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Thursday, August 21, 2014

CST Will Carry On Nice N Easy Brand

Source: Convenience Store News
By Melissa Kress

SAN ANTONIO -- CST Brands Inc. is acquiring Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, but customers should not expect to see the familiar upstate New York banner change over to CST’s Corner Store brand.

In an interview Thursday with CSNews Online, Kim Bowers, chairman and CEO of San Antonio-based CST Brands, said the 77 Nice N Easy locations in New York State -- 33 company operated, 44 franchise locations -- will carry on the 34-year-old name.

“There is a clear, strong community connection and customer loyalty associated with Nice N Easy,” she said. “Clearly, [John [MacDougall’s] legacy was a network of stores where folks come back time and time again. We want to preserve that as much as possible.”

MacDougall was the founder and president of Canastota, N.Y.-based Nice N Easy. He passed away June 21. Earlier this year, MacDougall began looking to take his retail network to a larger platform and started a quiet sale process with Chicago-based NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC.

Around the same time, CST Brands tapped NRC Realty to help with its divestiture of 117 Corner Store locations that were identified as smaller in square footage and below the company’s overall store average from an inside sales perspective.

The NRC connection brought the two retailers together two months ago.

“We were able to connect through NRC and started the conversation in June,” Bowers explained. “Throughout the year, they were doing a quiet sale process. We weren’t in that mix, partly because I think CST Brands is still viewed as a southwest U.S network tied to Valero [Energy Corp.]. It wasn’t until June that our guys were talking and said this is exactly the kind of network we are interested in. The conversation took off pretty quickly.

“We have a very similar employee culture, customer service, store approach. It’s a natural fit for us,” she added.

Not only does CST Brands plan to keep the Nice N Easy moniker alive, but it also intends to add to the chain’s existing store count. According to Bowers, CST Brands’ real estate team will begin looking for additional sites in New York next month.

“They have a strong store presence, terrific inside sales, long-term employees. To be able to grow on that brand recognition in that area of the country is going to be a benefit for CST,” she said.

Two Deals in Two Weeks

The deal with Nice N Easy, which is expected to close early in the fourth quarter, comes on the heels of CST Brands’ announced acquisition of 100 percent