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Pantry C-Store Chain Sues Kroger, Sheetz Over Low Gas Prices

SANFORD, N.C. -- The Pantry, Inc., a convenience store chain based here, has accused two of its competitors, Kroger and Sheetz, of illegally undercutting the price of gasoline in a town outside Raleigh, N.C., according to published reports.

The Pantry, which operates convenience stores in the Southeast, filed the lawsuit last month, accusing Cincinnati-based Kroger, the second largest supermarket operator in America (according to PROGRESSIVE GROCER's latest Super 50 list, released in the May 1 issue), and standout c-store operator Sheetz of consistently selling gas below wholesale cost, by as much as 12 cents per gallon, between Feb. 21 and March 7. All three retailers sell gas within two miles of each other in Fuquay-Varina, a town 20 miles south of Raleigh.

The lawsuit is based on a North Carolina state law prohibiting retailers from selling gas at prices below their wholesale cost, according to reports. The law allows retailers to charge below wholesale cost in two instances: during a 10-day grand-opening window, and if they are dropping their price to match a competitor's.

A Sheetz spokesman told the Associated Press that the company has not broken the North Carolina law. Kroger did not comment on the report.
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