Thursday, September 25, 2008

The biggest chain you've never heard of is expanding

OK, maybe you have heard of them if they're one of your customers, or if you live in a small midwestern town, but most folks don't know about Casey's General Stores.

Casey's is headquartered in Ankeny, Iowa, and runs 1450 convenience stores in nine states, mostly in towns of 5000 or less population.

They're planning to grow that store count, as well as increase and upgrade store size. The upgrades are the sort of things many c-stores have been adding -- expanded coffee selection, prepared foods, nicer decor, and est-in facilities in some locations.
In terms of a timeframe, the company intends to open 20 to 25 new stores in this fiscal year, which for Casey's ends April 30. In addition to that projection, the chain will replace another 20 stores with the new design and take 10 additional stores and put those locations through the remodel process. In the end, the chain will have 50 to 55 stores operating with the new look by next spring.

Though refraining from specifics about the markets where these new sites will go, Walljasper said the model fits both in rural sites and its larger markets, but may not be right for smaller towns of, say, 500-600 residents.

The larger goal is to grow the company's store base by 4% each fiscal year, despite today's economic challenges. "We're not necessarily pulling back new-store construction or our search for acquisitions due to the challenges in the economy," said Walljasper. "In the Midwest, we have benefited from a robust economy because agricultural areas have done relatively well."

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