saluting the industrys top suppliers

Convenience Store Decisions’ Reader’s Choice Awards honor the top performers in more than 20 in-store categories.

“Honesty,” “integrity” and “committed to the industry.” These were just a fewof the glowing accolades industry-retailers had for their supplier partnersin Convenience Store Decisions‘ first annual Reader’s Choice Awards.

“We consider our relationships with retail and wholesale partners to be one of our most valuable assets,” said Jane Green, vice president of marketing for Swisher International Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla. “The Swisher sales team strives to provide the best service and category management possible so that we can all grow our businesses.”

In order to find the industry’s Top Performers, CSD summoned Hagen Marketing Research Inc. to act as an independent third-party firm to determine which product manufacturers regularly call on convenience store operators and to learn more about how chains feel about the merchandising and promotional programs these manufacturers are making available to them.

Hagen’s results, available in CSD‘s 2005 Sales Tracking Study, serveas the backbone of the Reader’s Choice Awards. In order to keep the contentfresh and up-to-date, CSD is continues to work with Hagen to refine the2006 study to account for all of the mergers and acquisitions in the suppliercommunity. CSD has also received a verbal commitment from numerous suppliersthat they will encourage retailers to participate in the study in order to makethis the most accurate supplier report available in the industry.

While garnering supplier support is important, it’s the response from retailers of which CSD is most proud. Strong retailer participation is the core value of this report and serves as an indication of just how well earned these supplier awards are.

Information for the study was obtained in interviews with buyers and merchandisers from 95 convenience and petroleum chains ranging in size from five stores to more than 5,000. Combined, the chains accounted for more than $68 billion in sales in 2005.

Unlike other industry surveys, which ask retailers to rate companies on a scale of 1 to 10, CSD asked chains to name names in order to derive real value for retailers and help force change in areas marketers feel they are underserved. Operators were asked candid questions about their most effective in-store strategies and the suppliers’ role in supporting them, which suppliers were making store visits and how often, and which suppliers offered the best retail solutions to fit their needs.

Aside from listing the top suppliers in dozens of categories and subcategories,here’s what the study found:

  • Convenience stores remain, and will continue to remain for the foreseeablefuture, an important stop for the nation’s consumers for daily consumableitems. The industry represents “a powerful sales opportunity for suppliers’products and services.”
  • Retailers need to do a better job of marketing inside the store and notwalk away from the “convenience” aspect of the business.

Now that supermarkets and hypermarts are increasing fuel operations, it ismore important than ever for c-stores to retain their speed of service nicheby becoming better in-store marketers, the study said. And they are going toneed support from the many suppliers honored in this report to achieve theirNo. 1 objective of driving new business.

Focus on operations
While this study honors the top suppliers,information gleaned from the retailer community indicated that store operators”are not receiving information on new products and promotions on a timely basis,”the study found. “So while suppliers have improved, there is still work to bedone in the supplier community.”

Supporting retailers’ day-to-day needs is very much a mutually beneficial process.Chains equipped to sell more items generate higher profits for themselves andtheir supplier partners. Yet the study revealed that in most product categories,”the convenience store industry was still undecided when it comes to which suppliersoffer the best programs and services. Great opportunities exist for all.”

In the few cases where manufacturersand distributors achieved “preferred supplier”level, the suppliers were found to have demonstrated a higher level of corporatesales calls and store visits. “These suppliers have demonstrated a clear understandingof convenience store customers’ special needs through their services, merchandising,package size, promotional support, distribution and proven sales demand,” thestudy said.

The bottom line is retailers are looking for partners that answer their needsand have innovative and profitable new ideas in this very competitive industry.

To get their products and service more prominently displayed in conveniencestores, suppliers should be reaching out to key decision-makers at both theretail level and company headquarters. Category managers have enormous influencewith company presidents, marketing directors and small chain owners when itcomes to stocking the shelves, but they are often overlooked in the promotionalprocess.

Consider that just 42 companies operate 52,600 stores and another 122 companiesoperate 10,194 stores, and you quickly realize that enormous buying decisionsare carried out by relatively few people. Overlooking any of them could leadto a significant amount of lost business.

Retail Participants

Cubby’s Inc.

Omaha

NE

Four Seasons Triangle Inc.

Hendersonville

NC

Cumberland Farms Inc.

Canton

MA

Go-Fer-Foods Inc.

