schnucks readies grander cstore strategy

Grocer plans standalone units in Illinois, acquires Tenn. units.

Schnucks, the St. Louis-based grocery chain is preparing to test the waters for stand-alone convenience stores with gas pumps outside its grocery stores by adding them to its two stores in the Champaign-Urbana and the one under construction at Savoy Plaza, according to Schnucks spokeswoman Lori Willis.

The company has already started tearing up the ground outside the Champaign and Urbana groceries and plans to have the convenience stores open by early fall, Willis said.

The Savoy convenience store will open along with the new grocery, also sometime in the early fall, she said.

The Savoy and Urbana stores will each have 12 fueling stations, and the Champaign store will have 10. The convenience stores will be stocked with basic items for shoppers who don’t want to take the time to shop in the larger groceries, Willis said.

Schnucks first acquired some stores with fueling stations in the South when it acquired Sessel’s stores, but it is only now starting to add gas pumps at its existing stores. Willis said the company is trying the concept in Champaign-Urbana and Savoy first because the Savoy store is under construction and the Champaign and Urbana stores had the available land.

“We believe our customers in the Champaign area will respond well to the convenience of having the fuel centers so close to the grocery stores,” she added.

In other news, Schnucks announced it acquired two Fill `n Stations stores in Memphis.

“The Schnucks Express fuel centers will enable us to enhance our convenience offerings and provide additional value to our customers on both the fuel and grocery sides,” said Schnucks Mid-South Division Manager John O’Donnell. “These stations will help to round out our overall one-stop shopping experience for customers.”

The stores were quickly converted to the company’s Schnucks Express brand.

When Schnucks entered the Mid-South market in 2002, the company acquired 12 Seessel’s stores and five convenience and fuels centers from Albertson’s Inc. In 2004, Schnucks built two new stores and a replacement store in the market.

All told, Schnucks operates 101 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi.

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