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    Am/pm Comes To Pittsburgh

    BP puts price tags on 34 Connect-branded c-stores that will be transitioned to the am/pm brand after closing.

    PITTSBURGH -- BP, with the assistance of NRC Realty Advisors, will franchise 34 BP-branded gas stations with BP Connect c-stores here. The buyers will initially operate the locations under the company's Connect banner, but will undergo a rebranding to the company's am/pm brand after closing the sales.

    The rebranding effort aligns with BP's plan to expand the am/pm name to reach additional consumers. Convenience Store News reported in August that the company plans to move the am/pm name east and transition its stores from company-operated to franchisee-operated.

    "It's a matter of where we put our resources," Scott Dean, a BP spokesperson, told CSNews at the time. "The best strategy for continued growth of our retail brand is to put more real estate into the hands of independent jobbers or franchisees.

    "The am/pm model has a proven international track record and is very strong on the competitive West Coast," he added. "We will take the best of BP Connect's Wild Bean Café offer and integrate it into the am/pm offer."

    In addition to the 34 future am/pm franchises, BP is offering seven other Pittsburgh-area sites as dealer-owned and operated BP-branded stations that will include buildings, fixtures and real property, in addition to eight additional properties for sale for other commercial use.

    "The BP brand is distinctive in the Pittsburgh area," said Hope Mineo, managing director of NRC. "We are thrilled to continue to assist BP in accelerating the expansion of its franchise brands. This is a great 'ground floor' franchising opportunity. Franchisees become a part of am/pm branding and own the real estate, bricks and mortar of the business."

    The introduction of the am/pm name in the Eastern U.S. in areas such as Indianapolis and Pittsburgh will leverage the brands market experience and recognition in the Western U.S. and abroad, NRC stated. The Western U.S. is home to approximately 1,000 franchisee-owned or operated am/pm stores. The am/pm name also is present in nearly 2,000 locations in Brazil, Japan and Mexico.

    "Our goal is to build and recruit a franchise network East of Rockies that complements our already distinctive BP brand," said Ben Amante, BP's vice president of franchising in the U.S. "We are offering franchise buyers the rare opportunity to purchase a franchise with real estate rights. We also see an opportunity to reflect the diverse communities where we operate by appealing to minority business people looking to franchise in the community. We look forward to building a strong network of franchisees to help us grow our business and deliver our products and services to more consumers."

    The sites are being sold through NRC's sealed bid process, which must be reviewed by March 13. For additional information on the sites and the bidding process, contact NRC at (800) 747-3342, ext. 702, or www.nrc.com/702.

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