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    Acme Expands Fuel Rewards Program

    Starting May 2, customers who buy specially marked items can earn free fuel at Circle K.

    AKRON, Ohio -- Acme Fresh Markets’ shoppers responded so positively to the grocer’s one-store pilot of its fuel rewards program that the company is rolling out the loyalty program to its 15 other stores May 2, the Beacon Journal reported.

    Last week, the Akron, Ohio-based grocery chain began signing up customers, giving them green cards that can be redeemed for gasoline at area Circle K stores.

    Acme President Steve Albrecht acknowledged the chain is hoping to increase store sales with the program. Competitor Giant Eagle has its fuelperks! program, where customers earn discounts at the chain's GetGo gas stations based on their total purchases.

    ''We definitely think there's a segment of shoppers out there who are very interested in fuel costs and saving money at the store,'' Albrecht told the Beacon Journal. ''We do hope we attract, as well as retain customers to Acme.''

    Acme piloted the program at its Parma store last month, said Jim Trout, vice president of sales and merchandising for the family-owned chain. It is different from Giant Eagle's, as Acme’s program allows customers to earn free gasoline based on products they buy.

    Each week, more than 3,000 items will be marked with green tags showing the fuel savings customers will receive if they purchase that product. Many of the items will be Acme's private label brands, but there will also be name brand products. Rewards will range from 5 cents to $20 in free fuel (on large purchases such as patio furniture), and shoppers could quickly turn savings into free tanks of gas, Trout said.

    There will be no limit on the number of reward items a customer can buy. Shoppers will have two cards—they earn savings using existing Acme Fresh Market Savings cards at the register and then within 48 hours, the free gas will be loaded onto their fuel rewards card, which can be used only for gasoline at Circle K stations. The fuel rewards card is re-loadable and only one fuel rewards card can be linked to each savings card.

    Acme's partnership with Circle K is the convenience store chain's first fuel rewards partnership in the United States or Canada, said Bill Bartolomeo, Circle K’s director of marketing for the chain’s Great Lakes division, based in Akron, Ohio. He added it's possible customers could eventually redeem free gas at Circle K locations nationwide.

    Bartolomeo said redemptions of free gas from the Parma trial have gone well, and each week the amount of free gas Acme customers were earning was increasing.

    ''Everybody is excited by how it's gone,'' he told the newspaper.

    Bartolomeo estimated there are roughly 100 Circle K stores in Northeast Ohio in the counties where Acme has stores.

    Redemption stations will have pumptoppers with the Acme Fuel Rewards logo to let customers know they can use those pumps.

    Related News:

    -- Acme, Circle K Offer Gas Rewards Program

    -- Giant Eagle Offers foodperks! Discounts With GetGo Gas

    -- Loyalty Rewards Program Membership on the Rise

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