​​Refuel Embarks on Latest Acquisition Streak

The retailer adds nine locations from two separate deals.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Refuel Operating Co. LLC is expanding its footprint in North Carolina. 

The convenience store operator acquired the assets of Greensboro, N.C.-based Premier Stores Inc., which operates a chain of c-stores under the Great Stops brand. The transaction includes six stores in the Greensboro market. 

"We are extremely excited to enter a new, adjacent market with the Great Stops acquisition and expand our current footprint in the attractive Raleigh-Durham market with Whalen's," said Mark Jordan, CEO of Refuel. "Both acquisitions represent high-quality stores that are a strong fit with the Refuel portfolio. We are excited to welcome both teams to the Refuel family."

Most of the Great Stops stores feature Little Caesar's or Subway restaurants, as well as 24-hour laundromats.

Additionally, Refuel entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of The Whalen Corp., a Raleigh, N.C.-based chain with three stores in the Raleigh-Durham market.

The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Southeastern Acquisition Advisors, based in Sanford, N.C., provided sell-side merger-and-acquisition services to Whalen for the transaction.

"The Whalen family is filled with gratitude as we complete this process with Refuel. We owe that gratitude to our many dedicated employees, who have kept the business running each day, to our loyal customers, without whom Whalen's would not exist, and to our family-members-turned-coworkers, who have been there for every step, big and small," the Whalen family said in a joint statement. "We are confident that Refuel will offer great opportunities for our team of employees and continue to provide the excellent experience that Whalen's customers have come to know."

The transactions represent the 12th and 13th acquisition for Charleston-based Refuel since establishing its partnership with First Reserve in May 2019, bringing the retailer's total store count to 195 company-operated locations across Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Expanding Across Southern Regions 

In early June, Refuel expanded its footprint in the Lone Star state with the acquisition of certain assets of Austin, Texas-based Embark Energy LLC.

The transaction included 11 company-owned and -operated c-stores in the greater Austin market operating under the Fast Break brand, in addition to four company-owned, dealer-operated locations.

"The Ali family has built a wonderful company in an incredible market over the past 26 years. We are extremely excited to expand our current footprint in the high-growth central Texas market and look forward to welcoming Embark's employees to the Refuel family," said Refuel's CEO at the time.

Refuel entered the Texas market with the purchase of Round Rock-based Wag-A-Bag LLC in May 2021. The deal included 16 c-stores located in the greater Austin market. Then, in September 2021, it entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of San Antonio, Texas-based Action Fuels LP. The deal included nine Buck's Food and Fuel c-stores situated in the greater San Antonio and south Texas market. 

Earlier this year, Refuel received a $511 million capital infusion through the First Reserve Refuel Fund. The fund provides additional "dry powder" for Refuel to continue pursuing its acquisition-driven growth strategy, according to the company.