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ANKENY, Iowa — Casey's General Stores Inc. will add online ordering to 300 stores per month, with a goal of having the option in place at all 1,878 Casey's convenience stores by the end of this calendar year, Chief Financial Officer Bill Walljasper said during the company's 2015 fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday.
"We feel confident having online ordering in all stores," Walljasper stated. "We are reaching a customer we haven't reached before. Like pay at the pump years ago, there are customers who are demanding this service."
As CSNews Online reported last month, Casey's has been testing online ordering since late 2014. Pizza, subs and related products are the primary items customers can purchase via online ordering. Several stores also allow customers to arrange pizza home delivery via Casey's online ordering service, which the company noted is performing extremely well.
In fact, Casey's plans to convert an additional 100 stores to offer pizza delivery in its fiscal year 2016, which began May 1.
A BANNER FISCAL 2015
Looking back on Casey's fiscal 2015, as well as its most recent fiscal quarter ended April 30, the Ankeny-based convenience store retailer truly had a banner year.
It's difficult to find any fault with its 2015 fiscal fourth quarter, which saw net earnings nearly double year over year to $41.3 million.
In the grocery and other merchandise category, same-store sales grew across the board, rising 9.7 percent vs. the same period in fiscal 2014, with an average margin of 32.1 percent. Same-store sales were up 13.5 percent with an average margin of 60.9 percent in the prepared food and fountain category.
Walljasper pointed to premium tobacco sales as especially strong, with in-store sales achieving a year-over-year double-digit sales gain. He said many customers are buying premium cigarettes in pack form.
Packaged beverage sales, salty snack sales and, to a lesser extent, craft beer sales were also key drivers for Casey's, the CFO cited.
Overall, Walljasper remarked that in-store basket rings continue to rise, in major part due to lower gas prices in early calendar year 2015 compared to the same time in 2014.
At the forecourt, same-store gallons sold rose 3.5 percent with an average margin of 16.9 cents per gallon during Casey's most recent quarter.
On a state-by-state basis, Walljasper marveled at how well Casey's Arkansas stores are doing, with same-store sales there nearly doubling that of the chain as a whole. The executive added that two other states Casey's recently entered, Kentucky and Tennessee, are also performing well thus far.
NEW STORE OPENINGS
Casey's opened 12 new stores in its 2015 fiscal fourth quarter ended April 30, and acquired an additional four locations. The retailer currently has 21 new stores under construction and is in contract to acquire six stores.
For all of fiscal 2016, Casey's expects to build or acquire 75 to 113 stores and replace 10 existing locations.
In addition, the c-store retailer plans to complete 100 major remodels in fiscal 2016, a program Walljasper said has been quite successful to date.
"We are very encouraged by our Major Remodel Program," he said. "In the third year [following the remodel], many stores have seen double-digit sales gains."
Casey's also continues to add stores to its 24-hour format. The retailer converted 110 stores to this format in fiscal 2015 and now has 850 stores operating 24 hours a day.
On a final note, Walljasper confirmed that the buildout of Casey's second distribution center in Terre Haute, Ind., is on schedule and expected to open in February or March of 2016.