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"The next two years will be extremely exciting for us," CEO Howard Stoeckel wrote on his blog, Bird's Eye View. "This summer, we will officially fly south and enter new territory, as we open our first stores in the state of Florida, located in the greater Orlando area. This is the beginning of our migration south and the development of our new 'Wawaland' in central Florida."
And the locally headquartered convenience store chain is not stopping there. Also on the company's drawing board are plans to expand its footprint in its existing markets: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.
"We are also making exciting developments right here in our core market, with a commitment to reinvest in our almost 600 Mid-Atlantic stores and through the creation of a pipeline of new stores," Stoeckel detailed.
To that end, Wawa will give the foodservice area in its stores a makeover, similar to the reinvestment initiative it completed in its coffee area two years ago, he said.
"You will see part of this reinvestment take shape through our redesigned foodservice area, which will feature a fresh, new appetizing look. Many of you will remember two years ago, we reinvested in our coffee area, replacing glass pots with new thermals and rebranding the area to bring our customers the freshest and most convenient cup of coffee available, in the most aesthetically pleasing way," Stoeckel wrote.
"Now, we will turn our attention to the foodservice area as we add new graphics and digital signage in all stores, and test the baking of rolls in approximately 40 of our stores. Later in the year, we will invest in all stores again -- adding new equipment enabling us to add a full line of built-to-order specialty beverages, including espressos and cappuccinos."
Stoeckel explained that the change is good and will keep Wawa relevant as a retailer.
"For us, change and reinvention is a solid part of our history. So, while we treasure our legacy stores still with us today, we could not continue to grow and reinvest back into our communities if we were still building smaller stores without fuel," he noted.
Moving forward, Wawa plans to open 15 to 20 stores annually in the Mid-Atlantic market for the next several years. Some of those stores will be relocations of existing stores and others will be new stores in areas underserved by Wawa, according to Stoeckel.
He further acknowledged that Wawa's plans for new stores have faced some community opposition lately, adding that the c-store retailer is committed to listening to communities and addressing their concerns head-on.
"We do not believe in a cookie-cutter approach to entering communities and will always do what we can to modify plans and make enhancements to meet the specific needs of each community we serve. We will do everything in our power to demonstrate our commitment to being a good neighbor," Stoeckel wrote. "We have much to offer your community and look forward to building lasting community partnerships and customer relationships and continuing to evolve to meet your needs. Ultimately our goal is to bring the jobs, the commerce and community partnerships that will make us a true community asset in every area we serve."