LAVAL, Quebec — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. checked Europe off its Circle K global rebranding to-do list and is well on its way to doing the same for North America.
"We are now in the fourth year of the global rebranding project. Following the completion of our work in Europe, we now have more than 85 percent of our North American sites displaying the new Circle K brand," President and CEO Brian Hannasch reported during the company's third-quarter fiscal year 2020 earnings call, held March 17.
To date, all of the convenience stores Couche-Tard acquired through its purchase of San Antonio-based CST Brands Inc. are now sporting the new Circle K brand, and the initiative is "progressing nicely" in Canada, he added.
"As one drives across the network in the U.S. and Europe and parts of Canada, we are now proudly showing the unified Circle K brand across the majority of our markets," Hannasch explained.
Additionally, Couche-Tard is seeing traction with "meaningful reverse synergies" from its integration of Holiday Stationstores, according to the chief executive. The company added the Midwest c-store chain to its portfolio when it acquired Holiday Cos. in late 2018.
"In particular, we scaled Holiday's labor program on a new IT platform, which we now have rolled out across our entire U.S. network," Hannasch said. "Combining a best-in-class labor model with a labor schedule is allowing us to optimize our investment in people and make sure we have the right capacity to meet our customers' needs."
Additionally, Holiday and Circle K are swapping marketing tools.
"We also continue to bring Holiday's homegrown promotional activities and tools to the wider network, such as the Smart Value program, which we've continued to expand and accelerate across our global footprint and, of course, there's food pilots," he said.
As Convenience Store News previously reported, Couche-Tard has rolled out a new food program — which is heavily based on Holiday's platform — to different format stores to understand how the company can make it work broadly across its network.
"From Circle K's best practices, we finished installing Lift, our digital upsell platform, into all of the Holiday locations this quarter as a way to help them drive basket and market share gains into that market," Hannasch added.
Alimentation Couche-Tard is based in Laval. As of Feb. 2, its network comprised 9,799 stores throughout North America. Its North American network consists of 18 business units, including 14 in the United States covering 48 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces.
In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia through 10 business units. As of Feb. 2, its European network comprised 2,697 stores.
In addition, under licensing agreements, more than 2,380 stores are operated under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories, bringing the worldwide total network to more than 14,800 stores.