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    The Pantry Closes Stores

    Sluggish economy also dampens chain's growth frenzy.


    SANFORD, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc., operator of more than 1,300 convenience stores in 10 states, said it has closed seven stores and opened one during the first during the first quarter of 2002, according to the company's quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

    The convenience store operator said that, historically, it has closed stores that are underperforming in terms of volume and profitability and, generally, it benefits from the closures through reduced overhead expenses and eliminating certain fixed costs.

    The filing didn't indicate whether the stores closed in the first quarter were underperforming or if The Pantry expects to benefit financially from the latest shuttering. The company said it has reduced substantially the pace of acquisitions given current market conditions, and it expects to acquire only a few stores in fiscal 2002.

    However, the company said, that doesn't represent a change in its long-term strategic direction and it plans to continue to acquire chains located in its own and contiguous markets when the economic environment is favorable again.

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