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    Spinx Pins Future on Acquisitions, Food Sales

    Retailer doesn't rule out building new stores.

    GREENVILLE, S.C. -- As the economic climate took a turn, The Spinx Co. changed its growth plan, moving from building its own stores to acquiring existing retail convenience stores and building its foodservice program.

    "We're still very entrepreneurial," Stan Storti, chief financial and marketing officer for Spinx, told GreenvilleOnline.com. But "when the economy turned, we waited to see what would happen."

    The company recently bought 10 stores from Enmark Stations; one has been resold and six will be rebranded and re-imaged Spinx, the news organization reported.

    Spinx Co.'s growth appears to run counter to the national trend. Last year, the number of convenience stores nationwide fell 0.2 percent, the report stated. Spinx, with 73 stores, plans to again build rather than buy "when the market is not providing enough strong acquisition opportunities," Storti said, whenever that might be.

    Despite the tough economy, Spinx is" investing a lot in our existing locations," he said. "Our priority is to fix what we've got and look for strong acquisitions."

    A few years ago, Spinx was "a much more diversified company," with real estate, convenience store, transportation and wholesale interests, he said. The company owned several fast-food restaurant franchises, all of which have been sold or closed.

    At that time, company officials looked at what they wanted Spinx Co. to become, he told Greenville Online. "We really wanted to be world-class operators in convenience. Real estate also was important to us," leading the chain to "slim down and focus."

    Storti added: "We are aspiring to be much more than a gas station. Gas profits are important to us, but over the past five years, we decided to make them irrelevant. We believe the right approach is to build irresistible offerings in the store and break dependence on fuel profits.

    "Gasoline fuels our economy, but coffee, food and snacks fuel our economy, too," he said.

    To bring more people into the store, Spinx is focusing on -- and devoting more resources to -- its foodservice operation. Currently, 22 stores provide fresh food; the goal is to provide fast food in all stores. Foodservice items provides some 17 percent of revenues, according to the report.

    The goal is to generate $7,000 a week per store in food sales, he was quoted as saying. The stores are approximately 30 percent below that goal now.

    "Food is a unique opportunity for us," Storti said. Five years ago, the menu was limited to fried chicken and a few other items. Last year, the chain piloted its Fresh on the Go menu, which includes salads, cut fruit and other healthy food options.

    Because Spinx wants customers to find what they want in all stores, the company is experimenting with taking Fresh on the Go foods and some hot foodservice items to stores that don't have kitchens, he told GreenvilleOnline.com.

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