A Charleston-based convenience store chain will expand sixfold under a new business partnership.
Texas-based private equity firm First Reserve said it entered an agreement this week to acquire the five-store Refuel chain from owner Mark Jordan of Charleston along with more than two dozen stores in the Pee Dee region from Hartsville-based West Oil Inc.
The South Carolina stores, operating under the Markette and West Oil labels in the northeast part of the state, will be rebranded as Refuel and upgraded. Jordan will lead the new 31-store venture along with business partner Travis Smith of Houston.
Jordan, CEO of Refuel, called the partnership with First Reserve and acquisition of West Oil "an opportunity to increase our scale and density in the attractive South Carolina market" and "accelerate our growth strategy."
First Reserve termed the retail fuel distribution sector "highly fragmented" and believes the combination of Refuel and West Oil creates an opportunity for further expansion in "an attractive regional market."
"First Reserve has a history of backing experienced management teams with strong middle-market platforms to drive growth and create value for our stakeholders," managing directors Gary Reaves and Neil Wizel said in a prepared statement.
The transactions are expected to close in the first half of 2019. Financial details were not disclosed.
Jordan opened his first Refuel gas station in 2008, promising fresh healthy food options and exemplified service to change the image and perception of traditional convenience stores. He now operates five locations in Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, West Ashley and Goose Creek.
"When someone thinks of the words ‘food’ and ‘gas station,’ they usually don’t associate the word ‘fresh,’" according to the company's website. "Refuel aims to change this."
Its dishes include pizza, barbecued chicken, chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, brisket, biscuits, chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, fried okra and an array of finger foods.
"Only our gas station serves the freshest foods with that ‘Home Made Taste,’" the website proclaims.
"They are designed so you know it's not an oil company running them," Jordan said. "They have an identity to them."