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    HP Converts Vacant Illinois Gas Stations to C-Stores

    Openings represent company's first of several forays outside Chicago area.

    DECATUR, Ill. -- HP convenience stores are sprouting from vacant gas stations in central Illinois and may continue to do so in coming months, reported the Decatur-based Herald & Review.

    HP, standing for High Performance, opened one store Friday in Decatur with two more set to open next week, one more in Decatur and one in Clinton. All are located at sites formerly owned by Clark Retail Enterprises Inc.

    "We specialize in turning distressed properties into community-focused businesses," said Riz Hafeez, owner of the new Decatur HP and part owner of other HP stores in the Chicago area.

    Hafeez said HP is a family-owned company operating under the umbrella of Sandhu Petroleum Inc., based in Barrington, Ill. His uncle, Jeff Chaudhry, is principal owner of the stores opening next week.

    Both men said they are in negotiations to open more stores in the Decatur area in the near future but declined to elaborate. "We are very compatible in places neglected by the big companies," Chaudhry said.

    Hafeez said the current round of openings represents HP's first foray outside the Chicago area, where the company has opened 30 stores over the past three years. He said the gas pumps have been updated so customers can pay at the pump, and the stores will carry a full line of convenience items but no alcohol.

    "We are hiring only local people to work in our stores," Hafeez said. "We are a neighborhood business."

    Hafeez added that HP stores are sometimes confused with BP gas stations because their initials are similar and both use green in their color schemes, but there is no connection between the two. The BP logo features a sun-like symbol, while HP's resembles a cluster of three leaves.

    "It demonstrates we are environmentally friendly," Hafeez said.

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