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Circle K leads the charge for EV in tongue-and-cheek new ad

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and its global brand, Circle K put a fun spin on its support of elective vehicles by announcing: “Yes, Will Ferrell – Circle K loves Norway and we’re ready!”

Leading up to Superbowl Sunday on February 7, 2021, General Motors launched an electrical vehicle (EV) campaign where comedian Will Ferrell attacks Norway for being ahead when it comes to EVs. Circle K responded with its own campaign “We’re ready” with Norsemen-actress Silje Torp Færavaag and its own employees play leading roles.

The ad highlights that Circle K is ready for the future today with EV charging solutions. In fact, the company is number one for EV charging offers in Norway, which is also home to its premier global electric vehicle laboratory.

This year, Circle K plans to bring that know-how to North America.

“We are very pleased to have started our journey in Norway, where Circle K is the number one destination for EV customers. We are meeting those customers at our stores and in their homes and offices, creating a total solution for their charging needs,” Brian Hannasch, president and CEO, said in a statement. “With our great team, growing expertise, and progressive locations in Norway, we have learned so much in the last few years,  and we are excited to bring that knowledge and solutions to our global network, including North America, over the coming months and years.”

Currently, Circle K operates a high-speed charging network with more than 500 chargers on its forecourts in Norway. The chargers are a combination of company-owned and partner charging offers with Tesla and Ionity. Some of its busiest highway stations are equipped with 20 to 40 high-speed chargers.

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In downtown Oslo, Circle K says it was the first to begin replacing fuel pumps with high-speed chargers.

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Circle K has also expanded its offer with more than 4,200 home and workplace charge points.

“At our EV lab in Norway, our dedicated teams have gained years of experience in the most mature market for electric vehicles. We always want to offer our customers the best possible experience, and Norway provides us the perfect testing conditions for first generation EV technology including chargers, vehicles, and payment methods,” said Hans-Olav Høidahl, EVP operations Europe.  “I’m proud that Norwegians see Circle K as the leading destination for EV charging, and I look forward to expanding our network of high-speed chargers and home charging solutions outside Norway over the coming months and years.”

In the coming months, the company will start to roll-out electric vehicle charging solutions at North America locations, beginning in its Quebec and California markets, with a combination of Circle K branded chargers and partner charging solutions.

 

 


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Pivot and profit

3 trends poised to shape convenience in 2021

In a world where consumers’ constantly changing product preferences, sky-high expectations and buying behaviours rule, trends often push c-stores to pivot, innovate and aim higher. During the pandemic, consumer shopping habits are even more in flux. However, some tried-and-true ideas are likely to boost c-store profitability. Here are three key trends shaping the convenience landscape and how they can work for you.

Subscription boxes: Driving loyalty and revenue

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 11.24.28 AMMove over, Netflix and Amazon Prime. C-stores are also offering subscription services, which help them stand out from the competition while building loyalty and profit. 

“Subscriptions are emerging as part of everyone’s life, whether that’s through media, shopping sites or regular deliveries of razor blades, meal kits and socks,” says Chuck Tanowitz, director of marketing communications at Paytronix, a Newton, Massachusetts-based loyalty program provider specializing in customer loyalty, acquisition and retention for multi-unit restaurants, retail stores and c-store chains.

In November, the company launched Paytronix Subscriptions, a new technology solution that enables brands to initiate and manage a data-driven subscription program designed to drive repeat visits.

“These are the ultimate in convenience, which clearly tracks with convenience stores,” adds Tanowitz. “There’s a great opportunity for c-stores to use subscriptions as a way to keep customers loyal and returning again and again.”

Tanowitz reports that many Paytronix customers plan to launch coffee subscriptions, while other convenience store brands have created subscriptions around their food offerings, free delivery or fuel discounts.  

“Those that use subscriptions have found an increase in attachment: Someone coming in to fill a coffee subscription will often make an additional purchase along the way,” he says. 

