LAVAL, Quebec — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and McGill University are teaming up to open a lab store where faculty and students can conduct research and testing in a real retail environment.
Located on McGill University's downtown campus in Montreal, Quebec, the store provides a rare peak into innovation being considered by Couche-Tard, report BNN Bloomberg.
The store features a cashierless corner where shoppers enter and check out using the Couche-Tard mobile app. In 2020, the global convenience retailer said it was preparing to roll out automated checkout at select store in the U.S.
"By having a live laboratory, we are confident that the research projects and technologies successfully tested at the lab may eventually be implemented in some of our 14,220 stores across our global network," Couche-Tard Chief Technology Officer Deborah Hall Lefevre said in a press release. Laval-based Couche-Tard is the parent company of the global Circle K banner.
The university lab store has a heavier-than-usual focus on healthy products and does not sell alcohol or tobacco products, according to the report.
The lab is part of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management, which opened in late 2018 with the goal of offering a curriculum that’s attuned to the realities of the business.
As of Oct. 11, 2020, Couche-Tard's network comprised 9,261 convenience stores throughout North America. Its North American network consists of 18 business units, including 14 in the United States covering 47 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. Its network comprised 2,722 stores.
In addition, under licensing agreements, more than 2,220 stores were operated under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories, which brings the worldwide total network to more than 14,200 stores.