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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Analysis: How CST Brands Won Nice N Easy
Inside the Texas company’s pitch to acquire a beloved New York chain

Source: CSP Daily News
By Mitch Morrison, Vice President & Group Editor

SAN ANTONIO & CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- It started with a simple conversation on a summer day in June.

NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC was handling the divestment of more than 100 convenience stores not considered core to CST Brands Inc.’s rapacious growth strategy.

For months prior, NRC had been handling another project 1,800 miles away. The company was retained in Aug. 2013 as financial advisor by John MacDougall, founder and president of one of the convenience channel’s most iconic chains: Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes. Founded in 1980, the company operates 33 stores, including some of the most profitable in the convenience channel, and a dealer network of 44 franchise units.

In late 2013, MacDougall gave NRC the green light to quietly reach out to potential buyers.

But this would be no ordinary sale.

“It was very important to John that this would not just be about the highest bidder,” shared a source close to Nice N Easy.

“There were three things very important to John,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity, “that the Nice N Easy name be preserved, that the employees’ jobs be safe and that whoever would be the buyer would agree to be active with the Syracuse community that John loved so much.”

CST Jumps In

While Nice N Easy was dealing with MacDougall’s failing health and eventual passing in June 2014, CST was quietly putting into place a dramatic growth strategy.

Click here to read an exclusive interview with CST CEO and chairperson Kim Bowers.

Told in June about Nice N Easy’s desire to sell, CST sprung to action.

A team quickly came together that included CST CEO and chairperson Kim Bowers, senior vice present and CMO Hal Adams, chief development officer Steve Motz, COO Tony Bartys, vice president of strategy Stephane Trudel.

A fundamental question was whether the San Antonio concern would be vested in not only acquiring but integrating a chain based in upstate New York.

The answer was an emphatic yes.

But competition to make the purchase would be fierce. Sources not directly involved in the transaction say several major regional chains expressed interest in Nice N Easy and valued the company as a top-quartile and possibly a top-decile operation. While CST Brands declined to say how much it has agreed to pay, those sources suggested the final price could top 10x EB