Big Y Foods, Inc. and F.L. Roberts & Co., Inc., two long-established family businesses in western Massachusetts, are launching their own brand of convenience stores with fuel under the name Big Y Express.

The first facility will open this fall in Lee, Mass., at Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike, the companies said in a statement. The location is several hundred feet from Big Y’s new World Class Market on Housatonic St. in Lee. The supermarket will provide product support for the new convenience store. F. L. Roberts has been supplying fuel to the previous operator of the service station at the site which will now feature Big Y brand gasolines and diesel fuel.

The Lee location will feature a retail design and merchandising format that will be new for both Big Y and F. L. Roberts. It will incorporate the traditional F.L. Roberts product mix along with many Big Y proprietary private brand products, such as Big Y milk and fresh baked breads. This will be Big Y’s first venture into the vehicle fueling arena. Big Y Savings Card customers and F. L. Roberts RewardsPlus customers will be able to save money on gas purchases as well as earn discounts toward other store merchandise.

Big Y and F.L. Roberts have been conducting business in Western Massachusetts for more than 75 and 90 years, respectively. They have partnered in many cross-marketing efforts.

Contributing to the economic growth and development of the greater Springfield area is a priority for both companies. “This new partnership gives us the best of both worlds. On the one hand, we can learn about gas stations and convenience stores. On the other, we are able to provide our expertise in food coupled with a strong private brand to enhance the experience for our customers,” says Big Y President and COO Charles L. D’Amour.

Steve Roberts, F.L. Roberts’ president, said the venture will add to local economic growth. “Instead of selling out to a big conglomerate or chain, two local well-established companies are combining their expertise to help each other grow to better service our customers and communities,” he said.

Big Y is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. Founded in 1936 by brothers Paul and Gerald D’Amour, the company operates 60 stores throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut with almost 10,000 employees. Currently, both the second and third generation of D’Amours are at the helm of the company.

F.L. Roberts & Co. is the largest independent petroleum marketer in Western Massachusetts. The 4th generation family-owned business was founded in 1920 by Frank L. Roberts as an automotive parts and tire business in the south end of Springfield. Today, the company has expanded to include other automotive specialties at nearly 60 sites with 500 employees serving both motorists and neighborhoods in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Its network of automotive service companies includes 26 convenience stores, 19 car washes, nine Jiffy Lubes, two truck refueling centers and the Whately Diner. Currently both third and fourth generation Roberts manage the business.