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WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Seven months after selling its Southeast convenience chains, VPS Convenience Store Group is focused on growing its remaining c-store portfolio in the Midwest.
In August, VPS sold its Southeast division to GPM Investments LLC. The retail brands involved in the deal were Scotchman, Young's, Li'l Cricket, Everyday Shop, Breadbox and Cigarette City. VPS continues to operate Village Pantry and Next Door Stores. Combined, the two chains total 167 stores in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.
As the dust settles from the sale, CEO Jeff Turpin looks to life outside the Southeast. He joined the company in 1995 and ascended to his current role in 2009. In an interview with the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, Turpin, who also serves as the company's chairman, said he is always on the lookout for growth opportunities.
VPS decided to sell the Southeast division because "in this business, when the time to sell presents itself, you have to do what is best for the company as well as the employees," Turpin told the Business Journal. "The employees will join a larger company with plenty of room for growth, and we get to concentrate on other opportunities and areas to improve. In this business, you have to give the customer better value or they will go elsewhere."
As for Midwest opportunities, he explained that there is a smaller concentration of c-stores in the Midwest and VPS has the assets to grow stores much in the same way the company did in the Southeast this past decade. Better merchandising and foodservice will be a priority for initial improvement, Turpin added.
"We are going to try to improve their operations and hopefully increase profitability long term. That's the focus right now going forward," he said.
To read Turpin's complete interview with the Greater Business Journal, click here.