Publicly traded convenience store chain The Pantry has enlisted Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher as it fends off a dissident proxy challenge ahead of its March 13 annual meeting.

kangaroo expressA group including JCP Investment Management in Houston and Lone Star Value Management of Old Greenwich, Conn., is pushing an alternative slate of three board candidates in a bid to improve governance and performance at Cary, N.C.-based The Pantry.

Connecticut-based InvestorCom is handling the outreach campaign for the group, which dubs itself Concerned Pantry Shareholders and frets about a sluggish stock price, debt levels, and the current Pantry board's "minimal" ownership of less than 1% of the company.  The group's slate picked up the endorsement of three proxy advisory firms, Glass Lewis & Co., Institutional Shareholder Services, and Egan-Jones.

The Pantry, which says its board and management are following a strategic plan to improve the business and shareholder value, said it is "disappointed" in the Glass Lewis report and challenged its accuracy. It also blasted the shareholder group for a "similar disregard for the facts and carelessness" in touting the flawed report.

The Pantry runs 1,567 stores in 13 states under the Kangaroo Express name. 

Innisfree M&A Incorporated is helping The Pantry promote its slate of board candidates to shareholders.

Joele Frank president Matthew Sherman and partner Andrew Siegel are advising The Pantry, which posted a fiscal first quarter net loss of $5.1M on revenue of $1.8B in the fourth quarter.