Casey’s says NWA investment paying off

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 242 views 

Roughly two years since Kum & Go lost its bid to build a convenience store near the intersection of Bella Vista Way and Riordan Road, Casey’s General Stores found a way.

The Ankey, Iowa-based convenience store chain already has one location in Bella Vista and is anxious to get Store No. 2 up and operational. Casey's General Stores owns and operates 1,700 convenience stores in 14 Midwestern states.

“We are very pleased with the growth we have seen in Northwest Arkansas over the past year or so. The young stores are firing at higher levels than others in our network. The communities across Northwest Arkansas seem to have embraced our brand,” said Bill Walljasper, chief financial officer for Casey’s corporate.

He said the company usually goes into towns with populations between 5,000 and 10,000, but they broke from that somewhat to put more than a dozen stores in heavier populated areas of Northwest Arkansas.

He said that $35 million gamble is paying off as the company is taking marketshare away from some traditional quickserve food competitors and other convenient stores.

Bella Vista Alderman Jerry Snow says he’s pleased to see the deal done as the stores are clean and offer a wide range of fresh food and more choices for local residents.

Casey’s has built eight stores in the two-county area over the past two years with six more on tap in the coming months. Five of those are already under construction in Siloam Springs, Tontitown, Centerton, Springdale and Rogers No. 2.  

City officials expect construction to get underway for Bella Vista No. 2 in the next couple of months.

Casey Crittenden and his crew from the Bella Vista Property Owners Association have had their hands full digging up and removing roughly 40 mature shrubs and other vegetation from the building site.

“We hated to see these nice shrubs tossed so the POA has reclaimed them. We will transport these shrubs to a nursery setting and then replant later this year in other areas across Bella Vista that need beautification,” Crittenden said. 

The lot contains three buildings which were model homes for Cooper Communities. These homes were completely landscaped with gated courtyards and lots of shrubbery and perennial vegetation.

Since the offices were closed more than four years ago and watering systems turned off many of the larger azaleas have died, but roughly 40 other hardier plants have managed to survive.

Crittenden said they were told by the property owner, Casey's, to get what they wanted now because the homes will be removed or torn down in the next few weeks.

City planning director Christopher Suneson said Casey's has applied for a building permit which is under review at this time.

Casey’s spends roughly $2.4 million to $2.7 million for each location, depending on land costs. The stores are around 4,200 square feet.

“We work with select contractors in local areas for these jobs and have been quite busy with new projects over the past year or so,” Walljasper said.

All of the locations in Northwest Arkansas feature Casey’s made from scratch pizza – a top 10 brand nationally in terms of marketshare.

“Our stores also offer made-to-order sub sandwiches and fresh baked donuts with sets us apart for some of our competitors.  We began moving toward to the fresh quickserve model back in the 1980s,” Walljasper said. “Testing the prepared food business years before our competitors.”

Through the first half of fiscal 2013 total revenue for Casey’s was $3.779 million, up 3.36% from the same period a year ago. Casey’s expect to grow same-store sales in its prepared foods and fountain segments by 11% this year, through the first half same-store-sales rose 10.1% with a profit margin of 62.5%.

Grocery and other merchandise same-store sales rose 0.7% in the first half of 2013, falling way shy of the company’s 6.2% annual growth expectation.

Casey’s will report its third quarter earnings on March 12.