Survey: These two retailers satisfy gas customers
Louisville, Colo. – When it comes to filling their tanks, consumers are most satisfied by two retailers.
Wawa and Costco are the most satisfying gas station/convenience store and wholesale/grocery/big box retailers for fuel, respectively, according to a new survey of 6,935 U.S. consumers by Market Force Information.
Wawa ranked highest among c-store/gas stations with 68%, edging out QuikTrip, which was second with a score of 62% and Sheetz was third with 59%. All of the top three are corporate-owned, regional brands. Speedway and Phillips 66 tied for fourth, with Phillips 66 emerging as the highest-ranking national brand.
When Market Force ranked the top wholesale clubs, grocers and big-box chains, three wholesale clubs led the pack – Costco ranked first, BJ’s Wholesale Club was second and Sam’s Club was third. Kroger and Walmart rounded out the top five.
While the majority of motorists still fuel up at traditional gas stations and convenience stores, grocers and wholesale clubs continue to gain ground. For their most recent trip to the pump, 69% said they visited a gas station or convenience store, while 31% chose a grocery, wholesale club or big-box chain.
For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent gas station or convenience store experience, and their likelihood to refer that store brand to others.
Market Force also evaluated how gas station and convenience store brands are delivering on a spectrum of attributes that impact customer satisfaction, such as service and appearance. Chevron ranked highest for fuel quality and Arco was voted the fuel price-leader. Wawa, took the top spot in the fresh food category. QuikTrip came in first for customer service and appearance for a second consecutive year. Sheetz’s loyalty program was a clear favorite, and it also tied with Wawa for quality coffee.
When Market Force examined how grocery stores, wholesale clubs and big-box retailers were delivering these attributes, Costco took the top spot in five of the nine categories, including fuel quality, fuel price, customer service, appearance and brand reputation. BJ’s also performed well, leading on ease of entry and exit and good coffee, and tying with Costco for fresh food. Kroger ranked first for its loyalty program by a large margin.
Ten percent of study participants said they have used a gas app. Generation X reported the highest usage rates, although there was little differentiation across age groups. When asked which features they have used within a gas app, gas price comparison came out on top at 78%, followed by finding a gas station and reporting gas prices.
GasBuddy, which uses crowdsourcing to check for the cheapest gas prices in an area, is the most popular app, with 69% of gas app users indicating they have used it.
Footwear brand in deal with Target; updating stores
New York — One of the nation’s most venerable children’s footwear brands has entered into a deal with Target. The brand is also updating its own in-store experience as it looks to align itself more directly with contemporary shoppers.
Stride Rite is launching Surprize by Stride Rite, an exclusive line of tyke-sized tennis shoes in Target, designed in partnership with Stride Rite.
The Target move is part of Stride Rite’s new “Built for Childhood” brand platform that, among other things, also includes service improvements designed for today’s parents. The revamp is designed to make Stride Rite’s brand experience more convenient, immersive, social, relevant, and fun, the company said.
“Whether a mom finds us in a Stride Rite store or on striderite.com, engages with us on one of our social media channels, or shops for our brand at one of our great retail partners, she will immediately see and feel the energy and relevance of ‘Built for Childhood’ to her life,” said Ira Hernowitz, Stride Rite president. “It reflects our commitment to delivering everyday solutions for parents in children’s footwear.”
As part of the brand revamp, Stride Rite will introduce new formats and technologies to better meet in-store consumers’ needs, including in-store ordering, self-serve environment concept stores, real-time digital signage, and an enhanced loyalty program.
It also is launching a more “meaningful and engaging” social media presence, including rich editorial content created by brand ambassador Rosie Pope. Rosie’s experience as a fashion designer, parenting guru, and mother of four will provide a unique perspective on what to look for in children’s shoes, the company said.
Stride Rite is also expanding its philanthropic partnership with Soles4Souls, a not-for-profit organization that has distributed more than 22 million pairs of shoes to children in need, including 85,000 pairs donated to date from Stride Rite’s initial work with the organization that began in 2014.
“The investments that we are making in our business are powerfully embedded into our very versatile and parent-centric ‘Built for Childhood’ platform,” Hernowitz said. “‘Built for Childhood’ embodies all of the exciting brand improvements that parents will see and feel throughout 2015 and beyond, reaching mom in better, more compelling and engaging ways.”
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet IPO raises $143 million as chain looks to expand
New York — Ollie’s Bargain Outlet raised $143 million in a wildly successful initial public stock offering that positions the company for steady expansion of its 181 unit store base beyond core markets.
Ollie’s co-founder and CEO Mark Butler told Retailing Today that although the company has identified 950 suitable store locations, proceeds from the IPO will be used to repay debt and the company will maintain a measured pace of expansion.
“We’re not going to do anything differently than we’ve done for the last 11 year,” Butler said regarding the company’s approach to expanding into contiguous states.
The company currently operates in 16 eastern and mid-Atlantic states where last year in generated annual sales of $638 million and net income of $26.9 million. Sales growth this year will be driven by the addition of 25 new stores, which is an increase from the 22 units opened in 2014 and the 23 units opened in 2013.
Long-term, the company has identified suitable locations to expand its store base to 950 locations with the company’s existing distribution centers in York, Pennsylvania, and Commerce, Georgia, capable of service up to 400 of the locations. The Georgia facility opened last April.
Ollie’s describes itself as, “a highly differentiated and fast-growing, extreme value retailer of brand name merchandise at drastically reduced prices,” and refers to its stores as, “semi-lovely warehouses.”
“You never know what we are going to have at Ollie’s,” Butler said regarding the company’s approach to featuring non-replenishable closeout merchandise.
The product assortment found in the typical 34,000-sq.-ft. Ollie’s store includes brand name items in 21 departments sourced by a 12 member merchant team with an emphasis on categories such as housewares, food, books and stationery, bed and bath, floor coverings, toys and hardware.
Ollie’s unique brand of retail, financial performance and growth potential resonated with investors. The company’s shares began trading the morning of July 16 at $22.68, 42% higher than the $16 price the company had set the prior day which was higher than an original forecast range of $13 to $15.
Butler co-founded the company 33 years ago and in 2003 he became president and CEO. In 2010 growth began to accelerate more meaningfully and in September 2012, CCMP Capital Advisors, Butler and members of the management team acquired the company.
Between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2014, Ollie’s grew its store base from 96 stores to 176 stores and sales from $335.7 million to $638.0 million. Along the way, the company also paid its private owners a $58 million special dividend in 2014 and a $48.8 million special dividend this year.