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    Fas Mart on Fast Track with More Acquisitions, New Programs in Pipeline

    Regional c-store chain building foundation for growth.

    WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- More than 500 store, district and regional managers, office staff and top executives of Fas Mart Shore Stop convenience stores gathered here on the edge of the Colonial Restoration for the retailer's seventh annual Trade Show this week. The theme of the show and meeting was "Make It A Blockbuster Year -- 2007."

    And, with the $47.5 million acquisition of 70 Sweet Oil stores due to be finalized next Wednesday (March 7), Fas Mart doesn't appear to be slowing down in the year ahead. Addressing employees and vendors, president and CEO Dave McComas announced that three additional acquisitions "are in the pipeline." The three deals include a $1.8 million deal expected to close within the next 30 days, a $17 million acquisition and a larger $45 million deal.

    McComas proudly discussed the improved state of the company's finances. Since emerging from Chapter 11 on March 20, 2003, the retailer's profits have steadily improved from $4 million that year to $4.7 million in 2004, $9.7 million in 2005 and $12 million in 2006. Also, he proclaimed this year's targeted profit goal of $15.6 million within reach "if we deliver on our brand promise 24/7."

    "Today, our balance sheet is carrying zero debt," said McComas. "We received an equity infusion from our owners (Israel-based GMUL Investments, which acquired the company last March) and we are expecting another infusion next month."

    Besides the financial muscle to make acquisitions, the company is also investing in its current base of over 200 stores. This year, the retailer has upped its capital investment budget to $6 million, from last year's $3.6 million in capital spending. That money will be used for various upgrades, such as installing new, 42-inch wide-screen, electronic menu boards in 20 stores this spring, adding a second roller grill in 120 stores, and refreshing the look of the checkout, cold vault and exterior of existing stores.

    Picking up on the "Blockbuster" theme, vice president of sales and marketing Russ Quick took the stage outfitted in a white tuxedo a la Agent 007 James Bond to hand out "Oscars" -- awards to employees and vendors of the year. He also discussed the chain's key sales initiatives and goals for 2007, including:

    -- Rolling out the new loyalty card program tested in Shore Stop stores last year, to all stores in 2007.
    -- Plans to follow-up a phenomenal year in cigarettes and OTP with another strong year in both categories.
    -- Strong growth in bottled water sales, and,
    -- Build on the success of its multi vendor endcap program in snacks.

    While acknowledging the accomplishments of the past year, McComas -- dressed in formal tails for the occasion -- proclaimed that "2007 is going to be the most exciting year we've ever had."

    Fas Mart is owned by GPM Investments, LLC, headquartered near Richmond, Va. Excluding the recent acquisition, it operates over 153 convenience stores in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and North Carolina. The company operates under the Fas Mart brand in Virginia and New England and the Shore Stop brand in the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, and the state of Delaware, commonly referred to as the Delmarva Peninsula.

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