Matrix Capital Markets Group, an independent investment bank, advised Fayetteville, NC-based Li’l Thrift Food Marts and its affiliates  on the sale of the company’s 43 company-operated petroleum marketing and convenience retail stores to an affiliate of Petroleum Marketing Group.

Li’l Thrift was founded in 1971 by Vance B. Neal with a single store in Burlington, NC. The company nearly doubled in size in 1985 with the acquisition of E-Z Shop, a 23-store North Carolina convenience retailer and in 2004, added seven Exxon-branded locations to its portfolio, which provided an expanded presence in the Fayetteville market. In 2010, Vance Neal’s son, Chris, became president of the company, and along with his sister, Mary Morketter, vice president, have continued to build upon their father’s legacy. They successfully implemented a program to modernize Li’l Thrift’s IT systems, by integrating scanning and fuel equipment software, and have remained truly committed to the company’s high standards of cleanliness and customer service.

All stores operate under the Short Stop backcourt branding, which is recognized as highly reputable in the company’s markets of operation. The stores offer a variety of fuel options including 19 locations that market Exxon-branded fuel, five sites that feature the Marathon banner, 18 sites that offer unbranded fuel and one location that does not offer fuel. A related entity owned by Chris Neal, Ace Fueling, will continue to serve as a common carrier hauler for the Short Stop stores.

Matrix provided merger and acquisition advisory services to Li’l Thrift, which included valuation advisory, marketing the business through a confidential, structured sale process and negotiation of the transaction. The transaction was managed by David Corbett, CFA, director; Spencer Cavalier, CFA, ASA, co-head of Matrix’s downstream energy and convenience retail investment banking group; John Mickelinc, CFA, senior associate and Alexander Rakos, senior analyst.

“I would like to thank David, Spencer, John and Alex for all that they have done in helping our family exit the convenience store business that we have been involved in for over 50 years,” Chris Neal, president of Li’l Thrift, said. “Matrix was instrumental in shaping the way we went to market, how we evaluated bids and eventually choosing PMG as the successful bidder. My family is extremely grateful to Matrix for guiding us through the whole process. We believe that PMG will continue the same family traditions that have guided us over the years.”

“Vance, Chris and Mary have worked tirelessly for more than 50 years to build Li’l Thrift and the Short Stop chain into one of the leading convenience retail portfolios in the Carolinas,” Corbett said. “It was a pleasure and an honor to represent the Neal family in the sale of the business during such a transformative and important time.”

Larry Parker and Rakesh Parikh of Williams Mullen served as legal counsel for Li’l Thrift.