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    Kroger Adds Car Washes to Fuel Centers

    The addition will provide an extra service for customers, the company reported.

    CINCINNATI -- The Kroger Co., operator of supermarkets and 779 convenience stores and gas stations based here, is adding automatic car washes to its growing network of fuel centers, reported Progressive Grocer, sister publication to Convenience Store News.

    The program is a partnership between Columbus-based developer Skilken Co., and was developed when the supermarket chain had difficulty finding a partner in the car wash business, according to local press reports. Skilken's 60-year track record of building stores for the company prompted it to step in and start its own car wash business.

    The first car wash -- named Ken's Car Wash, for Skilken president Ken Gold -- opened in November at the Westfield Shopping Center in Delaware, Ohio. Following that was another in Mansfield, Ohio, a month later, according to the report.

    A third Ken's Car Wash is scheduled to open in August at the Buckeye Grove Shopping Center in Grove City, Ohio. Eight more car washes are scheduled for the coming months, five in Central Ohio and three in Kroger's Delta Division, which includes Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, the report stated.

    The grocer wanted to add car washes to its fuel centers as an extra service for customers, Dale Hollandsworth, Kroger's director of integrated communication, was quoted saying in the local reports.

    Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle Inc. is already immersed in the car wash business via WetGo car wash stations, located adjacent to roughly 25 of its GetGo convenience and fuel centers, the report stated.

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