Grand Junction

CO

Danny & Clydes Food Store

Gretna

LA

Go-Mart Inc.

Gassaway

WV

7-eleven Inc.

Dallas

TX

Deli-Wagon Food Service

North Royalton

OH

HKH Quick Stops

Jacksonville

FL

Appco Convenience Stores

Blountville

TN

Dixie Oil Co. of AL Inc.

Meridian

MS

Herndon Oil Corp.

Dothan

AL

BP

Naperville

IL

Dodge Stores & Saving Station

Tupelo

MS

Holt Oil Company

Fayetteville

NC

Bountryland Quick Stops

Westminster

SC

Double Quick Inc.

Indianola

MS

Homboldt Petroleum Inc.

Eureka

CA

Brookshire Grocery Co.

Tyler

TX

E. J. Pope & Son Handy Mart

Mount Olive

NC

Houchens
Industries Inc.

Bowling Green

KY

Buffalo Services Inc.

Crosby

MS

Englefield Oil Company

Newark

OH

Hudson Food Stores Inc.

Chiefland

FL

Buzz Buy Convenience Stores

Magnolia

AR

Enmark Stations Inc.

Savannah

GA

Inter City Oil Co. Inc.

Duluth

MN

Calfee Co. of Dalton Inc.

Dalton

GA

Fast Petroleum Company Inc.

Dalton

GA

Island Food Stores

Jacksonville

FL

Circle K

Charlotte

NC

Fast Track Inc.

Wilkesboro

NC

Jay Petroleum Inc.

Portland

IN

Conoco Phillips

Houston

TX

Fastop Inc.

Jasper

IN

Jumpin Jacks

Owensboro

KY

Cougar Oil Inc.

Selma

AL

Fastrac

Rome

NY

K & E Convenience Store

Chandler

TX

Crown Central Petroleum

Baltimore

MD

Fishos Oil Co.

McKenzie

TN

Krist Oil Co.

Iron River

MI

 

Industry at a glance:
Total c-store units:138,205
In-store sales:$132.1 billion
Gasoline sales:$262.6 billion
Total annual sales:$394.7 billion
Stores selling gasoline:110,840
Percentage of stores with pay-at-the-pump:95.2%
In-store sales per location:$919,203
*Source: 2004 National Association of Convenience Stores 2004Industry Report

 

What are the C-Store Customers Buying

 

Kum & GoWest Des MoinesIAQuick Check Food StoresWhitehouseNJSuper Quick Inc.FlatwoodsKY
Kwik Trip Inc.La CrosseIWQuick Stop Market Inc.FremontCAThe Spencer Companies Inc.HuntsvilleAL
Loma Catalina CompanyTucsonAZR & C PetroleumNorth PlatteNETooley Oil CompanySacramentoCA
Major Brand GasolineAustinTXRacetrac Petroleum Inc.SmyrnaGATops Markets LLCBuffaloNY
Miller Oil CompanyNorfolkVARanger Enterprises Inc.Stillman ValleyILTown & Country Food Stores Inc.San AngeloTX
Minit Stop MauiKahuluiHIRiiser Oil Co.WausauWITown Pumps Inc.ButteMT
NexcomVirginia BeachVASSP Circle KCorpus ChristiTXTransglobal Gas & Oil Co.KnoxvilleTN
Nice-n-Easy Grocery ShoppesCanastotaNYSave More Inc.PelzerSCTraxx CompaniesLexingonKY
North Federal Heights TexacoAuroraCOScaff’s Inc.Lake CityFLUnited Refining Co.WarrenPA
Parker Oil Co.South HillVAShaws Gulf Inc.StillwaterOKValero Energy Corp – DallasDallasTX
Petro Stopping CentersEL PasoTXSheetz Inc.AltoonaPAWallis Oil Co. Inc.CubaMO
Piedmont Petroleum Corp.GreenvilleSCShell Oil Products USHoustonTXWalters-Dimmick PetroleumMarshallMI
Primar Petroleum Inc.St. JosephMISkinnys Inc.AbileneTXWawa Inc.WawaPA
Pugh Oil Co. Inc.AsheboroNCSodexhoTroyNYWinnsboro PetroleumWinnsboroSC
Pump N. Pantr Convenience StoresMontrosePASouthwest Convenience StoresOdessaTXXtra Mart (Kenyon Oil Co.)North GrosvenordCT

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