Yesway Focuses on Small Operators in Big Growth Plan

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A Yesway convenience store

Yesway Focuses on Small Operators in Big Growth Plan

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Yesway has been boosting its presence in the convenience channel one state at a time, and its plans to grow include taking it one or two stores at a time.

Tom Trkla, CEO of Brookwood Financial Partners, told the Des Moines Register that he expects to grow c-store chain Yesway from roughly 80 stores today to 650 stores in five years.

Massachusetts-based Brookwood Financial Partners is the private equity firm behind Yesway, which calls West Des Moines home.

"We want to be well known," he noted.

According to Trkla, Yesway's growth strategy is to acquire small, profitable convenience stores — mostly mom and pop businesses — in rural and suburban markets where there's minimal competition. 

As CSNews Online previously reported, the retail chain has been building up its portfolio in several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri in 2017.

"The pipeline of stores for sale is exploding," Trkla told the Des Moines Register, adding companies with one, two or three stores that don't have succession or growth plans are ripe for buying.

Yesway is looking for stores where it can improve food offerings and operational functions. Immediate additions generally include the company's coffee brand, fresh food like sandwiches and soups, and streamlined services at check out.

The chain's challenge is bringing a new banner to markets with established names, like nearby Kum & Go LC and Casey's General Stores Inc., which are both based in Iowa.

"Everyone goes to convenience stores," said Brian Trout, Yesway's senior vice president of operations. "And the products are not all that unique. But how you treat your employees and customers can set you apart. The first rule of business is great customer service that is consistent and friendly."