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    Sun Capital Details Acquisition Plans

    Recent purchases of two Carolina chains establish the company's presence in the region.

    By Mehgan Belanger

    BOCA RATON, Fla. -- When private investment firm Sun Capital expanded its c-store portfolio into the Southeastern U.S. by purchasing 124-unit Worsley Cos. and signing agreements to buy 88-unit Li'L Cricket convenience chain, speculation rose that Sun Capital's original convenience asset, Village Pantry, would take over those operations.

    However, that speculation is false, Dave Bleckman, principal with Sun Capital, told CSNews Online.

    "There's no plan to do that," he said, adding, "We'll keep the names the way they are, they have good market presence."

    However, there will be organizational changes within both companies. As previously announced, Jeffrey W. Turpin, a 13-year veteran of Worsley, was appointed to the role of president and CFO, effective immediately.

    Additionally, Turpin will lead the Southeast region, and report directly to Sun Capital, similar to Sun's Midwest region, headed up by Mick Parker of Village Pantry.

    "There's two regions operated under one holding company," Bleckman told CSNews Online. "The Midwest is run by Mick, the Southeast by Jeff."

    As for Li'L Cricket's place in the region, Bleckman said the chain will be a part of the group, but declined to specify if the chain would fall under Turpin's lead.

    However, according to sources familiar with the transaction, Li'L Cricket is likely to be merged into Worsley's operations.

    At the store level, "no particular major changes have been contemplated," Bleckman said, noting that Sun Capital hopes to grow and invest in both chains, and improve service offerings inside through new merchandising strategies.

    And further expansion in both regions and beyond is a definite possibility for Sun Capital.

    "We bought Village Pantry with Marsh Supermarkets in September 2006. We decided to spin Village Pantry out and focus on it and invest. Since then, we've done a bunch [of acquisitions]," he said. "Now have done two in the Southeast and we've been trying to meet with in the territory and let them know we are buyers."

    Once Sun Capital has a presence in a region, it will look at chains as small as eight to 10 locations. When it wants to enter a new geography, the company requires a bigger initial platform, in the range of 40 to 50 stores, according to Bleckman.

    "We really would look at any region with a decent size," he said. "The Midwest and Southeast region, while different in several regards, complement each other."

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