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    Irving Oil Spreads Into Massachusetts

    Company's two flagship Mainway stores should open by next summer.

    BOSTON -- Since opening locations in Amesbury, Salem and Wakefield, Mass., earlier this year, Canadian-based Irving Oil is planning to gain an even stronger toehold in the Massachusetts gasoline market, reported the Boston Globe.

    In late August, the company took over the Sunoco station off Route 110 at the Amesbury-Salisbury line. The company has four franchise Irving gas stations in Massachusetts, including one in Chelsea and one in Middleton, run by independent operators. In addition to Amesbury, Irving has two flagship Irving Mainway stores on the drawing board for Salem and Wakefield, both of which should be up and running by next summer.

    Irving Oil, which owns a refinery in St. John, New Brunswick, is a familiar name to drivers in New Hampshire and Maine. The company's U.S. operations are based in Portsmouth, N.H., and it has a marine terminal location in Revere that sells marine fuel to the retail market and gasoline wholesale.

    By putting energy into its convenience stores as well as its petroleum products, Irving Oil is riding the tide of a change in the way gasoline is marketed and sold to the American public, said Paul O'Connell, the executive director for the New England Service Station & Automotive Repair Association.

    "Twenty years ago the oil companies were only interested in selling gasoline so they basically gave away their locations for cheap rent to guys who wanted to run auto repair shops alongside the gas pumps," O'Connell said. "But as the value of real estate has increased, the gas companies discovered they could make more money selling coffee and bakery items than in the repair shop rent, so that's when they turned to the convenience store model."

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