Couche-Tard Takes 'Deep Dive' Into Electric Vehicle Learnings
LAVAL, Quebec — At the end of its 2018 fiscal year, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. designated Norway as the laboratory for testing different approaches to the changing fuels market, namely electric vehicles (EV). Now, the retailer is taking a close look at the results.
During the company's latest earnings call, President and CEO Brian Hannasch shared that he was planning to head to Norway this month for a deep dive into the issue.
"I think to date we've felt a pretty good understanding of the charging occasions, the frequency that people charge at home, at work or shopping occasions, and then in our stores," Hannasch said during a Nov. 28 call detailing the company's second-quarter fiscal 2019 results.
Couche-Tard installed cameras at a number of sites with EV charging stations to learn what customers are doing while they are charging their vehicles.
"How do we take advantage of that? In terms of that, we've launched really enhanced food programs at a number of those sites. We think we can make that shopping experience even more relevant with the additional time they've got," Hannasch explained.
"In terms of how we're being impacted, I think it's in line with expectations. We're seeing pressure largely isolated to the urban centers where we've seen the highest EV presentation and largely on the B-to-C side, so business to consumer," Hannasch added, noting that Couche-Tard's business in Europe is split almost equally between consumer and business-to-business (B-to-B).
"We're not seeing the B-to-B impacted at all, and [we're] not seeing rural impacted. So again, it's largely in line with what we've expected to see," he said. "We're also focused, in the context of this trend, on adding a significant number of chargers — both high speed and normal 50 kilowatt — to the network this coming year. So, very engaged and learning a lot, we think."
As of Oct. 14, Laval-based Couche-Tard's network comprised 9,943 convenience stores throughout North America, including 8,660 stores with road transportation fuel dispensing. Its North American network consists of 19 business units, including 15 in the United States covering 48 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces.
In addition, through CrossAmerica Partners LP, Couche-Tard supplies road transportation fuel under various brands to approximately 1,300 locations in the U.S.
In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia through 10 business units. As of Oct. 14, Couche-Tard's European network comprised 2,718 stores.
In addition, under licensing agreements, more than 2,000 stores are operated under the Circle K banner in 14 other countries and territories, which brings the worldwide total network to approximately 16,000 stores.