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    Commitment and Innovation Fuel Orion Growth

    Company provides food solutions to over 1,500 locations.

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Convenience store foodservice company Orion Food Systems, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., had record sales for the month and a 5 percent increase in same-store sales for the first quarter of 2004.

    Orion provides food solutions to more than 1,500 locations in the United States and abroad. Orion brands include Hot Stuff Pizza, Mean Gene's Burgers, Smash Hit Subs, Cinnamon Street Bakery, Eddie Pepper's Great Mexican Food and others.

    Des Hague, Orion's president and CEO, attributes the record growth to both a retailer commitment to quality foodservice and a team that has worked together to fill a niche in the foodservice industry. Hague, who formerly headed up foodservice for 7-Eleven Inc.'s 5,600 unit foodservice outlets, is spearheading what he calls Orion's "24/7 initiative."

    "If we take our number-one brand -- Hot Stuff Pizza for example, our 2004 strategy is to focus on programs that allows our franchise partners to grow their total pizza business," he said. "Our core business, which we call 'Classic Personal Size Pan Pizzas', sets the pace for a franchisee's potential success. We then compliment the franchisees classic sales with innovative programs to generate additional volume without cannibalizing existing business."

    A good example illustrating Hague's point is a complimentary program Orion markets as Good to Go Eats, which has been especially successful in convenience stores where customers expect fast, convenient food to accommodate their busy schedules. Larry Hill, director of foodservice for Bloomington, Minn.-based Holiday Stationstores, emphasized the importance of "drivable customer-friendly food" in convenience stores.

    Predicting the grab-n-go program's success, Hague and his team quickly followed up with the launch of a total platform to support multiple day-part food options, Hot Stuff Food Xpress. "The Xpress program," said Hague, "marries high technology cooking and space efficient merchandising and distribution to give c-stores the most sales in the least amount of space. Add on the fact that a c-store can set up a full hot grab-n-go program for less than $4K (for multiple locations) and you have the potential for some strong incremental sales."

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