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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Kum & Go LC experienced an incredible growth spurt in 2012, opening a record 43 new stores in nine states. But don't expect the locally based convenience store retailer to rest on its laurels, as Kum & Go is moving full steam ahead into 2013 and beyond.
"We are going to be just as aggressive in our growth for 2013 and beyond," David Miller, Kum & Go's chief marketing officer, told CSNews Online. "As long as we have what we believe is a successful business model that endures that type of sustainable growth, we are going to keep building new locations. "
Miller explained that breaking another growth record is not necessarily one of Kum & Go's main goals for this new year. "We are not necessarily saying that we are going to break 2012 [numbers]; we just set that record,” he said. “But we have a very high number of stores we want to build next year."
"The 2012 new-store, new-location growth was a culmination of many months and even years in the planning that happened to come together in the year 2012," Miller said. "We knew we had a big goal to achieve and we're glad that we were able to build 43 locations in 12 months."
The c-store operator found success in the new markets it entered in 2012: Little Rock, Ark., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
"They are going very well for us," Miller reported. "I think in both markets, the stores and the brand have been well received by our customers. We've seen almost immediately positive growth in all our new store locations. We continue to want to focus on those sites for the foreseeable future."
The company’s top marketing executive remained tight-lipped when asked what, if any, new markets are in Kum & Go’s future. However, Miller did say the company is always scouring the country including existing markets and those where Kum & Go does not have a store presence today.
"We always then do a detailed analysis of where a potential new market may be. But we have not made a conscious decision to announce where a new market may be yet," he noted.
Whatever new market Kum & Go taps for new store openings will benefit from the company's decision.
"In total, we've directly created over 800 new jobs at Kum & Go and countless new career opportunities -- not to mention the new store economic impact of supporting jobs in construction, including electricians, plumbers and more. In tough economic times, when others are letting people go, we're hiring," said Kum & Go's President and CEO Kyle J. Krause, adding that each new store costs more than $4 million to build -- totaling more than $170 million for 2012 alone.
Krause credits the company's unique approach to convenience retailing for its success.
"We build a different kind of convenience store," he explained. "Our new stores are spacious -- 5,000 square feet vs. our previous design of 3,500 square feet. They're comfortable for our guests, with wide aisles, attractive designs and plenty of lighting. The larger footprint also allows us to offer a wider variety of freshly made food, including made-to-order pizzas, deli sandwiches and baked goods -- all made daily at each store's on-site kitchen."
All of the new Kum & Go stores built in 2012 follow the retailer's new prototype, which also puts an increased focus on sustainability. Of the new prototype stores Kum & Go has built since 2011, 17 are LEED certified, another 19 have been submitted for certification and 28 are registered.
"As part of our sustainability, we offer many types of different biofuel options, including both E10 and E85 ethanol products," Krause said. "These fuel options support our local agricultural economies while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. At the same time, we're a leader in auto diesel, with more than two-thirds of our locations offering auto diesel at the pump."
The company's social responsibility also includes giving back to its communities. Kum & Go shares 10 percent of its profits with charitable and educational causes each year. Members of the Kum & Go team are also encouraged to give of their time to important local causes.