In the U.S., restaurant brands like Panera and Pret are successfully offering coffee subscriptions, while RaceTrac has a fuel subscription program, notes Tanowitz. DoorDash and Uber Eats have subscription programs that charge a flat fee for unlimited delivery, while goPuff’s subscription is a paid membership service with unlimited delivery.  

“We’ve found that the average annual spend on subscriptions is $640 per year, and 34% of Americans feel that number will increase over the next two years,” reports Tanowitz. 

“This is another powerful arrow in the quiver of the convenience store marketer. Not only does it work alongside the loyalty program as a way to keep customers coming back, but it also enables the marketer to collect valuable information about their customers and their purchasing habits.” 

That information can then be used to create targeted programs that can continue to drive additional value.

“Today’s customers are starting to demand subscriptions because it’s how they’re used to consuming goods,” explains Tanowitz. 

“The key question for convenience retailers involves understanding true brand promise and how to fulfill that to customers.”  

 

 

Private label: Not just for grocers anymore

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 11.24.36 AMAs consumer demand shifts away from ‘generic’ brands to private label, c-stores are developing innovative private label strategies to better position themselves in the competitive retail landscape. The Private Label Manufacturers Association estimates that private label brands represent close to $180 billion in U.S. retail sales, and it’s a market that’s rapidly expanding, says Tony Chapman, a marketing and brand consultant in Toronto.  

“Everyone is chasing it,” says Chapman. “Where convenience can get into private label is with things like dairy, or savoury and sweet treats—the best milk, sausage rolls and cakes—areas where there is less brand loyalty.”

In Canada, Parkland, 7-Eleven and Couche-Tard all have private label offerings. Controlling the cost and quality of private label is key to help retailers meet increased consumer demand for store brand products, says Rodney Blanton, global VP of private brand for Couche-Tard.

“Customers are looking for exclusivity and value, which accelerated the development of the private brand space in the last decades to offer not only a value alternative, but products that will delight and engage,” says Blanton.

Done correctly, private label can help c-stores maintain profit levels while offering consumers better retail pricing and value options, he adds. These products can’t be found anywhere else, creating loyalty and luring customers back for the flavours and items they like at attractive prices.

C-stores are improving the quality and packaging of their own brands to compete with established national products, notes Linda Capusa, Circle K’s global director of private brand execution.

“Understanding what matters to customers and staying up to date with packaging and design trends are imperative to making sure PB products are both noticeable and speak on the brand look and feel,” explains Capusa. 

“There’s more awareness now on the quality and reliability of PB, so brands are getting better at educating customers and driving engaging programs.”

Because customers seek quality at affordable price points, transparency about private label products can drive consumer engagement and trust, adds Capusa, especially since many are produced in the same factories as national brands. 

“It’s a continuous journey to tell that story and open the doors behind the scenes to customers, so they’re aware of where the product originates from,” she says.

 

 

Buying local: Consumers driving the need for transparency and choice

 

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 11.24.56 AMThe COVID-19 crisis seems to have altered consumer behaviour in Canada, according to a recent Leger study, which revealed that people are seeking out local businesses and products for the first time. The research also showed that 74% of Canadians say they often purchase products or services originating in Canada, and 56% plan to buy Canadian goods and services more often in the future. C-stores are capitalizing on this trend, with organizations such as Ontario Made encouraging stores to stock locally-made products.

“Canadians are driven to buy local for economic reasons—in particular, to support the local economy and local jobs,” says Dennis Darby, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). “Although Canadians have always been interested in supporting their neighbours and buying local, a rise in protectionism worldwide, as well as COVID-19, have accelerated the need and awareness for this. Our manufacturing members have been calling for several years for governments to promote local purchasing, both from consumers and in public procurement policies.”

Launching the Ontario Made program will allow Ontario manufacturers to increase their local market sales, meet consumers’ needs by making it easier to identify and buy Ontario-made products, and helping grow the economy, adds Darby.

“In Ontario, polling suggests that nearly 75% of Ontarians are looking to purchase Canadian-made products over imported ones and 56% said they would try more often to purchase domestic goods,” he says.

