LAVAL, Quebec — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. sits in the No. 2 position on this year's Convenience Store News Top 100 Chains report, and if its recent growth activity is any indication, it doesn’t intend to give up that spot anytime soon.
In early November, the parent company of the global Circle K brand closed on its part of an acquisition that spilt up the assets of MAPCO. The deal added 112 sites to the company's network, "accelerating our development in key markets in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, and adding approximately 1,300 team members to the Couche-Tard family," President and CEO Brian Hannasch said during the retailer's recent earnings call for the second quarter of its 2024 fiscal year.
"We also received a very important decision by the European Commission allowing us to, now in only a few weeks, complete the acquisition of [TotalEnergies SE] in four new European countries," he added. "We're excited to welcome the TotalEnergies teams into the family and begin the journey of realizing significant value for all of our stakeholders."
[Read more: Alimentation Couche-Tard Aims to 'Win' With Five-Year Strategic Plan]
Merger-and-acquisition activity aside, Couche-Tard also has a goal to build 500 new convenience stores over the next five years. According to Hannasch, the company has completed 40 new stores this fiscal year, with more than 100 sites in its construction pipeline and 1,000 sites identified for future growth opportunities.
Additionally, Couche-Tard added 20 new Circle K-branded sites during the quarter under licensing agreements, bringing that total to more than 2,100 sites.
Inside the Stores
Couche-Tard is not only growing its store count, but also its in-store offers.
The company's Fresh Food Fast program is now in more than 5,500 locations globally and, according to the chief executive, Couche-Tard's operations teams continue to improve execution in the stores as the retailer simplifies performance and increases the number of locally relevant items and trials in its markets.
[Read more: Circle K Rewards Program Gains Steam]
"Our LTO [limited-time offer] sandwiches continue to perform well, as does our cookie offers," Hannasch reported.
The retailer also has built up its partnership with Mashgin Touchless Checkout Systems. "We're continuing to implement solutions that reduce administrative hours, making it easier for our teams and allowing them to focus more on serving the customers," the CEO explained. "With that in mind, we now have more than 3,250 Smart Checkouts globally, which contribute to savings on labor hours while improving the customer checkout experience.
"With technology at the forefront of every customer and team member experience, we're focused on market agility, quality and reliability in the support of these objectives," he added.
On the Forecourt
Turning to its fuel offer, Couche-Tard has completed rebranding efforts at 4,300 Circle K fuel sites in North America. The company continued promotional activities during the second quarter, including its first global Couche-Tard/Circle K Fuel Day.
"The Fuel Days offer valuable discounts [at] the pump, as well as fuel cars to save on future visits. We're bringing increased exposure to our new brand and significant value to our customers," Hannasch said.
He also pointed out that the company's electric vehicle fast charging network now consists of almost 1,900 charging stalls — up more than 50% from the same quarter last year. Additionally, it has more than 40 chargers for heavy trucks in Sweden and 11,000-plus home and workplace chargers deployed in Europe.
Laval-based Couche-Tard is a global leader in convenience and mobility, operating in 25 countries and territories, with more than 14,400 stores, of which approximately 10,800 offer road transportation fuel. With its well-known Couche-Tard and Circle K banners, it is one of the largest independent convenience store operators in the United States and a leader in the convenience store industry and road transportation fuel retail in Canada, Scandinavia, the Baltics and Ireland. It also has an important presence in Poland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Approximately 128,000 people are employed throughout its network.