After more than doubling its store count in the last two years, the Savannah, Ga.-based convenience retailer is destined to make more headway in 2019.
By David Bennett, Senior Editor
Since becoming president of Enmarket Convenience Stores in 2017, industry veteran Brett Giesick has led the c-store chain during one of the most ambitious development phases in its history, including two major acquisitions, a new prototype store and the adoption of several technology-based service programs.
“With the debut of our new store prototype and other new-to-industry stores, the continued pursuit of acquisition opportunities, and a brand-new office, 2019 is shaping up to be an historic year for Enmarket,” Giesick said.
Giesick formerly served as the chief retail officer of CEFCO Convenience Stores before making his way to Savannah, Ga.-based Enmarket two years ago.
PAST AND PRESENT
The company lately has been enhancing historical roots, linking Enmarket to some of the communities where it operates. A shining example is the design of a new 3,522-square-foot convenience store at 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Savannah. It draws from the site’s transportation-related history, located near the Central of Georgia Railway and Georgia State Railroad Museum.
The museum and surrounding properties are considered the most complete antebellum railroad complex in the U.S. and are included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The planned store is a rebuild of an older Enmark-branded kiosk. Expansion to a modified, smaller prototype c-store was made possible when the company purchased an adjacent property. A wide selection of healthy snacks and fresh fruit, a full kitchen and a 28-degree beer cave with a wide selection of local craft beers are all notable improvements to the former kiosk site. The non-traditional store will include an outdoor dining patio, a green space and a bike service area. Enmarket is contracting with a local artist to design and paint a community-themed mural on one of the exterior walls.
At the same time, the retailer is moving quickly with a full-sized prototype of approximately 6,000 square feet. The first will open in February 2019 in Pooler, Ga., where customers and commuters can experience Enmarket’s proprietary food concept, the Eatery, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menu selections include hand-breaded fried chicken, fried fish and freshly made biscuits, along with grab-and-go salads, sandwiches, fruit cups and parfaits—all made fresh in the store’s kitchen.
Enmarket has also created a unique space in Swainsboro, Ga. The 4,300-square-foot store features a variety of healthy and flavorful food options, plus 20 fueling positions that offer gasoline, diesel, off-road diesel and ethanol-free fuel.
Enmarket currently operates 123 convenience stores and 14 quick-serve restaurants.
Enmarket was founded in 1963 as Interstate Stations by Robert Demere in Savannah, Ga. Enmarket operated as Interstate Stations until 1990, when the name was changed to Enmark. In 2015, the company opened its first two stores branded as Enmarket, a rebranding process that will be completed in 2019.
The company’s construction team was busy, spending most of 2018 in Georgia reimaging the exterior of 34 Clyde’s Markets locations purchased in December 2017.
“This involved resurfaced canopies, new main IDs, painting, new building signage, and in many stores, new fuel dispensers,” Giesick said. “We finished the exterior part of the project around the end of summer and have since begun interior reimaging. The interior project involved new fountain and frozen carbonated beverage machines in nearly every store, and new hot dispensed beverage equipment in all stores. We’re refinishing many counters, upgrading gondolas and tobacco fixtures and bringing our Enmarket branding to every store.” The total reimage project—inside and out—for Clyde’s is expected to be completed by January 2019.
While managing the Clyde’s projects, the team was also planning a scope of work for the 34 South Carolina-based EZ Shop stores, which the company acquired from Brabham Oil Inc.—just four months following the Clyde’s acquisition.
Both companies have ties that date back to 1929, when Clarence Brabham opened a small wholesale petroleum business as a reseller for Colonial Oil. Brabham Oil served as a wholesale jobber for major fuel brands such as Shell, BP, Phillips 66 and Chevron for several decades. Brabham Oil launched private-label gasoline under the Horizon brand in 1999.
With the reimaging of fuel dispensers, canopies and store exteriors now under construction, plans are being finalized to begin remodeling the inside of the stores. This is on top of the acquisitions of a Handy Dan-branded store in Ridgeland, S.C. and a Joker Joe’s Truck Stop in Hardeeville, S.C. in September 2018.
“When it is all said and done in the fall of 2019, all of the stores we acquired, including the two most recent single-store acquisitions in Ridgeland and Hardeeville, will be fully rebranded inside and outside as an Enmarket,” Giesick said.
To keep pace with a fast-moving industry, Enmarket is implementing new technology focused on enhancing the customer experience.
One innovation pertains to the addition of a mobile payment system the company will be rolling out soon. The payment platform Enmarket is designing with NCR and P97 is going to bring frictionless payment to its store fuel dispensers, allowing customers to transact without swiping a card. Inside the store, the platform will serve as a mobile wallet for customers, allowing multiple methods of payment to be integrated with mobile coupons, loyalty and other discounting opportunities for our customers—all with one swipe.
“It will also be a hub for a massive amount of data that will help us better understand the habits and tendencies of our customers,” Giesick said. “We’ll use this data to more effectively market to our customers, giving them a more meaningful shopping experience.”
Enmarket a few months ago also partnered with Skip Checkout for its mobile self-checkout service. Skip is a mobile checkout technology that allows for customers to walk into a store and use their cell phone to scan their items, pay for them and walk out without waiting in line. Customers can use the Enmarket app or the Skip app.
“Starbucks, Panera, Sam’s Club, and many other brick and mortar retailers have proven that a vast number of customers are willing to manage part of the transaction themselves in order to bypass a line,” Giesick said. “Skip allows us to give our customers that option. From an employee point of view, they will be notified when Skip customers are shopping, and also when they have completed a transaction.”
Enmarket plans to implement Skip in early 2019.
Skip’s technology includes security features that will limit opportunities for shrink. From a customer service standpoint, Giesick said, this additional payment option will relieve some register congestion and allow Enmarket employees to focus more time on customer satisfaction. Enmarket plans is to launch Skip at all of their stores.
Last but not least, Enmarket is working on a new mobile app that will allow these new technologies to integrate with one another.