ANDERSON and PITTSBURGH - The executive vice president for Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle Inc. says the company's acquisition of Anderson-based Ricker Oil Co. will serve as a catalyst for future growth throughout Indiana. The deal brings Giant Eagle's GetGo Cafe + Market and Ricker's brands together. Polly Flinn, who is also the general manager of GetGo, says growth is first and foremost in the company's plans.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Flinn said new store growth could come with a local twist.

"Clearly, we see also the fact that we can begin to work with local suppliers now that we have a more material presence and be able to bring the best of Indiana into our assortment, whether it'd be in our fresh food programs or some of the specialty items that we can carry," said Flinn. "And we see a significant opportunity to grow our employee base here and as we expand, whether it's in our existing store footprint and adding hours and providing potentially e-commerce opportunities and things like that to grow our sales, but also new site growth."

Flinn says the Ricker's acquisition was attractive to Giant Eagle for a number of reasons. The popularity of the Ricker's brand and the company's operations and employees, which she describes as "best in class," played a major factor. Also, she says the acquisition was important because it allowed Giant Eagle to reach "critical mass" more quickly in the Indianapolis market, which had been a focus for the company.

Giant Eagle entered the market in 2015 with the opening of a Market District store and a GetGo Cafe + Market. The company's presence, prior to the Ricker's acquisition, had grown to seven locations in central Indiana.