Single Store Owner

AUG-SEP 2016

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the h ub 18 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 he explained. Similarly, he now sees opportunities for regional distributors (family-owned and such) to step in and cater to independent c-store operators. "There is still room for best regional brokers by market," Stuart said. Single-store owners in the convenience channel will still be able to find the attention to detail they need regionally — it will just be a little harder to find. "Particularly with the service they had before and at the prices they had before," he noted. "But certainly not impossible." Looking farther out, the big distributors will continue to get bigger, according to Stuart, and growth will continue to come from mid-size opera- tors looking to merge. However, center cities and rural cities still have "room for single-store operators who are gritty and willing to make it work. And they are best supported and most profitable with regional distributors," he said. In fact, such a partnership on both ends demon- strates that survival of the fittest doesn't necessarily have to mean the fattest footprint. SSO of supply these days — maybe not one, but fewer, as we've seen broadly in the grocery channel." So, while the grocery channel accelerated its consolidation in the '90s, the convenience channel was about a decade behind — and now the convenience distribution channel is right behind that. What does this mean for single- store store operators in the convenience operators in the convenience channel; channel; those independent operators those independent operators that that are small footprints lacking any are small footprints lacking any economies of scale? For one thing, "it is probably going to be harder to get good prices and and good service from the larger-foot- good service from the larger-foot- print distributors," Stuart acknowledges. Though, there is a silver lining and it lies in look- ing for like-minded regional opportunities in distri- bution, he believes. "In the food brokerage industry, where there was consolidation to three big brokers, there was kind of a reflex action that revealed op- portunities for smaller, regional brokerage firms,"

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