OPIS recently wrote that it had confirmed with multiple sources that Lazard is showing a “book” on the Kentucky-based convenience chain.
An oil market analyst firm indicates that Thorntons Inc. is exploring a sale, the Courier & Press recently reported.
OPIS, or Oil Price Information Service, said the Louisville, Ky.-based retailer with locations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, has retained investment banker Lazard to examine selling its 192-store operation.
OPIS recently wrote that it had confirmed with multiple sources that Lazard is showing a “book” on Thorntons,” the Courier & Press reported. That typically details customer data and other closely held sales and marketing information.
“In a busy period for M&A (mergers and acquisitions), downstream retailers may soon find out how hot the market is for acquiring a ‘New Era’ station chain” as the “well regarded” Thorntons explores a sale, according to OPIS.
Thorntons Marketing Manager Kelly Leonardo told the Courier & Press: “While we don’t comment on rumor or speculation, we see great growth ahead for Thorntons this year and in future years and we are very happy with our business.”
Entrepreneur James Thornton founded the company in 1971 but he started selling gasoline from a small station in New Albany in 1952.
It’s grown to become one of the country’s top independent convenience store chains. In late 2015, when Thornton was inducted into the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, his company ranked approximately 250th out of 500 of Forbes magazine’s list of the nation’s largest privately held companies. Then its reported annual revenue was more than $2.3 billion.
More than 15 years ago, the company made a big move in trying to capture more sales of convenience and grocery items. It transformed its more traditional gas and convenience stops to stores that featured big broad, glass fronts and bigger, brighter interiors where shoppers were inclined to make impulse buys of food and supplies while they refuel at the pumps.
The company operates under an employee stock ownership plan in which roughly 1,700 employees participate in a plan with net assets exceeding $21 million, as of December 2016. Matt Thornton, son of the company’s founder and chairman, became president and chief executive in fall 2001.