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America’s Success Story

Henry Armour’s keynote highlights the convenience industry’s remarkable progress.
October 19, 2017

​CHICAGO – NACS President and CEO Henry Armour’s enthusiasm and respect for the convenience industry was on full display during Thursday’s General Session. Armour set the tone for a spotlight on NACS’ rebranding initiative, media and legislative successes and the c-store industry’s leadership in communities across the globe.

“The world is clearly changing and there’s never been a better time to rebrand, refresh and reposition the definition of convenience,” Armour said. “I love the versatility of our ‘C.’ It can stand for customers, connections and collaboration. ‘C’ can stand for choice—healthier options or more indulgent ones. Or it can stand for community.”

The U.S. convenience store industry serves 160 million customers per day. On average, more than half of the U.S. population is at a convenience store every day. Additionally, NACS has contributed $990 million annually to charitable organizations. And recently, NACS partnered with several leading organizations, including the American Red Cross, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and Keep America Beautiful, to support a healthier and cleaner America. Armour reminded retailers that in times of natural disasters, c-stores often are the first responders to our nation’s first responders.

If ever NACS needed a sign that it was on the right track with its mission, it just had to look out the window of its corporate headquarters on the day of this year’s total eclipse. There, a half-moon resembled a perfect “C” against a dark sky. 

Yet despite the convenience industry’s many positive contributions, some negative misperceptions remain. Trash, for example, remains a concern of many communities. Yet the concern is unfounded, Armour said.

“It turns out we have a positive story to tell because we’re already part of the solution,” he said. “Our customers use our trash receptacles to dispose of their trash from their cars. And most of that trash isn’t even ours.”

Armour praised retailers for their aggressive and collective voice in representing the industry to the media and U.S. Congress. He noted a New York Times story written by its restaurant critic that praised c-store food. And he heralded the industry’s legislative victories in the menu-labeling debate, SNAP regulations and swipe fees.

“These stories are due to you, our members,” Armour said. “Congress said it had heard from more retailers about swipe fees than it did from banks. Pundits said we wouldn’t win because banks were more powerful and had more money, but we were victorious.”

Other retail channels are under attack because the internet has redefined convenience in an attempt to reduce wait times to days and hours, Armour said. However, the convenience industry is focused on giving its customers what they want, when they want it.

“If you’re hungry, we have food now. If you’re thirsty, we have drinks now,” he said. “We are all about focusing on the future, spurring continuous innovation, serving as the industry voice to the media and elected officials and never losing sight of the fact that what is good enough today might not be good enough tomorrow.”