Matrix Capital Markets Group, Inc., a leading, independent investment bank, announces that it has advised West Oil, Inc. on the sale of its 25 Markette convenience stores and one Lotto Land convenience store in South Carolina to FR Refuel, LLC, a portfolio company of First Reserve, a leading global private equity investment firm exclusively focused on energy. The transaction also includes 2 car wash properties and 3 vacant lots for future development.
West’s stores are primarily located in northeastern South Carolina and are modern, well-maintained facilities. Fourteen of the stores sell Shell branded motor fuels, and the remaining 12 stores carry the Company’s proprietary West Oil fuel brand. The stores offer a full array of convenience merchandise, and 6 stores have proprietary deli offerings. As part of the transaction, FR Refuel is acquiring the fee simple interest in 25 of the stores and a leasehold interest in the remaining property.
West Oil traces its roots back to 1964, when Lee West founded the Company in Hartsville, South Carolina. In 1973, Lee’s son, Alexander West Sr., joined the Company, assisting his father in opening their first retail store in Hartsville that same year. The Company had grown to 15 stores when Alexander (Lex) West Jr. joined the family business in 1989. Lex’s partner, Reginald (Bunky) Joyce III, joined the Company in 1993, and in 2003, they finalized the buyout of the Company from Alexander Sr.
Under the leadership of Lex West, the Company’s current President, and Bunky Joyce, Vice President, the Company continued to grow its highly regarded Markette convenience store chain while also expanding and diversifying its product and service offerings. In 2009, the Company introduced its proprietary fuel brand, West Oil, to diversify its fuel supply sources, and the West Oil branded sites are now some of the Company’s highest performing locations. In addition to its petroleum marketing operations, the Company also owns a propane distribution business, multiple wine and spirits shops, a mini storage business, and owns and develops other real estate. After over 50 years in operation, the shareholders decided to exit the convenience store business to diversify their wealth and focus on other business ventures.
Matrix provided merger and acquisition advisory services to West, which included valuation advisory, marketing the business through a confidential, structured sale process, and negotiation of the transaction. The transaction was managed by Cedric Fortemps, Co-Head of Matrix’s Downstream Energy & Convenience Retail Group; Vance Saunders, Managing Director; Stephen Lynch, Vice President; and John Mickelinc, Analyst.
Lex West, President of West Oil, Inc., commented “It was not an easy decision to sell a family run business of 40 years. My grandfather and father built a strong foundation for the growth of the Markette brand. That growth would not have been possible without our outstanding employees and loyal customers. Bunky and I wanted to ensure that the new owners valued the family-oriented culture of Markette and upheld the values of excellence in customer service and commitment to community service. Matrix assisted us in finding new owners that fit the bill. In addition, Matrix provided strong support and professional guidance through every step of the process to ensure a smooth transition to the next phase. Matrix was the right choice for us.”
Mr. Fortemps added, “The West family and Bunky have built an incredible company, and we’re honored that they engaged us to advise them on the difficult decision to exit this third-generation business. We are very pleased that we were able to help achieve their goals and with a buyer that will continue to run the business in a manner consistent with the values that guided them for so many years.”
Otto Konrad, Elizabeth Carr, and Arrion Dennis of Williams Mullen served as legal counsel for West.