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    A&W Restaurants Making Push in Gas/Convenience Market

    Chain plans 12 new locations for this year.

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — Fresh on the heels of revenue and store-count growth, A&W Restaurants is kicking its move into the convenience channel into high gear.

    The Lexington-based chain has launched what it is calling "an aggressive development program." It includes a new franchising website, the hiring of a public relations firm, increased advertising and greater visibility at trade shows.

    The efforts are part of its gas and convenience store franchise sales initiative. 

    According to the company, its 625-restaurant portfolio in the United States includes 87 A&Ws in the convenience channel. Fifteen of those c-store units opened in the past five years and 12 are planned to welcome customers this year. 

    As A&W recently reported, sales are outpacing the industry, with standalone locations — which include c-store units — up more than 28 percent the past five years. Restaurants co-branded with KFC and Long John Silver's are up 20 percent.

    "From day one our goal was to grow profitable sales, and thanks to our franchise partners' commitment, perseverance and passion, we have accomplished that," President and CEO Kevin Bazner said. "Today, our franchisees are more profitable than ever before, which sets the stage for a new phase of growth."

    A&W, the country's oldest restaurant chain, was previously owned by YUM! Brands for nine years before a core group of franchisees purchased the brand five years ago. Bazner, A&W's president prior to the YUM! acquisition, returned to lead the company.

    "While some chains are pulling out of the gas and convenience market, A&W is vigorously pursuing it," Bazner said. "A&W is a fresh alternative to other brands, and we offer operators flexibility that helps them succeed. And unlike many chains that are now owned by equity groups, A&W's owners have no exit strategy, allowing us to continue to make long-term decisions and investments."

    There are 1,100 A&W locations worldwide.

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