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APOPKA, Fla. -- Wawa Inc. is kicking off 2013 with the first of several convenience store openings in Florida over the next few weeks. The newest store, located in Apopka, will open its doors on Jan. 9 and become retailer's seventh location in the Sunshine State.
Wednesday's grand opening event in Apopka will include local officials, members of the Second Harvest Food Bank and community members participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony. There will also be a hoagie-building contest featuring the Apopka Police Department and the Apopka Fire and Rescue.
"2013 will be an extremely exciting year for all of us at Wawa as we continue to grow and expand aggressively into the Sunshine State," said Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens. "We are so glad to be a part of the Orlando community, adding hundreds of new associates to the Wawa family and serving our new Florida friends and neighbors with our fresh and inviting food service offer."
Wawa entered Florida last year -- the first time the Pennsylvania-based c-store chain stepped outside its Mid-Atlantic footprint. It opened its first store across from Sea World in Orlando in mid-July and five more followed in the greater Orlando area by the close of 2012.
The opening of the Apopka store will mark the beginning of Wawa's expansion run for 2013, which will include the February entry into the Tampa Bay area and an estimated 25 grand openings between the two Florida markets this year, according to the company.
Broken out by market, Wawa will open two Orlando-area stores in the first quarter and six in the second quarter. As for the Tampa Bay area, the company is planning five store openings in five weeks, beginning with the store in Pinellas Park on Feb. 8.
Between the Orlando and Tampa Bay markets, Wawa plans to open 25 stores in 2013, 25 stores in 2014 and 25 stores in 2015 and projects it will open 100 stores in Florida within the next five years. The new stores will each employ more than 50 associates.