WAWA, Pa. — Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa Inc., is excited for the success of the company’s expansion in Florida, as well as its future plans. But he doesn't intend to move the convenience store chain’s headquarters to the Sunshine State.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott met with Gheysens Monday at a Wawa-hosted pep rally at Philadelphia's Four Seasons to discuss the retailer's continued growth across Florida and to announce that Wawa's 2015 expansion plans in Florida are ahead of schedule.
“We heard directly from company leadership that, compared to other states, they’re finding more and more opportunities in Florida because of our efficient permitting processes. Because we are focused on eliminating redundant regulations, we've made Florida more competitive for attracting jobs like those at Wawa,” said Scott.
Since 2012, Wawa has opened 61 stores in Florida and created more than 2,100 jobs, ahead of the 40 stores planned. On April 23, Wawa will open its first store in southwest Florida, with the grand opening of three new stores in Fort Myers.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, Wawa plans to open 25 stores per year throughout the Orlando, Tampa, Southwest Coast and Daytona markets. The company also plans to break ground in Broward and Palm Beach Counties in 2016. Each new Wawa store will create more than 40 new jobs for the local community.
Gheysens noted that he expects expansion will become a bit more challenging as Wawa adds more stores in the more-congested Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties.
While Wawa is turning down Scott's invitation to move the company's headquarters to Florida — where Wawa hoagie rolls are baked locally under a deal with Amoroso’s — the chain will instead spend $75 million to add offices, research and testing kitchens at its Chester Heights, Delaware County, campus.
“On Sept. 18, 2014, we celebrated the grand opening of our 50th store in Florida, a very exciting milestone considering we opened our first store in Florida in July 2012 and quickly become a staple in the Central Florida community,” Gheysens said. “It’s thrilling to see the number of stores, locations and communities we are entering grow so quickly, but the numbers we are most proud of are the number of jobs we’ve created and the number of community organizations we’ve helped. We are committed to continuing to invest and innovate for our Florida friends and neighbors, as part of our core purpose to fulfill customers’ lives every day.”
Gheysens continued to say that not only does Florida feel like home, but it plays an integral role in the company’s overall success. “In fact, the incredible growth and reception we’ve had in the Sunshine State has allowed us to not only expand and innovate here in Florida, but revitalize and refresh in our home market. We are so grateful to all our Florida customers and partners, and look forward to delighting them in our stores in many of our new locations in the future,” the CEO said.
Wawa Inc. operates more than 680 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.