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    Stewart's Shops Profits Up, Revenues Down

    Convenience store chain plans to grow in 2010 and rebuild existing stores.

    SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- While lower gas prices caused overall sales to fall in 2009 at the Stewart's Shops convenience store chain, based here, in-store sales and profits increased, according to a report by the Albany Business Review, which quoted company officials.

    Total sales for the 327-unit chain last year were $1.26 billion, down slightly from the $1.3 billion generated in 2008. Stewart's sold more gasoline in 2009 than the prior year, but revenues were down due to lower prices, said Tom Mailey, spokesman.

    Operating profits were up roughly 10 percent, partly due to a shift from selling national brand products to those with the Stewart's private label, Gary Dake, company president, said in the report. The company also spent less on utilities for its stores and on gas for its delivery fleet, thanks to a decline in energy prices, according to the report.

    "Our stability means we have continued growth vs. making any drastic operational changes or layoffs," Dake said in the report. "We also expect to increase our number of shops in 2010, as well as renovate and rebuild more of our existing shops."

    The company's financial performance equated to an 8-percent appreciation in one-third of the company stock owned by employees, according to the newspaper. The company contributed $11 million to its retirement plan, which is a 100 percent company-paid benefit.

    Meanwhile, Stewart's Shops' annual Holiday Match program generated $630,000 in donations from customers, which totaled $1.26 million after Stewart's matched the donation, to be donated to local children's charities.

    The company operated one additional store in 2009.

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