RICHMOND, Va. -- It's been one year since GPM Investments LLC closed on its acquisition of the VPS Southeast Division, adding 263 company-operated convenience stores and 33 dealer sites to its portfolio. The move, along with smaller deals over the past few months, made GPM Investments the leader of Convenience Store News' Top 20 Growth Chains this year.
But the locally based retailer is not stopping there.
In a recent interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, CEO Arie Kotler said the company is still in a serious growth mode with plans to add about 200 more stores soon. He did not elaborate on those plans.
As GPM Investments continues to build its footprint, Kotler and his executive team -- including Chief Operating Officer Chris Giacobone and Senior Vice President of Marketing Bill Reilly -- are also boosting the company's existing stores. According to the news report, the retailer has increased its emphasis on quality meals and convenience.
"What our customers are telling us is that they're starved for time," said Reilly, a foodservice industry veteran. "That's what we respond to. We are convenience. … We embrace convenience."
Since joining the team, Reilly has put more of a focus on foodservice with the addition of quick-service restaurants like Subway and Quiznos to some locations. He has also built up GPM's proprietary foodservice brand, Red's.
"We've added variety to our menus," he said. "Fas Mart is already well-known for great fried chicken. We're adding pizza, made-to-order paninis, salads, grilled chicken and other healthy alternatives. We'll have cold food, too — plenty of road-friendly, go-go-go items."
The shift in focus comes as leading categories have experienced a dip in sales.
"Cigarette sales continue to decline," Giacobone told the newspaper. "And fuel sales decline as cars get more efficient. We needed a more sustainable strategy."
Reilly's arrival signaled the company's determination to improve its food operations. "Bill has a background as a chef and he liked what we wanted to do here," Giacobone explained. "We're not trying to confuse anybody, we're still a convenience store. We want to have quality food and do it quickly."
The efforts of the team are not going unnoticed. Mike Davis, vice president of member services at NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, said the leadership of Kotler, Giacobone and Reilly makes GPM one of the industry's strongest players.
"One of the ways to compete in this industry is to get bigger," Davis said. "But you have to be prepared for the larger scale."
With Kotler's financial savvy and Giacobone's strategic expertise, the addition of Reilly's foodservice and marketing experience puts the company in a position to continue its growth, Davis told the news outlet.
Richmond-based GPM Investments LLC operates and supplies 615 convenience stores. It operates stores in Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Tennessee. Its banners include Fas Mart, Shore Stop, Scotchman, Young's, Li'l Cricket, Everyday Shop, Breadbox and Cigarette City.