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TULSA, Okla. -- QuikTrip has always been synonymous with growth, and that's never been truer than right now. The Tulsa-based chain added 21 stores between December 2010 and December 2011 for a 3.7-percent increase in store count -- and this year, its sights are set even higher.
"If everything goes the way we hope, we expect to open more stores this year than we ever have before," said Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip's manager of public and government affairs. Although he wouldn't divulge any specific numbers, he said "it will be substantial."
QuikTrip actually opened 36 stores in 2011, including four scrap-and-rebuilds. But it also closed some locations and sold eight sites, resulting in the net 21-store addition.
2012 is off to a fast start for QT. Currently, QuikTrip has 44 stores under construction. The overwhelming majority of them are "Gen 3" stores, the retailer's newest store design.
Gen 3 stores are larger than QuikTrip's previous models, have multiple entrances and offer outdoor seating. Inside, customers find an expansive array of hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages, along with a large selection of QT Kitchens single-serve and take-home prepared foods, plus a specialty beverage and soft-serve yogurt/ice cream bar staffed by associates.
Going forward, where it can, all new builds will be Gen 3, according to Thornbrugh.
"They're very well-received," he said. "Let's be honest, everybody likes bright, new and different. But where we're going into our more-established areas, the consumer response has been overwhelming. The numbers in transactions will tell the true story, and that's working."
Last year, five of the stores QuikTrip opened were Gen 3. To date, Thornbrugh said the new store model is either open or under construction in the following QT markets: Tulsa, Kansas City, Wichita, Iowa, Arizona, Dallas-Fort Worth and St. Louis.
The company is not only expanding in store size and count, but its operational footprint is growing, too. QuikTrip now operates in 10 states, but that figure is set to increase to 11 when the company soon opens its first store in North Carolina. The Charlotte location -- also a Gen 3 store -- is scheduled to open sometime in March.
As for why QT is experiencing such tremendous growth now, Thornbrugh simply said, "We're QuikTrip. We continuously try to improve, and new stores give us the opportunity to do that."