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OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Clark Retail Enterprises Inc., the nation's 14th largest convenience store chain last year, is following the path of another dissolved company, Swifty Serve, in retaining National Real Estate Clearinghouse to auction off most of its locations.
With consent from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, NRC is selling 632 Clark convenience store and gasoline stations through a sealed bid sale scheduled for July 1. The auction block does not include the coveted White Hen Pantry stores.
"We have talked directly with Clark and with some of its lenders and it was the consensus that after Swifty Serve, it was agreed this was the process to recover the most money," NRC founder and head Evan Gladstone (pictured) told CSNews Online Thursday. [Gladstone will serving on a panel concerning bankruptcies and restructuring at next month's Convenience Store News Top 50 Forum in Quebec City.]
While NRC is offering a flexible buying approach described as a "one, some or all," Gladstone does not expect a heavyweight chain to scoop up the bulk of locations. Rather, he anticipates some 200 to 250 different parties picking up a few stores each.
"The sites aren't big enough to draw the attention of drug chains like Walgreens or some of the bigger convenience stores," he said. "They're mostly gas with kiosks or smaller stores."
Clark, which filed for bankruptcy protection last fall before announcing recently plans to liquidate, operates stores in nine states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.
"The company has a portfolio of very competitive assets and strong name brands," said Clark CEO Brandon Barnholt. "We believe these assets have strategic value for the right operator, as well as upside earnings potential for a company not hindered by Clark's liquidity issues."
Interestingly, Gladstone said that the Clark brand may not die after all. He said auction buyers could be afforded the option to license the Clark brand for a half-penny per gallon.
To learn more about the auction, go to www.nrcBid.com/305, or call 800-747-3342 ext. 305.