Year in Review: Most-Read Stories of 2020
NATIONAL REPORT — Two topics dominated the headlines in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic and the sale of Speedway LLC, the retail arm of Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC), to 7-Eleven Inc.
The coronavirus touched every aspect of the industry, pushing retailers to evaluate what they sold, how they sold it and how they could continue to serve their communities in a safe manner.
While 7-Eleven's purchase of Speedway wasn't the only notable acquisition story this year, it was by far the longest-running and most-watched, as multiple leading chains were rumored to be potential buyers.
These are the top 10 most-read headlines of Convenience Store News Online for 2020, based on website hits:
1. Homeland Security Recognizes C-stores as Essential Businesses
In March, the Department of Homeland Security released an updated COVID-19 guidance identifying the essential critical infrastructure workforce during the ongoing national emergency. Among them: convenience stores. The updated guidance followed NACS reporting that it had been working closely with state association partners to support their work to get c-stores and their supplier companies designated as essential on the state and local level.
2. What Precautions Are C-store Retailers Taking for COVID-19 Coronavirus?
Many convenience store retailers are taking exceptional precautions and educating both workers and customers about how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus that has nearly paralyzed the nation. Among the actions being taken, retailers are stepping up their cleaning, personal hygiene and sanitizing procedures; providing checklists to help store associates follow proper safety procedures to prevent the spread of the virus; and sending physical and digital notices to their customers about efforts to protect their health and well-being.
3. 7-Eleven & EG Group Reportedly Among Those Eyeing a Takeover of Speedway
Companies that were reportedly in the running as potential buyers of Speedway LLC in February included 7-Eleven's parent company Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., TDR Capital and EG Group. In August, MPC announced an agreement to sell Speedway to 7-Eleven Inc. for $21 billion in an all-cash transaction.
4. Marathon Petroleum Investing $550M in Speedway Despite Planned Spinoff or Possible Sale
Months before announcing the Speedway sale, MPC made plans to invest $550 million in its retail arm ahead of a planned spinoff. The investment focused primarily on converting c-stores MPC added to its portfolio through several acquisitions over the previous two years, including its strategic combination with Andeavor in fall 2018, to Speedway's branding and systems.
5. Couche-Tard Reportedly Positioning to Acquire Speedway
Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. was another reported contender for Speedway over the summer. According to the New York Post, Couche-Tard began the process of selling 1,250 of its sites located near Speedway stores in anticipation of competitive concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission.
6. Convenience Store News Introduces 2020 Top Women in Convenience
The seventh annual Top Women in Convenience awards ceremony celebrated 52 female leaders, including five Women of the Year, 21 Senior-Level Leaders, 22 Rising Stars and four Mentors. The honorees were chosen based on nominations received from their peers that drew from their achievements during the previous 12 months.
7. BP Thanks Local Heroes With Free Food & Fuel Discounts
BP took its turn to say "thank you" to local heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The oil producer and convenience store operator provided up to $2 million in free coffee, fountain drink or hot dogs, and fuel discounts to first responders, nurses, doctors and hospital staff as they fought to help communities healthy and safe.
8. 7-Eleven Reportedly in Exclusive Talks to Acquire Speedway
7-Eleven emerged as the reported frontrunner to purchase the convenience store chain several months after MPC stated it planned to spin off Speedway.
9. 7-Eleven Ups Franchisee Support Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic
7-Eleven committed nearly $95 million to support its franchisees as they provided their local customers the food, beverages, household essentials and other critical supplies they need in a clean and safe environment. "7-Eleven franchisees are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic serving the communities in which they operate," said Chief Franchise Officer Greg Franks. "I'm proud of the leadership and commitment to customers that each franchisee has shown since the health crisis began by providing food, beverages and other critical supplies to the communities they serve."
10. 7-Eleven Scraps Bid to Acquire Speedway
In March, Seven & i Holdings reportedly pulled out of talks to acquire Speedway due to multiple factors, including the coronavirus and Seven & i Holdings' concerns over valuations. According to inside sources, the biggest hurdle was the price.