Casey’s looks to expand in the south, add more 24-hour stores

(Radio Iowa) – The Ankeny-based Casey’s General Stores convenience store chain is pushing to expand into southern states, increase the hours of operation at its already existing stores and grow its pizza delivery business. Bill Walljasper is the company’s chief financial officer. He says during May, June and July, the company opened four new stores, acquired three stores and replaced three more.

“We also had 19 written commitments for acquisitions that we expect to close on in the near future. Additionally we have 31 new stores and 18 replacement stores under construction,” Walljasper says. “In addition to the unit growth, we also converted 56 more locations to a 24-hour format, added 57 more stores to the pizza delivery program and completed one major remodel during the first quarter.”

By the end of April, Casey’s plans to convert another 100 stores to 24-hour operations. In-store pizza sales have been a strong profit center for Casey’s and the company opened a “Casey’s Pizza Express” store in a strip mall in Pleasant Hill on August 1st, just for take-out pizza and pizza delivery.

“We’re encouraged, certainly, by the top line growth in that particular unit,” Walljasper says. “…It offers up a wide variety of opportunity, we believe, in the current market areas where we serve, so stay tuned on that.” Casey’s began to experiment with pizza delivery from its convenience stores in 2011. The company saw pizza and prepared food sales in those stores with delivery service jump 25 to 30 percent.

Casey’s now has convenience stores in 14 states. “We think the new markets that we began to penetrate last fiscal year, that being Tennessee, Kentucky, a litle bit more penetration in Arkansas and North Dakota offer up a wide opportunity for us,” Walljasper says. At the end of July, 1,749 Casey’s General Stores were open for business.