Two Springfield based companies – Big Y Foods Inc. and F.L. Roberts & Co. Inc. – the region’s largest, independently owned companies, are developing their own brand of convenience stores with fuel services.
The first Big Y Express outlet will open in October in Lee at the Massachusetts Turnpike Exit site of the old Texaco station, according to an announcement by company president Steve Roberts.
The partners plan to roll out more stores in the future.
This will be Big Y’s first venture into vehicle fueling — which is a trend for grocery retailers. Price Chopper stores have a “relationship” with local Sonoco gasoline stations while some Stop & Shops have their own branded fuel on site, such as in Pittsfield on Dan Fox Highway
Big Y, founded in 1936, is one of the largest family-owned supermarket chains in New England. F.L. Roberts, founded in 1920, claims to be one of the largest independent petroleum marketer in Western MA.
For the venture, F.L. Roberts will be the operating partner and fuel supplier, while Big Y provides expertise marketing snack, grocery, freshly made and ready-to-eat offerings, the company said.
“Instead of selling out to a big conglomerate chain,” F.L. Roberts president Steve Roberts said in a statement, “two local, well-established companies are combining their expertise to help each other grow to better service our customers and communities.”
The two companies employ almost 11,000 people in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The new Lee outlet is adjacent to the Big Y supermarket and only separated by the Masschusetts Turnpike.
The companies will combine their customer loyalty programs. Both Big Y Savings Card customers and F.L. Roberts Rewards Plus customers will qualify for discounts on gas purchases and other store merchandise.
Big Y costumers will be able to use their Silver Savings card at F.L. Roberts locations for the same benefits offered in the F.L. Roberts Rewards Plus program. Members holding an F.L. Roberts card, however, will receive savings benefits at Big Y Express locations only, not at Big Y grocery stores due to software conflict.
Throughout WMASS and Connecticut there are 29 stores in the Roberts chain. This will be its 30th. F.L. Roberts operates a series of convenience stores, Jiffy Lubes, car washes, and truck refueling facilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In September 2010, Big Y purchased the 10-acre parcel where the 51,500-square-foot supermarket is located for $4.25 million from F.L. Roberts, which had formerly operated Diesel Dan’s truck stop plaza on the Housatonic Street parcel.
The company was originally interested in converting the lot into a $21.5 million travel plaza, but sold it to Big Y when the economic downturn caused those plans to fall through.
In 2012, Big Y sold the supermarket parcel for $14.6 million to its Ohio-based developer to help finance the construction of the mammoth market, which cost between $14 million and $16 million to build, according to published reports.
In a statement, Steve Roberts, president of F.L. Roberts & Co., described the partnership between the two well-established companies as being “unique” in today’s business environment because it will help grow the local economy.
“Instead of selling out to a big conglomerate or chain, two local well-established companies are combining their expertise to help each grow to better serve our customers and communities,” he said.
Founded in 1936, Big Y operates 60 stores throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, which include Adams, Great Barrington, Lee, North Adams and Pittsfield.