Retailers have a vital role to play in the effort to support Canadians buying local, notes Darby. 

“We’re encouraging retailers and convenience stores to use the Ontario Made logo in-store and on marketing materials, and when possible create in-store set-aside areas for Ontario-made products,” he explains, adding that the Ontario Convenience Store Association has championed the program, encouraging stores to increase consumer awareness of locally made products. 

“Little Short Stop is an example of a convenience store chain that has always embraced buying local and has received positive feedback from consumers that they’re able to find locally produced goods at their stores,” says Darby.

Buying local is very on-trend, notes Chapman, but can be challenging for c-stores. 

“It’s tough for convenience to do in terms of managing perishables and inventory,” he says. “I think convenience would be better served by supporting local entrepreneurs and local packaged goods that are less perishable and that they can differentiate themselves with.”
Originally published in the January/February issue of Convenience Store News Canada.


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Insights from the Star Women Leadership Panel

The Star Women Leadership Panel set the tone at the 2020 Star Women in Convenience Awards on November 4, 2020. They spoke candidly with CSNC editor, Michelle Warren, sharing their experiences in a changing industry, strategies for building strong teams and the importance of mentorship for career and business growth.

Plus, the women talk about the projects their most proud of and share insights into what helps keep them motivated during the pandemic.

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The panel features:

Hélène Drolet: Vice-president, operations, Western Canada Division, Circle K

Leslie Gordon: Category portfolio manager convenience retail, Suncor Energy/Petro-Canada

Robbie Mulder: District manager, Little Short Stop Stores

Olga Pigeon: Director of marketing and strategy, BG Fuels

Laurie Smith: Marketing and communications lead, Canada, 7-Eleven Canada Inc.


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Circle K owner Alimentation Couche-Tard grows profits to US$757 million

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.’s profits increased from last year in the three months ending Oct. 11, as shoppers consolidated shopping trips to convenience stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Circle K parent company says it earned US$757 million, or 68 cents U.S. per diluted share, compared with US$578.6 million, or 51 cents U.S. per diluted share, in the same period last year.

The Laval, Que.-based brand says revenues were US$10.66 billion during the quarter, down from US$13.68 billion during the same quarter last year.

Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected net income of US$559 million, or 50 cents U.S. per share, on sales of US$11.17 billion.

The company says its same-store merchandise sales grew 4.4 per cent in the U.S., 8.6%  in Europe and 11.4% in Canada.

Couche-Tard’s quarterly report says traffic was soft during the quarter as many people worked from home, but it sold more fuel this summer than in the spring in Europe, thanks to sunny weather.


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Couche-Tard enters Asia with Hong Kong acquisition

UnknownAlimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire all the issued and outstanding shares, on a fully diluted basis, of Convenience Retail Asia (BVI) Limited (Circle K HK) for HK$2.79 billion, or approximately $360 million.

Circle K HK operates a network of Circle K-licensed convenience stores, with 340 company-operated sites in Hong Kong and 33 franchised sites in Macau.

In a statement, the Canadian store giant said: “This transaction represents a significant milestone for Couche–Tard as it provides the Company with a platform in Asia from which to launch its regional growth ambitions.”

Circle K HK has the second largest market share in Hong Kong, one of the most economically developed markets in Asia and most densely populated regions in the world. For Couche-Tard, this represents “meaningful room to grow organically.”

In addition, Circle K HK has a strong loyalty program, with approximately 1.6 million “OK Stamp It” members, as well as an established private label program. In addition Circle K has advanced merchandising, technology and supply chain capabilities.

Couche-Tard says it “expects to benefit from Circle K HK’s experienced management team to gain access to further opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, while also leveraging the team’s insight and knowledge of the high-density urban retail format.”

“I have followed Circle K Hong Kong’s progress closely for decades and deeply admire its leadership team and retail expertise,” said Alain Bouchard, founder and executive chairman of Couche-Tard’s Board of Directors. “I look forward to welcoming their team members and stores into the Couche-Tard family and have no doubt that together we can reach millions more customers in Hong Kongand across Asia as we move forward in our journey to become the world’s preferred destination for convenience and fuel.”

Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, added: “Circle K Hong Kong is one of the best convenience store operators in Asia and will be an excellent fit within our company. We are excited to partner further with their highly advanced team in terms of innovation, loyalty, private label, retail execution and ability to grow market share. Upon closing of this transaction, Couche–Tard will reach a milestone in its strategic ambition of entering the high growth Asia–Pacific market with a first-rate management and operations team, which has the credibility, experience and capabilities to support future expansion in the region.”

Victor Fung, chairman of CRA, called it a win-win for both companies: “Our investors will gain from a good return on their investment and Couche-Tard will benefit from a first-class organization of dedicated and loyal team members who have contributed to the success of Circle K in Hong Kong.”

 

Under the terms of the agreement, Couche-Tard will acquire Circle K HK on a cash-free and debt–free basis. The final purchase price will be subject to working capital and other balance sheet adjustments. The transaction is expected to close by December 31, 2020 and will be subject to usual closing conditions.


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Couche-Tard to expand EV charging capacity in North America

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Following on its successful initiative with EV (electric vehicle) charging facilities in Europe, Montreal-based Alimentation Couche-Tard has announced it plans to offer charging sites at west coast U.S. and Canada locations of Circle K stores, as well as Couche-Tard properties in Quebec. The company announced it will also look at offering home-based EV charging facilities in U.S. and Canadian markets in a move to expand its revenue stream as carbon-based fuels decline in popularity.

Our goal will be to follow the path were on in Norway,Alimentation Couche-Tard CEO Brian Hannaschin said during a call last week with media. He reports that, together with an electrification partner, they plan to power up hundreds of sites as they move forward. This follows the company’s initiatives in Norway where Couche-Tard started selling home charging units (launched May 2019 and delivered 1,400 units by Q1/21) and launched 450 EV charger installations at more than 80 Circle K sites in the Nordic country, which is well known for its use of electric vehicles.

Couche-Tard has been an early adopter of EV technology for convenience retail. Indeed, this year they revamped an Oslo c-store and fuel station to be 100% EV. They have 150 EV charging sites presently in operation across Europe (200 expected by end of 2020) and view this as a way to counter the drop in demand for gas and diesel that are key to their business success. Currently, 71% of revenue and 46% of profits come from fuel sales.

Couche Tard is among the world’s largest convenience retailers with 14,350 locations in 25 countries.


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Circle K launches frictionless checkout pilot with MasterCard

Unknown-1Alimentation Couche-Tard’s Circle K is teaming up with Mastercard to pilot a rollout of timely frictionless checkout solutions designed for convenience stores and other retailers.

While frictionless retail experiences have been gaining momentum in recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail section and its customers are speeding up the adaptation of technology solutions to reduce touchpoints and time spent in stores.

In October. Circle K’s Shop Anywhere pilot will launch at-the-pump and in-store frictionless experiences for its consumers, enabling them to efficiently grab-and-go snacks and drinks at select locations in Canada and the United States.

Through robust inventory and participating shopper analytics Mastercard’s platform is designed to improve and speed up the in-store experience by eliminating points of friction. In other words, no line ups, no waiting and the introduction of secure payments.

For instance, shoppers will be able to  grab-and-go at select Circle K locations and never have to engage in face-to-face interactions. In addition, consumers can receive personalized offers based on historical purchasing trends. On the foodservice side, these means shoppers can place an order without waiting in line for staff to take that order, enabling staff to focus on order fulfillment.

Shop Anywhere can also give shoppers access to stores outside of normal opening hours if selected by the retailer, in addition to unique and exclusive merchandise.(Dunkin’ and White Castle in the U.S. are also piloting the platform).

According to Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Shift to Digital report, in-person shopping remains a draw, though consumers are seeking offerings that bridge the physical and digital to streamline the overall experience. In August, Mastercard unveiled its new suite of frictionless solutions for retailers to reimagine their physical shopping experience.

