QuikTrip will achieve a milestone Thursday with the opening of its 700th store.
The addition of the St. Louis site marks the fastest expansion in the history of the Tulsa-based convenience chain, which has opened 100 stores in the last two years.
“The new growth is absolutely phenomenal in its own right. However, when you include the relocation of existing stores, rebuilds on existing locations, and the remodeling for our full service fresh food offer, QuikTrip employees have performed absolutely herculean feats,” said Chet Cadieux, president and CEO of QuikTrip Corp., in a written statement.
“I continue to be humbled by the dedication and flawless execution of our long-term strategy by QuikTrip employees; yet the biggest source of pride for me personally is the hiring of 5,000 new employees during that same time frame,” Cadieux said.
Among other milestones, QuikTrip last week opened its 50th store in the Carolinas with the addition of a site in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We accomplished this in less than 3 years, which is the fastest new store growth for a new division in QuikTrip’s history,” Cadieux said.
Reasons for the chain’s rapid expansion are plentiful, but its fresh food offerings have accelerated much of the growth and will play a big part going forward, said Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public and government affairs for QuikTrip Corp.
Thornbrugh noted that development of a new store can take three to five years, as the chain must find the right location and then go through numerous steps to finally get the store open.
“We’ve had a great deal of success of getting them permitted quickly, and we’ve had construction groups ready to go,” he said. “So, it’s a combination of everything, but it truly takes a long time from spotting land to becoming a reality. But we’ve dedicated the resources, we’ve dedicated the personnel, and they’re making it happen.”
Whereas it took a little over four years for QuikTrip to expand from 500 to 600 stores, the chain skyrocketed to 700 stores in two years.
“You can see that we’re focused,” Thornbrugh said.
He noted that QuikTrip will continue building stores, but probably not at the same pace as in the last couple of years. By the end of 2014, the chain plans to have full-service QT Kitchens in most of its stores across the country.
The kitchens offer made-to-order food and drinks 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at more than 40 Tulsa locations.
All of QuikTrip’s Generation 3 stores have the kitchens, but remodeling crews are working rapidly to retrofit existing stores. More than 70 percent of “Gen 2½” stores are now adapted in the Tulsa market.
QuikTrip also is adding an 80,000-square-foot wing to its corporate offices at 4705 S. 129th East Ave. The construction project should be completed by next spring.
“It can’t get there soon enough because there’s no room to move anymore,” Thornbrugh said.
QuikTrip, a privately held corporation, operates in 11 states.