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Casey’s General Stores buys Stop-n-Go

FARGO – The familiar stoplight-themed signs of Stop-n-Go convenience stores will soon be no more as Iowa-based Casey’s General Stores, Inc. has purchased the Fargo-based regional chain.

The acquisition will likely be finalized in early May, said Bill Walljasper, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s General Stores.

“We have been eyeing for several years, trying to expand into that area,” Walljasper said. “We certainly noticed Stop-n-Go as a very strong competitor. We’re always looking for an opportunity to build or buy.”

The 24 Stop-n-Go stores in North Dakota and Minnesota will be rebranded as soon as the sale is finalized, Walljapser said.

Many, if not all, will be remodeled, adding Casey’s prepared food operations that include fresh-made pizzas, made-to-order sub sandwiches and doughnuts, he said.

Walljasper said the acquisition is hopefully a “springboard” for more development in North Dakota.

Casey’s expansion plans for the current fiscal year include building or acquiring 70 to 100 stores, Walljasper said. It now has more than 1,770 stores in 14 states.

Casey’s already has locations in south Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., with nearby stores in   Dilworth and Lake Park, Minn.,  and Horace, N.D.

Walljasper said Casey’s approached Stop-n-Go, and conversations continued on-and-off until they became more serious last April.

He would not disclose how much Casey’s paid for the 24 stores.

Current staff likely won’t be affected by the change, said Brian Johnson, vice president of finance.

He said adding the prepared food typically means a need for more staff.

“We don’t look at this as some sort of strategy to consolidate expenses,” Johnson said. “We think it’s a nice deal for the employees.”

Casey’s was founded in 1959 in Des Moines, Iowa. It employs more than 27,000 people. It had total revenue of $7.2 billion in its last fiscal year, which ended April 30, 2013.

Shares were trading at 66.93 Wednesday afternoon.

Stop-n-Go has locations in Fargo, West Fargo, Jamestown, Hillsboro, Carrington, Wahpeton and Valley City, N.D., and Moorhead, Dilworth and Fergus Falls, Minn., according to its website.

Shelly Ellig purchased the Stop-n-Go stores from Mid-America Dairies in 1974.

Ellig, who died in 2010 at the age of 82, was a noted Fargo entrepreneur and philanthropist. He gave large donations to Oak Grove Lutheran School, North Dakota State University, Red River Zoo and Shanley High School.

Stop-n-Go has donated to charities, nonprofit organizations and local sports teams through a Giving Back program.

A receptionist at Stop-n-Go’s south Fargo general office said Wednesday no one from the company would be making a comment at this time.

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