NATIONAL REPORT -- When Convenience Store News spoke with leaders from GPM Investments LLC in fall 2012, all agreed that the Richmond, Va.-based company was setting itself up for strategic growth. They weren't kidding. By summer 2013, the operator of Fas Mart and Shore Stop convenience stores had let its intention to stake a strong presence in the Southeast be known -- loud and clear.
In a surprise move in June, GPM Investments inked a deal to acquire VPS Convenience Store Group's Southeast division and form a whole new division, GPM Southeast. The move gave GPM 264 company-operated units plus 33 dealer locations. Retail brands involved in the deal were Scotchman, Young's, Li'l Cricket, Everyday Shop, Breadbox and Cigarette City.
Broken out by brands, the company's portfolio now includes 17 Breadbox locations, 17 Everyday Shop locations, 74 Li'l Cricket locations, 120 Scotchman locations, 32 Young's locations and three Cigarette City locations. The newly formed GPM Southeast, based in Wilmington, N.C., also boasts a foodservice portfolio of 26 branded quick-service restaurant locations and 46 proprietary delis, said Chris Giacobone, chief operating officer of GPM Investments.
The retailer, however, did not stop there. In a smaller move, GPM acquired five convenience stores from Hurst Harvey Oil. The GET & ZIP stores, all with branded fuels, are in northern Virginia -- the same area where GPM Investments already operates 55 Fas Mart locations.
These two actions, which both became official in August, pushed GPM Investments to the top of the CSNews Top 20 Growth Chains list this year. GPM is the top grower based on percentage increase by a wide margin, while 7-Eleven Inc. is the top grower based on numbers of stores added, eking out GPM by only two stores: 258 to 256.
Store count figures provided to CSNews by TDLinx, a service of Nielsen, show that GPM upped its holdings by more than 120 percent, growing from 212 stores in January 2013 to 468 in December 2013. While all 468 are company-operated, GPM also has 127 dealer-operated sites.
This is the third year that CSNews has partnered with TDLinx to identify the c-store retailers that added the most convenience stores in the past year. TDLinx defines a convenience store as a store that includes a broad merchandising mix, extended hours of operation and a minimum of 500 SKUs. Fueling stations with small kiosk stores do not meet the official definition of a c-store and thus are not reflected in TDLinx’s store count figures.
This year's Top 20 Growth Chains added 1,080 stores to their portfolios year over year. Nine companies have earned a spot on the CSNews list all three years.
To find out who else made this year's list, check out the March issue of Convenience Store News.