Blog: Dean BestMore consolidation in US retail

Dean Best | 29 April 2014

There has been another sizeable deal announced in the US - this time in the convenience channel.

Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of the gas distributor and retailer Sunoco, has struck a cash-and-shares deal worth US$1.8bn for Susser Holdings, which runs 630 convenience stores under the Stripes and Sac-N-Pac banners.

Sunoco has over 5,000 retail stores primarily on the East Coast and the deal will see it take on a retailer based in Texas but with a presence in surrounding states.

Critically for brand owners looking to sell into the stores, ETP pointed to the "synergy opportunities" expected to be over $70 million a year from fuel, merchandising and improved "buying power".

The boards of both businesses have approved the deal, which ETP said is expected to close in the third quarter.

Convenience is increasingly driving shopping habits in a number of markets, including the US. Time-poor consumers have turned to smaller outlets closer to their homes or place of work; shoppers also believe they can better manage their budgets by buying less, more often at smaller stores.

Major hypermarket and supermarket retailers in countries like the UK and France have expanded heavily into the convenience channel in the last decade or more.  

However, in the US, the convenience channel is different. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the association that represents convenience and fuel retailers in the US, of the 149,000-plus c-stores in the country, 63% are owned and operated by someone with just one outlet. C-stores in the US are - predominantly - linked to fuel stations and sell, in the main, tobacco, snacks and beer.

Nevertheless, the mainstream larger retailers in the US have been monitoring the channel, which continues to grow, as just-food news editor Hannah Abdulla outlined in her analysis of the sector in February.

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