EL DORADO, Ark. — More than a year since taking ownership of QuickChek, the tie-up and integration of the two convenience store retailers still excites Murphy USA Inc.
"One of the things that we loved about QuickChek was the people and the culture, and everything that we thought we were joining up with has been the case," Murphy USA CEO Andrew Clyde said during the company's first-quarter 2022 earnings call, held earlier this month.
Murphy USA acquired Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek in January 2021. The $645-million transaction added nearly 160 c-stores to Murphy USA's network.
"It hasn't been without challenges and questions, and we spend a lot of time on that," Clyde said during the earnings call. "One of the beauties of being a public company is you have an equity program at certain levels, and I think people all of a sudden realize when you have a business and it performs and you're part of a bigger company, that there's excitement and motivation around that as well."
With the integration progressing, QuickChek's foodservice business is "picking up nicely," according to Clyde, and the morning daypart is ticking up from both a beverage standpoint and a breakfast sandwich standpoint.
"We've done some pretty in-depth consumer work to understand where the brand strength is, what are some of the pillars that we're going to really amplify in our food and beverage strategy but, at the same time, not surprisingly, [we] identified some low-hanging fruit, some quick wins, and some more medium-term initiatives where we can create value there," Clyde explained.
"I think the thing we like as a leadership team is an opportunity set, where we can make a good business better, and we think we have the opportunity to do that," he continued. "And again, that relies on a strong team to be able to do that."
Although QuickChek operates outside of Murphy USA's traditional market area, the company's convenience proposition is not restricted by boundaries.
"I don't know about all of our QuickChek customers. But I know a good cup of coffee in the morning for me is not discretionary and we're the go-to for that. The same for the best-rated Italian sub in New Jersey from a value standpoint," Clyde noted. "One of the things, as we really got to know the business, is the customer is more like our customer than not. They just happen to buy more food and beverages at their stores. Our customers eat too, as we like to say, they just don't buy as much of it from us."
Moving forward, the retailer sees opportunities around food and beverage optimization. Additionally, pointing to the strength of the Murphy Drive Rewards loyalty program and the company's team behind it, Clyde believes there is opportunities at QuickChek around digital loyalty and utilizing consumer insights.
There are also opportunities around cost management — optimizing labor and supply chain, according to the chief executive,
"We think there's a great opportunity to continue to make that business stronger, as well as the opportunity to take those advantages into new stores as we continue to grow that brand," he said.
El Dorado-based Murphy USA's network consists of 1,151 Murphy USA stores, 376 Murphy Express stores, and 159 QuickChek stores.