LAVAL, Quebec — As the Circle K fuel brand continues to spread to more forecourts across North America, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is now entering a new phase of the project.
In the third quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, the parent company of Circle K rolled out the proprietary fuel brand to an additional 2,300 sites in North America. Now, Couche-Tard is moving to the awareness phase, according to President and CEO Brian Hannasch.
This means testing modified branding strategies around the fuel business aimed at elevating the Circle K brand awareness, "where we are positioned prominently on the canopy, either on its own or next to that of our fuel branded partners," Hannasch explained during a company earnings call on March 17.
Currently, 150 sites in four markets across the United States are participating in the testing, and the results have been generally positive to date, Hannasch reported.
In another mobility milestone, Couche-Tard recently completed the installation of more than 400 electric vehicle fast chargers in Norway.
"Based on internal surveys, Circle K is already the best-known charging destination in the Norwegian market among [electric vehicle] drivers," the chief executive said. "We also continue our deployment of IONITY in our other European markets, and have rolled out our first Circle K-branded chargers in Sweden and Ireland this quarter."
And in yet another milestone, the retailer's Easy Pay rewards program, which provides fuel discounts, is now in all markets except for the Northern Tier stores the company acquired.
"The program continues to show strong attachment by customers, delivering increased trip frequency and growing transaction sizes," Hannasch said.
Alimentation Couche-Tard is based in Laval. As of Feb. 2, its network comprised 9,799 c-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.