Growth and Strategy
CST's strategy is built on three key growth pillars: 1) increasing merchandise sales and margins through expanded in-store offerings, including higher margin food offerings; 2) increasing the larger store portfolio organically through new-to-industry store construction; and 3) growing the larger store portfolio through strategic merger and acquisition opportunities. In addition, we continue to maximize fuel profits through exceptional facilities, purchasing strength and pricing strategies.
Organic growth has been propelled by our new-to-industry construction. Over the last three years, we have built over 100 new stores, which provide the space for a superior customer experience, expanded merchandise offering and high-value fresh food programs. Built on sites large enough to also accommodate the company's high-volume fuel business, these stores yield significantly higher gross profits than our legacy stores with a higher percentage coming from non-fuel gross profits.
Acquisitions have also been an important pillar of growth. In the first quarter of 2016, CST acquired the 165-site Flash Foods network in Georgia and Florida, including many large format stores in the fast-growing Southeast market. In 2015, we expanded our network with the purchase of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes in New York and 22 Timewise stores in Texas. With our strategic ownership of the General Partner of CrossAmerica Partners LP, we also substantially extended our reach in the mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest region of the country through the acquisitions of One Stop, Erickson Oil, and Holiday Stationstores.