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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Pantry Raises Its 'Investment Hurdle'

Source: CSP Daily News
By Steve Holtz

Expects store portfolio to shrink

CARY, N.C. -- Two or three years ago, The Pantry was generally considered the premier aggregator in the convenience-store industry. More recently, it's been focused on making the numerous chains and individual c-stores it's purchased over the years fit its strategy and, more importantly, make money.

The evolution of the chain continued this week as interim CEO Edwin Holman announced that its store disposition program will likely be active in 2012.

"We have taken a much more strategic approach in evaluating our total store network and our opportunities to increase market share and profitability by market an in total," Holman said during an earnings call with analysts Tuesday. "We're evaluating our total store network to specifically identify core stores vs. non-core stores."

An early version of the program led the chain to put 114 stores up for sale through NRC Realty, Chicago. With that sale nearly complete, Pantry executives are considering whether another collection of stores should be put on the auction block.

"We are conducting an in-depth review of each store and each market's financial contribution and strategic importance to the total company. We will concentrate our investments in our more productive core stores and markets," Holman said.

"While we will continue to invest in our in our store base, we are raising our investment hurdle. Accordingly, our store portfolio will shrink over time, with respect to those stores with little or no profit before overhead."

Holman did not provide a timeline for future store sales, but said the store disposition program will be part of The Pantry's ongoing strategy.

Headquartered in Cary, N.C., The Pantry is the leading independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern United States and one of the largest independently operated c-store chains in the country. As of December 9, 2011, the company operated 1,627 stores in 13 states under select banners, including Kangaroo Express, its primary operating banner.

To see a list of convenience stores for sale and gas stations for sale, click here.