Hess owns and operates 1,258 stores up and down the East Coast.

NEW YORK CITY-Hess Retail Corp. has filed plans with the SEC to spin off its gas station/convenience stores to shareholders, creating an independent company out of what currently is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hess Corp. With 1,258 locations, Hess Retail says it’s the largest c-store chain on the East Coast and the fifth largest by company-operated sites in the US.

Simultaneous with pursuing a spinoff of Hess Retail, Hess Corp. will also solicit offers to purchase the entire retail business. The New York Post reported Thursday that Hess Corp. has quietly pursued a sale since last fall, and that the retail unit could be valued at $1.5 billion.

Focused mainly on exploration and production of oil, Hess Corp. said last March that it would sell off a number of units, including the retail business, with the goal of becoming a pure-play E&P company. The Wall Street Journal noted that the announcement came about two months after Elliott Management, led by activist investor Paul Singer, bought a 4%-plus stake in Hess and began demanding changes.

Following a spinoff, Hess Retail plans to focus on improving its overall gross margin through an increase in higher margin in-store sales. Further, according to Wednesday’s SEC filing, “we intend to increase site density in our most attractive markets, including Long Island, Massachusetts, north and central New Jersey and New York, and to expand into new financially attractive markets that were previously inaccessible by law when we were affiliated with the refining activities of Hess.” If the spinoff comes to pass, Hess Retail would trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the HRE symbol.