Circle C Implosion

Ala. retailer files for bankruptcy, plans to liquidate

Published in CSP Daily News

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Circle C Stores Inc., a 25-store convenience chain operating in Alabama, filed for bankruptcy protection on February 27 and plans to liquidate, reported The Birmingham News. Circle C is the fourth c-store retailer to file for bankruptcy protection in 2009. The previous three are Appalachian Oil Co. (Appco), Crescent Oil and Bulk Petroleum; Flying J filed for bankruptcy in late 2008.

As reported yesterday in a CSP Daily News Flash, the privately owned, Huntsville, Ala., company intends to close stores, sell assets and pay creditors whatever [image-nocss] it can.

Court documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Decatur, Ala., and signed by company president Johnny Benson Sr. and obtained by CSP Daily News show that the company has between 50 and 99 debtors owned a total debt between $1 million and $10 million. The company estimates its assets to be between $1 million and $5 million.

Benson is also listed as one of the company's largest creditors, listed as due $700,000 for a personal loan to the company. Other top creditors, according to court documents, include GE Commercial, owed $800,000; the Internal Revenue Service, owed $500,000; CITGO Petroleum, owned $282,000; and Benson Oil Co. LLC, also based in Huntsville, owned $200,000.

The company had the rug pulled out by lenders, Kevin D. Heard of Heard & Associates LLC, the lawyer representing the chain, told the newspaper. "This economy is hurting companies with good track records," he said. "When these folks lost credit, the company just imploded from within."

The company did not return calls from CSP Daily News for comment.

The stations offer Chevron, CITGO, Conoco and unbranded fuel; most of them offer prepared foods.