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    Pilot's Program Is to Sell C-Stores

    Company remodeling, planning larger sites as it focuses on travel centers.

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Several area Pilot convenience stores are transitioning to new ownership after they were sold as part of the company's plan to reorganize its convenience store business.

    According to a report in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Pilot Corp. sold 10 stores to K.J. Singh, a Virginia-based businessman whose company, Federal Business and Investment Consultants LLC, finds properties for people who want to get into the convenience store business. Seven of the 10 locations that were sold recently are in Knoxville, and three are in Blount and Loudon counties.

    Pilot Corp. CEO James Haslam III said about a year ago company officials debated whether or not they wanted to remain in the convenience store business since Pilot's primary business is its travel centers.

    Pilot, which had about 65 convenience stores in Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, decided to sell its Virginia and West Virginia stores, which left 46 stores in Tennessee.

    "We looked at Knoxville and decided approximately 10 stores did not fit our long-range plan," Haslam said. "We now have about 36 stores."

    Haslam said Pilot is building several stores in the Knoxville area with a new design that is modern and customer-friendly, with the potential for high sales volumes. The stores sold were too small and "not conducive to doing large volumes," he said. Those locations will not compete with stores that Pilot retained or ones the company plans to build.

    According to the News Sentinel, Singh said he has sold six of the stores he purchased from Pilot and will lease the other four to businessmen from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Each of Singh's locations is under a different limited liability corporation and will have a different name.

    "Even though these stores were marginal for Pilot, they will be good for us," Singh said.

    Haslam said the company's goal is to operate 50 stores in Knoxville and surrounding counties. "Right now we are looking at six to 10 more sites," he said. "To be successful you have to start with good real estate."

    New stores will be 3,000 square feet, or about twice the size of older Pilot stores.

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