“As retailers and consumers navigate through one of the most disruptive periods in modern history, it’s clear that traditional business operations will need to evolve quickly,” Stephane Wyper, senior vice president, retail innovation, Mastercard, said in a release. “We’re committed to supporting our retail partners as they look to meet the unforeseen challenges posed by this new normal and provide their customers with a more digitally enabled, touchless and secure retail experience.”

The Shop Anywhere platform is supported by AI and computer vision technology partner Accel Robotics.

“We are thrilled to partner with Mastercard to help retailers deliver a new world of convenience,” said Accel Robotics CEO Brandon Maseda. “Through the Shop Anywhere platform, we are helping shorten the distance between shoppers and satisfaction.”

Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, which has a network of 14,500 stores, including 9,414 stores in North America; 2,710 stores in Europe, including Scandinavia, Baltics, Poland, Russia and Ireland; and licensing agreements for approximately 2,350 stores operated under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories.


Fire & Flower / Circle K Co-Located Cannabis Stores - (c) 2020 Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (CNW Group/Fire & Flower Holdings Corp.)

Fire & Flower co-locates cannabis stores with Circle K

Fire & Flower / Circle K Co-Located Cannabis Stores - (c) 2020 Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (CNW Group/Fire & Flower Holdings Corp.)

Fire & Flower / Circle K co-located cannabis stores

Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. is opening two cannabis retail stores adjacent to Circle K locations in the province of Alberta.

In a release, Fire & Flower says it expects “to benefit from high traffic Circle K locations to deliver an unprecedented level of convenience to cannabis customers, maximizing the benefit of the Spark Perks program and Spark Fastlane online ordering services at conveniently located stores.”

In July 2019, Couche-Tard announced it would make a strategic investment in Fire & Flower, providing the Canadian cannabis retailer with additional capital to further accelerate its expansion strategy. Couche-Tard invested approximately $26 million in the form of unsecured convertible debentures to obtain a 9.9% ownership interest in Fire & Flower on a fully diluted basis.

READ: Couche-Tard closes cannabis retailer deal

“Through this strategic investment, we reinforce our intention to become a key player in North America’s cannabis industry,” Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, said at the time. “We are excited to see what we can achieve together with Fire & Flower, as we further expand in Canada and look to leverage our presence in the United States and beyond.”

At the time, Fire and Flower has 23 locations and today, with the new openings, it has 51 stores, mostly in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but also in Ontario and Yukon.

The two new stores in Calgary and Grande Prairie are the duo’s first co-located retail stores, but they are looking at “additional opportunities to co-locate cannabis retail st

Fire & Flower / Circle K Co-Located Cannabis Stores - (c) 2020 Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (CNW Group/Fire & Flower Holdings Corp.)

Fire & Flower / Circle K Co-Located Cannabis Stores – (c) 2020 Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. (CNW Group/Fire & Flower Holdings Corp.)

ores in the future.”

The co-located stores will be owned and operated by Fire & Flower and, in accordance with applicable regulations, are officially separate from the adjacent Circle K stores.

The Grande Prairie store is opening this week and the Calgary store is to open the week of July 13, 2020.

“As we continue to build our relationship with Alimentation Couche-Tard, Fire & Flower is very pleased to be embarking on this initiative together,” Trevor Fencott, CEO of Fire & Flower, said in a statement. “We believe that combining convenient pickup locations with digital engagement offered by the Hifyre platform and Spark Perks program presents our customers with a differentiated value proposition in an increasingly competitive cannabis retail market. This approach to innovation in omni-channel and convenience-oriented cannabis retail differentiates Fire & Flower and positions us well to capitalize on both domestic and international opportunities.”

 

Through its strategic investment with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Fire & Flower has set its sights on the global expansion as new cannabis markets emerge.


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Human trafficking: It’s hiding in plain sight and you can help

Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 3.18.23 PMWhen we hear the phrase ‘human trafficking’ most believe it is a distant problem in another country. That it will never touch us personally. And, that we will never observe this type of activity in the communities that we all live.

