in Florida.

Network Expansion

Wawa also plans to grow in its existing markets and is slated to open 54 new stores in 2022. It also plans to enter new adjacent markets in the next few years.

CEO Chris Gheysens recently told the Business Journal that the retailer is preparing for its "most aggressive growth" in the company's history. As a result, the retailer will just about double its store count in the next decade.

Today, locally based Wawa operates roughly 965 c-stores throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. It wants to operate approximately 1,800 locations by 2030, eventually cutting the ribbon on up to 100 c-stores a year.

In addition, the retailer is scouting sites to make its entrance into North Carolina, as Convenience Store News reported last month. It will mark Wawa's first new market since setting up shop in Washington, D.C. in late 2017.

Wawa's growth will be made up of a combination of traditional and non-traditional stores — including potential rest stop-style stores positioned off I-95. The convenience retailer will also continue to build new standalone drive-thru stores and plans to open two in Pennsylvania this year, with additional standalone drive-thru stores slated to open in Florida next year.

Wawa opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. It celebrated the 58th anniversary of its first on April 14.

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