Murphy USA’s $645 Million QuickChek Deal Shows Growing Convenience Store Demand

The purchase of QuickChek, a family-owned regional chain with stores in New Jersey and New York, for $645 million by Southern-based gas-and-convenience-store giant Murphy USA spotlights how demand is rising for this type of commercial property in the pandemic.

The buyer, based in El Dorado, Arkansas, said it reached an agreement to buy QuickChek, which is based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. The Garden State-based company operates 157 stores, including 89 locations with fuel in North and Central Jersey, New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island.

Murphy USA’s deal for QuickChek is part of a trend of ownership consolidation in the U.S. gas-and-convenience store sector this year in the pandemic and its restrictions on indoor restaurant dining. Contrary to other retail categories during the COVID-19 outbreak, convenience stores look like attractive investments to a growing number of investors because restrictions on sit-down dining have prompted some consumers to instead seek grab-and-go food and beverage options.

Last month, Israel-based Arko Holdings said it was acquiring 60 self-operated convenience stores, which also sell gas, in the Midwest for $100 million. And in August, the Japan-based parent of 7-Eleven stores announced it will pay $21 billion for 3,800 Speedway gas stations in the United States and Canada. When that sale closes, 7-Eleven will be expanding its North American presence to more than 14,000 sites.

Murphy USA will use its QuickChek purchase to diversify beyond its current locations, which are now typically in front of Walmart Supercenters.

“QuickChek fulfills the very high aspiration we set when thinking about what an industry-leading position looks like,” Murphy USA President and CEO Andrew Clyde told analysts on a conference call. “In making the acquisition, we not only secure one of the industry’s leading food and beverage C-store operators with its own very attractive growth plans, we greatly accelerate and de-risk the opportunity to transform our existing growth plans for new stores, raze-and-rebuilds and upgrades.”

Publicly traded Murphy USA is a gas station and convenience-merchandise retailer with nearly 1,500 sites located primarily in the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest. Its purchase for QuickChek is an all-cash transaction, which includes expected tax benefits valued at $20 million for a net after-tax purchase price of $625 million. The transaction will be financed with a combination of cash on hand, existing credit facilities and new debt. Murphy USA has obtained committed financing from the Royal Bank of Canada.

QuickChek was founded in 1967 as an extension of Durling Farms, a door-to-door milk and dairy products delivery service that originally opened in 1888. It offers quick-serve restaurant-style food alongside convenience items.

The chain has “per-store per-year merchandise sales of $3.5 million, combined merchandise margins of 38% with [food and beverage] representing over 50% of the mix, and per-store per-year fuel gallons of 3.8 million,” according to a statement from Murphy USA.

“Additionally, QuickChek has a proven history of same-store-sales growth and a rich real estate pipeline to sustain unit growth within its existing footprint,” the statement said.

Clyde said in a statement that in October the company outlined an updated capital allocation strategy and “committed to improving our food and beverage offer at existing and future sites.” 

Now, the QuickChek deal “accelerates those efforts and benefits, and is expected to provide reverse synergies across our network, while enhancing future returns on new stores,” Clyde said. “The transaction is also expected to create direct synergies that leverage our enterprise scale and our distinctive capabilities in fuel, tobacco and loyalty.”

The sale is expected to close in the first quarter.

Murphy USA has nearly 10,000 employees who serve an estimated 1.7 million customers each day through its network of gas stations in 25 states. The majority of Murphy USA’s sites are located near Walmart stores. The company also markets gasoline and other products at stand-alone stores under the Murphy Express brand. 

*Article courtesy of CoStar

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