West Oil exits c-store business

West Oil Inc. has sold 25 Markette convenience stores and one Lotto Land c-store in South Carolina to FR Refuel LLC, a portfolio company of First Reserve, a global private-equity investment firm exclusively focused on energy.

After more than 50 years in operation, shareholders decided to exit the convenience-store business to diversify their wealth and focus on other business ventures. The transaction also includes two car-wash properties and three vacant lots.

West’s stores are mostly in northeastern South Carolina and are modern, well-maintained facilities. Fourteen of the stores sell Shell-branded motor fuels and 12 stores carry the company’s proprietary West Oil fuel brand. The stores offer a full array of convenience merchandise, and six 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. Under the leadership of Lex West, the company’s current president, and Bunky Joyce, vice president, the company continued to grow its Markette c-store chain while also expanding and diversifying its product and service offerings.

In 2009, the company introduced its West Oil fuel brand to diversify its supply sources, and the West Oil branded sites are now among the highest-performing locations, the company said.

In addition to its petroleum marketing operations, West Oil also owns a propane distribution business, multiple wine and spirits shops and a mini storage business, and it owns and develops other real estate.

In February, Stamford, Conn.-based First Reserve created a retail fuel distribution investment platform through the acquisition of Refuel Inc., a Charleston, S.C.-based retail fuel distribution and c-store chain. As its first expansion acquisition for the Refuel brand, First Reserve agreed to acquire West Oil.