LAVAL, Quebec — With two recent acquisition agreements on the table, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is moving its growth strategy forward.
"Despite the ongoing challenges, I am proud that we continue to meet our strategic goals to grow the network both organically and through M&A," President and CEO Brian Hannasch said during the company's first quarter fiscal year 2022 earnings call, held on Sept. 1.
In July, the parent company of Circle K inked a definitive agreement to acquire Wilsons Gas Stops and Go! stores in Canada. The purchase of this network of 226 corporate-owned and dealer locations and a fuel terminal will allow Couche-Tard to expand its presence in Atlantic Canada, Hannasch said.
The deal is expected to close in the first half of the 2022 calendar year.
In addition, Couche-Tard entered into an agreement to acquire 35 sites currently operated under the Porter's brand, predominantly in Oregon and Washington.
"These fuel and convenience assets are high-quality locations and have a track record of growth and a network of experienced employees," Hannasch explained.
This transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of September, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
According to Hannasch, Couche-Tard will continue to look for deals in the merger-and-acquisition arena that meet a specific set of criteria.
"We're going to continue to look for opportunities of various sizes that include quality stores and talent, with the infrastructure — the bones, if you will — to enable us to deliver our key programs to our customers," he said. "With these two recently announced transactions, we're acquiring strong fuel and convenience assets in the Pacific Northwest and Atlantic Canada, and both are great fits for us.
"As we experience the new normal, we are seeing elevated deal flow in all three of our platforms," Hannasch continued, adding that he is cautiously optimistic that the company will get some more deals done in the coming quarters.
"Our focus is on being disciplined in our approach. We have a clear set of criteria for the assets we're looking for, and we'll continue to strive to do the right things for our shareholders," he noted. "In terms of valuations, they have remained surprisingly elevated given a lot of businesses have been impaired. But, again, we're optimistic with the level of deal flow that we'll be able to participate."
At the same time, Couche-Tard is making additional moves to optimize its network, including updating older locations in the United States, and adding 30 new-build convenience stores that support its organic platforms and brand promise.
"Growing the size and scale of the network is essential to our strategic ambition. And as always, we remain disciplined in our approach to create value for our shareholders," Hannasch concluded.
Laval-based Couche-Tard operates in 26 countries and territories with 14,200 convenience stores, of which approximately 10,800 offer road transportation fuel. Operating under the Couche-Tard and Circle K banners, it is the largest independent c-store operator in terms of number of company-operated stores in the U.S.