Cracker Barrel Exiting Business With Sale to Couche-Tard

BATON ROUGE, La. — Cracker Barrel is leaving the convenience store scene with the sale of its 53 sites to Circle K Stores Inc., a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

The sites were held by American General Investments LLC and North American Financial Group LLC and are located primarily in the Baton Rouge market. 

These convenience stores operate under the store brand Cracker Barrel and include 12 quick-service restaurants. All but one of the sites offer branded motor fuels under the Shell, Chevron or Cracker Barrel brand names.

All parties expect the transaction to close in the fourth quarter, subject to the standard regulatory approvals and closing conditions. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Cracker Barrel was founded in 1968 with the establishment of a single convenience store in Baton Rouge. Over the next nearly 50 years, the company grew to 53 stores primarily serving the Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La. markets.

"The transaction with Circle K Stores Inc. represents a significant milestone in the company's 48-year history," said Chris Sadler, owner of Cracker Barrel Convenience Stores. "We made the difficult decision to exit the retail gasoline business but are looking forward to exploring new business opportunities for the family. 

He added: "We have a significant amount of respect for Circle K and have confidence that they will be a responsible steward of Cracker Barrel's legacy in the community and continue to treat our customers and employees with the highest levels of respect."

Of the 53 sites, Couche-Tard would own the land and building for 47 locations and would assume or enter into leases for the remaining 6 locations. Following this acquisition, all of the stores would be rebranded and operated under the Circle K brand by Couche-Tard's U.S. Division of the Gulf Coast Region.

"Subsequent to this transaction, Couche-Tard's network in the Circle K Division of the Gulf Coast Region would include a total of 638 company operated-stores, eight company-owned and dealer-operated, and 54 dealer-owned and -operated. These stores occupy strategic locations within their respective trade areas," said Brian Bednarz, vice president of operations, Couche-Tard's U.S. Division of the Gulf Coast Region. "This acquisition would be a great addition to Couche-Tard's expansion and growth plans for the Gulf Division." 

Raymond James served as exclusive financial advisor to Cracker Barrel in connection with the transaction.

This deal comes on the heels of Couche-Tard's agreement to acquire San Antonio-based CST Brands Inc. for roughly $4.4 billion. That transaction includes 1,146 CST Brands c-stores, primarily operating under the Corner Store, Nice N Easy and Flash Foods brand names. Once complete, Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard will become the largest U.S. independent c-store operator in store count, as CSNews Online previously reported.

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