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SARASOTA SPRINGS, N.Y. — One New York convenience store chain has big plans for the future.
Stewart's Shops Corp. has set a $30-million capital budget for expansion and new store construction, according to the Albany Business Review.
Part of the retailer's plans call for renovating existing c-stores as it outfits more locations with the tools necessary for a larger selection of pizza, soups, salads and other food-to-go items, the fastest growing segment of the business.
"If you don't reinvest in the business you die," said Chad Kiesow, Stewart's gas marketing manager, who also has begun overseeing many of the company's facilities and construction operations.
According to the news report, Stewart's weathered the recession five years ago by investing roughly $15 million a year on store remodels and expansions. At one point, the company was renovating stores at a pace of one per week for two consecutive years.
This year, the company invested $30 million upgrading 20 stores.
For 2016, Stewart's capital improvements budget is expected to top $30 million if the company is able to receive approvals from the communities where it wants to build, the report added.
The retailer's investment comes as it moves to meet changing shopper demands and habits. It built a kitchen at its dairy plant and warehouse, and has hired more staff to prepare chili, salads, pre-packaged meals and crockpot items.
"People no longer eat three squares a day," Kiesow told the business outlet. "They are doing a lot more picking throughout the day."
There also is an increased demand for frozen dinners as more people are finding they have less time to sit down to a traditional meal, he added.
Saratoga Springs-based Stewart's operates 332 convenience stores in upstate New York and southern Vermont.