Gas Stations Without Gas Profits

Discussion
Jul 19, 2002
George Anderson

Thornton Oil Corp. is taking the “Zero by Zero-Seven” strategy as it looks at the future of its 160-unit, $900 million company. The approach refers to the creation of stores that are compelling for what is sold inside, and zero reliance on gasoline margins for 2007, according to a report on NACS’ cstorecentral.com web site.

Thornton Oil aims to turn its convenience stores into retailing experiences that can survive in the long term. The strategy is a counter-plan should Wal-Mart or other competitors corner the gasoline business or make it unprofitable for convenience stores, or should a gas war or oil shortage change the nature of the business.

“That’s our goal, to sell more high-margin items at a volume and with a quality product,” Matt Thornton, president and CEO of Thorntons, told Kentucky’s Louisville Courier-Journal. “It’s a way of stating to ourselves how to become more competitive.” The new focus on inside store sales may be seen in the fresh foods, produce, and more inviting interiors that are designed to appeal more to women shoppers, says Mr. Thornton.

Moderator Comment: Do you think that Thornton Oil can/will achieve the strategic goals of its “Zero by Zero-Seven” plan?

Convenience stores have been faced with trying to replace
lost tobacco profit dollars for years and now we can add gasoline to the list.
Seems as though everyone from Wal-Mart to Albertson’s to the Oneida Nation is
looking to grab market share from convenience stores.

Operators such as Thornton Oil, Casey’s, BP/Amoco and
others are actively addressing the competition and doing so successfully. What
is their secret? They understand that only consumers can define what convenience
means to them. Thornton Oil listens to its consumers. It delivers convenience
as requested. [George Anderson – Moderator]

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