The Pantry with 1575+ stores is one of the largest independently operated convenience store chain in the southeastern U. S. Operating in 13 states under a number of banners including Kangaroo Express faced with migrating customers, a changed in consumer consumption patterns, and increased competition is not sitting idly by they are entering the Grocerant Niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.
Headquarter in North Carolina, The Pantry decade after decade, grew consistently selling fuel and cigarettes. However customers have changed and so have the times. Today, with the” advent of fuel-efficient vehicles and a decline in the number of smokers, the Cary-based convenience store chain is looking for new ways to drive customer traffic.” According to The Pantry CEO Dennis Hatchell.
In order to compensate declining sales in those legacy categories, the Pantry is focusing more strongly on food service specifically Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food. Hatchell stated that “quick-service restaurants within his system currently account for 11 percent of merchandising sales, while the national average for convenience stores is 17 percent. That leaves The Pantry with some catching up to do.”
“Our goal is to close this gap over the next several years, and by doing so, will help to offset the declines we are seeing in cigarettes,” Hatchell says. “We believe our branded QSRs help differentiate our store from other competitors.” Hatchell noted that stores with restaurants are among the best-performing.
Convenience store industry food retail leaders Rutter’s Farm Stores, Sheetz, and Wawa have gained industry and cross-channel acclaim and awards for fresh prepared branded food sales. In fact Wawa now call itself a “Fast Casual To-Go restaurant that sells gas” while Sheetz Made-to-Order MOD fresh food items continues to drive successful top line sales growth and bottom line profits.
With 1575+ stores The Pantry is on the right track. Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food aka grocerant niche offerings with help it grow same store sales as it fresh food sales grow from 11% today too 17% system wide.