Sun Capital Partners Increases Presence In Southeast With Two Major Buys

Gavin P. Smith – The Griffin Report

Sun Capital Partners, a private investment firm picked up two major purchases in May which increases their presence in North and South Carolina.

Worsley Companies, a prominent Wilmington, N.C.-based convenience store operator, has been acquired by an affiliate of  Sun Capital Partners, Inc. The deal, which happened for an undisclosed amount in April, adds Worsley to Sun Capital’s impressive roster of companies that include Boston Market, Hickory Farms, and Chrysler.

Just recently in late May, Li’l Cricket Food Stores, an operator of 88 convenience stores in South Carolina  was sold to Worsley & Sun Capital.  Li’l Cricket sells premium fuel under several major petroleum brands including Valero and Marathon.

Sun Capital Partners Inc., a private investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts, equity and other investments,  is a sister affiliate to Village Pantries Holding Corp., an operator of 190 c-stores throughout Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. In all, affiliates of Sun Capital own approximately 400 convenience stores in five Midwestern and southeastern states, selling 277 million gallons of fuel annually.

A lagging economy and slow business drove Worsley Co. to begin shopping for buyers about a year ago. Under the acquisition deal, Worsley Co. sold 124 convenience stores in North and South Carolina under the Scotchman, Youngs’, and S-E names and sells premium fuel under several major petroleum brands including BP, Exxon, Shell, Mobil, and Sunoco as well as its proprietary brands Carolina Petro and Anytime Energy.

The acquisition of such a large investment in North Carolina gives Sun Capital a presence in the Southeast that it previously did not have, especially with the joint acquisition of another Carolinas convenience store chain, Li’l Cricket.

“We are pleased to add Worsley and Li’l Cricket to our growing portfolio of convenience store affiliates,” said David Blechman, principal of Sun Capital. “These acquisitions more than double the number of stores owned and operated by our affiliates and will extend our footprint into two states where we did not have prior representation.”

Upon being acquired by Sun Capital, Worsley Companies immediately announced the appointment of Jeffrey Turpin as its president and chief financial officer. Mr.  Turpin was formerly the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Worsley and has been with the company for 13 years. Mr. Turpin is confident about the new partnership.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Worsley, our customers, and associates to join forces with Sun Capital, a sponsor with deep operating and financial resources,” said Mr. Turpin. “Sun Capital shares our operating philosophy and commitment to service, giving us the ability, not available in our previous structure, to enhance the value  proposition for our loyal customers.”

Worsley Companies was founded in Wallace, N.C. in 1923 by W.C. Worsley, Sr.  It has since expanded to operate over 140 convenience stores in North and South Carolina, as well as two truck stops.  Worsley Companies continues to upgrade many of the stores with the addition of branded fast foods such as Subway, Quiznos and Blimpie.  In addition, Worsley has its own brand of foods including full breakfast and lunch stores.  Along with convenience stores, truck stops, and food services, Worsley Companies also offers fleet fueling services.  “Worsley and Li’l Cricket will be operated now as one team,” said Mr. Turpin. “Our goal is to gain as much synergy as possible to best serve the customer.  We think the best way to serve the customer is by combining the great resources from both groups.  We plan to conduct market research to make sure we deliver whatever best serves the customer.”

Sun Capital Partners Inc. is a leading private investment firm that focuses on leveraged buyouts, equity and other investments in market-leading companies.  Their portfolio includes some 185 companies worldwide with combined sales in excess of $35billion since its inception in 1995.  Sun Capital Partners has offices in Boca Raton, Los Angeles, and New York, as well as affiliates with offices in London, Tokyo, and Shenzhen.

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