June 9, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

New Bessemer Distribution Hub Central to Dollar General's Plans


The chief executive of Dollar General said the company's $100 million distribution center in Bessemer will be a key component fueling the retailer's rapid growth.

"It's a perfect location for us and it's coming right when we need it," CEO Rick Dreiling said in an interview Wednesday. "The company is really doing well and, to be frank with you, this is a testament to how well the company is growing -- that we need a new distribution center."

The center is being built on 106 acres on Lakeshore Parkway near the intersection with Alabama 150. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 1 p.m. today and will include elected and economic development officials.

The center will create 650 jobs and will service nearly 1,500 stores, including the 500 in Alabama. It will be the 10th distribution center for the Tennessee-based company.

Dreiling said the company will likely begin hiring to fill a wide range of jobs in December or January.

"We will be hiring all different kinds of positions -- from management people to administrative people to heavy equipment operators to people who will work on the pick line," he said. "We're going to offer up a broad cross-section of jobs for the community."

Adding stores and jobs is something Dollar General has been doing at a rapid pace -- even at a time when other retailers are struggling or even going away.

"We will open 625 new stores this year," Dreiling said. "That's on top of the 600 we opened last year and the 250 the year before that."

Even at that clip, the company is scratching the surface when it comes to potential store sites, he said.

"We have over 11,000 opportunities out there for additional stores as we move through the years, of which 8,000 are in the existing 35 states we're in, like Alabama," Dreiling said. "We still have an opportunity to put more stores in Alabama. It's a great community for us."

Right combination

Dollar General's growth has been boosted since Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. purchased it several years ago. KKR put Dreiling -- a veteran grocery and drugstore chain executive -- at the helm in 2008 before taking Dollar General public again in 2009.

Dreiling used his expertise to revamp Dollar General's format to focus more on grocery and drug items along with the non-consumables the stores were known for. It turned out to be the right mix at the right time.

"Right now there is a new consumerism out there," Dreiling said. "If you look at Dollar General, we have the same pricing as the big supercenters, but we have the convenience of a drugstore. It puts us in a position where we're priced right and we're close to the consumer's home."

The added shock of rising gas prices to an already struggling economy has customers looking to save money in every way they can, he said.

"The customer, regardless of their income strata, is looking for good, reliable buys on everyday, basic products," he said.

Dreiling said Dollar General will start construction within a few days of today's groundbreaking and should be finished by the second quarter of next year.

The jobs figure could grow beyond the 650, Dreiling said.

"That could grow long term," he said. "That's where we're starting at, which is about what we average with a distribution center with 1,200 to 1,300 stores in it."

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