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CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. is adding gas stations to Matthews, N.C.-based Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. locations, with the first slated to open this fall in Fort Mill, S.C., and a second expected in Charlotte, N.C.
According to The Charlotte Observer, the gas station will be part of a Harris Teeter store under construction at Caldwell Road and N.C. 49 in Harrisburg, a representative from developer Aston Properties told the news outlet. A Harris Teeter spokeswoman could not provide any additional details about gas at area stores.
The addition of fuel stations at Harris Teeter locations could be another change stemming from Kroger’s acquisition of the supermarket retailer last January, the news outlet reported.
Following the acquisition, parent company Kroger implemented its own initiatives at Harris Teeter stores, including lowered prices on thousands of items at Harris Teeter stores, and this year is adding beer growlers to several North Carolina stores. At the time, Kroger said it would consider bring gas stations to Harris Teeter locations.
Kroger Chief Financial Officer Mike Schlotman has called gas stations a “big win” for Kroger, in terms of bringing more customer trips. However, he noted that many Harris Teeter stores are in urban locations with less room to open fuel centers.
As competition in the Charlotte grocery market has heated up, Harris Teeter has been taking measures like upgrading existing locations, or adding new ones close to rival stores.
Craig Rosenblum, a partner at retail consultancy Willard Bishop, said the addition of gas stations is one more way Harris Teeter can attract and retail customers in an “overwhelmingly populated” grocery market that now includes e-commerce.
“Any way you could extend reach to the consumer and drive value … the more loyal they’ll become to you,” Rosenblum said. “Most retailers tend to do very well with gas stations and tend to boost their profits by incorporating gas stations.”
Rosenblum added that some roadblocks exist in adding gas stations, like space and zoning issues, as well as competitive pricing against nearby stations. However, he noted that’s probably not enough to discourage grocers from adding them. There is also a convenience factor in having a gas station right there when customers are leaving the parking lot, he added.
Harris Teeter operates more than 50 grocery stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland and Delaware.
The Kroger Co., the largest grocery retailer in the country, operates more than 2,600 supermarkets and more than 780 convenience stores across 31 states.