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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- 2013 marked another exciting year for the convenience store industry. Some c-store retailers made major changes to their operating practices, while others coped with unexpected legal difficulties. Suppliers, meanwhile, got creative in marketing their wares to an audience that is changing the way it views c-stores.
In this annual Year in Review, CSNews Online looks back at the top 10 news stories of the year, based on total page views from CSNews.com.
1) FBI Shuts Down Pilot Flying J Headquarters
The entire convenience and trucking industry took notice in April when the FBI locked down Pilot Flying J's headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., during the execution of a search warrant. It soon emerged that the travel center and travel plaza chain stood accused of shorting trucking companies on earned fuel rebates. In November, Pilot Flying J settled a class-action lawsuit over the discrepancies for approximately $72 million. Click here to view the original story.
2) Feds Raid 14 7-Eleven Stores
Federal authorities seized 14 7-Eleven stores in Long Island and Virginia in June, charging nine owners and managers with harboring and hiring illegal immigrants and paying them using fake social security numbers. At the same time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., were investigating 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere. Click here to view the original story.
3) 7-Eleven Rolls Out AriZona's New 'Soda Shaq' in a Big Way
Retired basketball star Shaquille O'Neal partnered with 7-Eleven Inc. and AriZona Beverages to launch the Soda Shaq cream soda line nationwide. The summertime marketing campaign invited customers to "Try It on for Size" by placing their feet inside decals of O'Neal's size 23 shoes, taking a photo and posting it online to win prizes via social media. Click here to view the original story.
4) Hess to Exit Retail Business
In March, Hess Corp. announced its intention to spin off or sell its retail division, consisting of approximately 1,361 convenience stores and gas stations. The move followed investor group Elliott Management Corp.'s purchase of a 4-percent stake in Hess and was accompanied by the announcement that the company would also exit the energy marketing and energy trading businesses. Click here to view the original story.
5) 7-Eleven Puts 139 C-store Properties on the Market
7-Eleven tapped NRC Realty & Capital Advisors to help sell 139 convenience stores and/or gas stations without 7-Eleven branding. Of the properties, 83 were in Texas, 31 in Florida, 11 in Ohio, eight in Pennsylvania, five in Utah and one in Wisconsin. 7-Eleven's Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions Robbie Radant cited an inability to fit in with 7-Eleven's business model as the reason for the sale. Click here to view the original story.
6) More Guilty Pleas Entered in Pilot Flying J Case
Multiple former Pilot Flying J executives pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and conspiracy in federal court following the raid on the company’s headquarters. In June, three former regional sales managers entered guilty pleas in exchange for providing information in the case. Click here to view the original story.
7) Cooper-Booth Wholesale Files for Bankruptcy
Cooper-Booth Wholesale Co., which delivered to convenience stores across the Mid-Atlantic, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Philadelphia in May. The company owed about $10.7 million in bank and credit-card debt, in addition to about $22.8 million worth of trade debt. Click here to view the original story.
8) Reynolds Unveils National Rollout of Vuse
In July, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. expanded the limited distribution of its Vuse digital vapor cigarette to a national rollout, starting in Colorado. Daan Delen, president and CEO of parent company Reynolds American Inc., pointed to a "time of change" during a New York launch event for Vuse. Click here to view the original story.
9) Visa, MasterCard Modify Rules to Allow Surcharging by Merchants
In response to the then-proposed, now-approved multibillion-dollar class-action settlement over credit card swipe fees, Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. revealed rule changes that would allow merchants to begin charging consumers a surcharge. A number of requirements apply, including the ability of point-of-sale software to support such a surcharge due to the prohibition against manual surcharge keys. Click here to view the original story.
10) Hershey's Building Future on Core Brands & Innovation
Top executives at The Hershey Co. described five core strategies to help the company to grow in emerging markets and increase sales to $10 billion in 2017 during a September meeting with trade press editors. Michele Buck, president, North America, also discussed Hershey's plan to focus on confectionery categories that are convenience-oriented and fall along the "snacking continuum -- from better-for-you to indulgence." Click here to view the original story.