Irving Oil, Little Sue Rebrand

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Irving Oil, Little Sue Rebrand

BANGOR, Maine -- Customers frequenting Irving Oil's Blue Canoe, Mainway and Big Stop convenience stores were in for surprise yesterday when the brand was officially changed to Circle K overnight.

It was no small task as 124 stores located across Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont required transformation. The remaining 128 stores are located in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and Labrador, however, rebranding has not be completed.

Leading up to the overnight overhaul, Irving Oil spokesperson Lars Trodson told the Bangor Daily News gas pumps were wrapped in the yellow tape as if to indicate a crime scene. "At least it got people's attention," he said.

While Trodson told the paper that 97 percent of the companies approximate 2,000 employees kept their jobs, the transition will take some getting used to. "Good afternoon, Main Street Circle K," an employee told a Bangor News Paper reporter Wednesday morning with slight hesitation. Lars said Irving would not release information about the 3 percent of employees that would not continue on.

Irving Oil has signed a 20-year agreement with Circle K owner Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. to sell Irving Oil gasoline. "People really should know, both the Cruise-in-to-win and the override gas programs are still on," Trodson told the paper.

The Laval, Quebec-based company now owns approximately 6,000-stores making it the second to 7-Eleven as the largest c-store in the nation.

Financial details were not disclosed and Trodson said Irving Oil is unsure whether Couche-Tard would rebrand the Canadian stores as Circle K or Couche-Tard.

In other rebranding news, seven Little Sue Marts in Gloucester and Middle Peninsula, Va., are putting the finishing touches on their new brand -- 7-Eleven -- as the Dallas-based c-store giant purchased the seven locations from Neighborhood Convenience Inc. in January, the Daily Press reported.

The rebranding has been taking place since April, according to the report. All seven of the locations will be available for franchise.

Two of the locations, in Ordinary and Deltaville, Va., will have grand opening celebrations today, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. As part of the festivities, the stores will have entertainment, food, drinks and discounts, including free Utz potato chips and Hostess Twinkees to the first 1,000 customers, the report stated.

The Little Sue chain was founded in 1972 and was acquired by John Steele in 1996. In summer 2007, Steele contacted Matrix Capital Markets Group to sell the stores, CSNews Online reported in January.

"The strength of the Little Sue brand, the chain's customer loyalty, and its exceptional management and store personnel made the business a very attractive opportunity for a buyer, and were all key factors in the amount of competition that resulted for the assets," Cedric Fortemps, vice president of Matrix, who co-managed the transaction, said at the time of the sale.