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NANTUCKET, Mass. -- The price to acquire convenience stores has become so lofty that Susser Holdings Corp. now plans to focus on organic growth for the remainder of this year, President and CEO Sam L. Susser said yesterday during the Jefferies Consumer Confidence Conference, which took place here.
"M&A [mergers and acquisitions] are in our wiring," Susser said. "[But] fewer and fewer chains of stores are attractive to us. Asset quality matters tremendously to us."
Therefore, Susser Holdings, parent to the Stripes c-store brand and the Laredo Taco Co. chain of quick-service restaurants, will focus on building 25 to 30 new stores this year. Susser Holdings plans to hire 800 new workers and would have about 7,300 employees by the end of the year if no external acquisitions are made.
"Not many companies can say they are adding 800 new jobs this year," Susser noted during the conference.
So, why is Susser Holdings so confident in building that many new locations? According to the CEO, it's because there's no topping Texas, the c-store chain's home state, when it comes to economic growth.
"Nantucket is beautiful. But I'd take all of my money and move it to Texas," he commented.
The chief executive said there are many factors that make Texas the best place in the United States in which to operate. He cited the fact that the Lone Star State added 600,000 jobs in the past five years, compared to job losses in most other states. Susser also pointed out that the state's politicians -- whether Democrats or Republicans -- "know that business is not a four-letter word. They know the solution for politicians is not to get too involved in business."
He also mentioned Texas' absence of a state income tax and the lack of a pronounced housing market crash as more reasons why the Texas economy is so strong.
In the future, Susser believes Texas will continue to thrive as a top business center because the state has the second-highest birth rate and the rapidly growing Hispanic population now makes up 47 percent of the state's population, compared to 16 percent countrywide.
"That's a great thing for [our] business," he said.