West Oil Sells Stores, Exits Convenience Retail Business
HARTSVILLE, S.C. — West Oil Inc. will leave the convenience retail industry following the sale of its 25 Markette convenience stores and one Lotto Land c-store to FR Refuel LLC, a portfolio company of First Reserve, a global private equity investment firm that focuses exclusively on energy.
The sale also includes two car wash properties and three vacant lots for future development. Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc. advised West Oil on the transaction.
The c-stores are primarily located in northeastern South Carolina. Fourteen sell Shell-branded fuel and the remaining 12 carry the proprietary West Fuel oil brand. In-store offerings include a full array of convenience merchandise, with six stores also having proprietary deli offerings.
FR Refuel is acquiring the fee simple interest in 25 of the stores and a leasehold interest in the remaining property as part of the deal.
West Oil began operations in 1964 when Lee West founded the company in Hartsville. In 1973, he and his son Alexander West Senior opened their first retail store. Alexander West (Lex) Junior joined the family business in 1989, when the chain had grown to 15 c-stores. In 2003, Lex West and his partner Reginald (Bunky) Joyce III finalized the buyout of West Oil from Alexander West Senior.
In 2009, the company introduced its proprietary fuel brand, West Oil, to diversify its fuel supply sources.
"It was not an easy decision to sell a family run business of 40 years. My grandfather and father built a strong foundation for the growth of the Markette brand. That growth would not have been possible without our outstanding employees and loyal customers," said Lex West. "Bunky and I wanted to ensure that the new owners valued the family-oriented culture of Markette and upheld the values of excellence in customer service and commitment to community service. Matrix assisted us in finding new owners that fit the bill.
"In addition, Matrix provided strong support and professional guidance through every step of the process to ensure a smooth transition to the next phase. Matrix was the right choice for us," he continued.
Hartsville-based West Oil also owns a propane distribution business, multiple wine and spirits shops and a mini storage business and owns and develops other real estate. Shareholders decided to exit the c-store business to diversify their wealth and focus on other business ventures, according to the announcement.