Rutter’s Farm Stores Named CSD’s Chain of the Year

Exceptional leadership, great stores and unsurpassed customer service are the hallmarks of the convenience store industry’s extraordinary chains. Following these guiding principles, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to announce Rutter’s Farm Stores as the 2010 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

At a time when many industry marketers are struggling with exorbitant credit card fees and extraordinary competition, Rutter’s has not only persevered, but pushed forward with an exquisite new convenience store design and invested more than $55 million since 2008 to upgrade the face of its entire 55-store network.

Rutter’s, which supplants Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes as Chain of the Year, is the 21st winner of this prestigious award, considered the gold standard in convenience retailing. Like Nice N Easy, Rutter’s is the second consecutive chain under 100 stores to receive the award, emphasizing that it’s not the size of the chain that matters, rather the quality of its offering.

“On behalf of the entire Rutter’s team, I can say we are both grateful and humbled to receive this recognition,” said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of Rutter’s Farm Stores. “Having grown up in the convenience store industry, I have long marveled at the successes of so many chains that are past winners. Being mentioned with such stalwarts of the industry is such an honor.”

Geographically, the chain has never strayed far from its York, Pa., roots. Yet, its evolution from small town player to industry leader has impacted the way the industry does business, especially in the areas of foodservice and technology. Rutter’s focus has never been on reckless expansion simply for the sake of having a larger store count. Rather, it has remained focused on serving local customers within its means and doing it with enormous success.

For example, Rutter’s special talent has been its ability to constantly reinvent itself, from its humble beginnings as a local Pennsylvania dairy to adding fuel operations and foodservice. Along the way, it became an integral part of the local community. Its store investment plan added 350 new jobs and more than $4.5 million in annual wages and benefits to the area economy.

“Retailers are under enormous pressure as they battle depressed margins, unprecedented competition and high credit card processing fees both in store and at the pump,” said Tom McIntyre, group publisher of The Convenience Store Decisions Group. “The purpose of the Chain of the Year Award is to showcase the best of the best in convenience retailing and Rutter’s certainly meets that definition.”

Under the leadership of Hartman and venerable industry veterans like Jeff Leedy, senior vice president of marketing for Rutter’s and Jerry Weiner, Rutter’s vice president of foodservice, the company rolled out a c-store prototype that boasts a modern design, open ceilings, extensive use of floor and wall tiles, bathrooms with floating ceilings, music and other upscale accents. The design is environmentally friendly, including a white roof to keep the building cooler while reducing energy demand. The new design also features Rutter’s latest foodservice offerings, including custom stir fry, fajitas and fresh-baked breads.

On the technology side, Rutter’s continues to push the envelope with its cutting-edge loyalty program and new mobile applications for the iPhone and the BlackBerry that allow customers to use and scan coupons directly from their mobile devices.

“For many years the entire team at Rutter’s has been recognized as one of the hardest working groups in the industry. Their dedication to detail, outstanding customer service programs and constant evolution as a convenience retailer make them the perfect choice to join the elite list of Chain of the Year honorees,” said John Lofstock, editor-in-chief and group director of editorial operations for CSD. “From a personal standpoint, it’s a wonderful honor to be giving something back to a chain that has been so helpful to the industry and CSD for so many years.”

While the store spares little when it comes to its dynamic design, Hartman has emerged as an industry leader instrumental in pushing technology standards that allow convenience retailers to compete more effectively with supermarkets and mass merchandisers. He has served as chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in 2006, chairman of the Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards (PCATS) in 2005, as well as membership on the boards of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants and the Pennsylvania Responsible Tobacco Retail Sales Certification Program.

Rutter’s will be honored at an exclusive dinner on Oct. 6 in Atlanta during the NACS Show. Tickets and seating is limited. For information, contact John Lofstock at (201) 837-2177 or jlofstock@csdecisions.com.

About the Chain of the Year Award

Rutter’s Farm Stores is Convenience Store Decisions’ 21st Chain of the Year winner following 2009 honoree Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes. Wawa Inc. was CSD’s inaugural Chain of the Year winner in 1990. Since then, CSD annually has recognized a convenience store chain that has stood apart from its peers in terms of customer service, commitment to employees and overall operational excellence.

Past winners include:

1990 – Wawa Inc.

1991 – SuperAmerica

1992 – QuikTrip Corp.

1993 – Casey’s General Stores Inc.

1994 – Sheetz Inc.

1995 – Diamond Shamrock Corp.

1996 – Mapco Express

1997 – Speedway Inc.

1998 – Krause Gentle Corp.

1999 – Dairy Mart Inc.

2000 – Amerada Hess Corp.

2001 – Huck’s Food & Fuel

2002 – Petro-Canada

2003 – Exxon Mobil Corp.

2004 – Kwik Trip Inc.

2005 – 7-Eleven Inc.

2006 – Valero Energy Corp.

2007 – Alimentation Couche-Tard

2008 – Chevron Global Marketing

2009 – Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes Inc.

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