Human trafficking, which is not typically perceived to be a problem in Canada, has become an increasing concern across the country. If asked, the average Canadian would say they’re horrified that human trafficking exists – but are relieved that they live in a country where things like that don’t happen. The belief is that Canada is not the kind of place where men and women entrap young teenagers, then move them from city to city, buying and selling them as modern-day sex slaves. But Canada is exactly that kind of place. And, what we often fail to realize is that one of the most heinous crimes imaginable is happening right here in our backyard.

The reality is, human trafficking is a growing industry that has evolved to be a multi-billion dollar business making it the second most lucrative crime in the world, second only to drug trafficking. What’s more concerning is the most recent data from Statistics Canada tell us 93% of sex trafficking victims within Canada come from Canada. The average age at which exploitation begins is 13; the average age of rescue, if a girl is rescued at all, is 17.

These are young Canadian girls of all socio-economic backgrounds, from big and small cities, that are being recruited and forced into sex work.

Given the media reports and statistics, it is surprising there hasn’t been a massive public outcry yet. However, this is the kind of problem we’d prefer to pretend doesn’t exist, although that’s getting harder to do.

What is human trafficking

Public Safety Canada defines Human Trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person as a way to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour.

It is often described as the modern-day form of slavery.

Individuals and/or organized criminal networks carry out this type of crime, operating within Canada’s borders and around the world. These traffickers reap large profits while robbing victims of their freedom, dignity and human potential.

Simply put, this is a crime against humanity and action needs to be taken.

The gas and c-store industry’s role

Traffickers and their victims move around in plain sight just like the rest of us and just like anyone else, they visit gas-convenience stores daily.

When transporting victims from one place to another, the trafficker’s goal is to remain undetected, so they do not bring attention to themselves or their situation. As a result, these individuals will commonly end up visiting our truck-stops, travel centres, gas stations and convenience stores to fuel up on food, gasoline or use the restroom.

Canadian convenience stores, with our network of almost eight thousand locations – along with the nearly twelve thousand gas stations across the country, are a valuable partner in the fight against human trafficking.

As an industry, we serve more than half the Canadian population each day. This puts our employees in a unique position to disrupt this criminal enterprise and increase the likelihood that our employees can help victims of human trafficking through awareness campaigns and education. Undoubtedly, this will make it uncomfortable for the traffickers.

Here are 5 things you can do to help

  1. Implement a training program as a first step. To be effective, employees need to know three things: what they are looking for, what to do if they see something suspicious, and what to avoid doing.
  • Have a reporting mechanism for employees to use.
  • Partner with organizations, such as Crime Stoppers.
  • Promote awareness campaigns to amplify the message (ie. signage in bathrooms, SafePlace program).
  • Maintain a safe haven for community members who need help.

 

Circle K Stores – Central Canada takes action

 

Sean Sportun

Sean Sportun, Circle K

Recognizing the critical importance partnerships play in the prevention of crime and the accumulative positive impact such collaborative actions can have on protecting the vital interests of a community, Circle K Stores Loss Prevention team in Central Canada maintains a commitment to community safety with a focus on crime prevention.

Understanding their reach into the community, they have introduced a unique philosophy of Crime Prevention Through Community Engagement that continues to prove successful; which has also been the focus of two Harvard Business Reviews.

In 2017, Circle K Stores introduced an employee training component to educate staff on the signs of human trafficking and how to report it through their in-house security hotline.

Through their existing partnership with Toronto Crime Stoppers, Circle K Stores utilized their network of store locations across Ontario to amplify human trafficking awareness campaigns.

In 2017, Circle K Stores partnered with Peel Regional Police to become the first retailer to implement the SafePlace Programin all their Region of Peel locations. The initiative encourages valued members of the community who are victims of crime and who need police assistance to report incidents at businesses displaying the Safe Place decal. This program has since expanded to the City of Sault Ste Marie with that local police service.

Know the signs

Gas-convenience employees know their customers and know what is going on in their communities. Every day, these employees engage in conversations and observe their customers’ behaviour; and if educated on the signs of human trafficking they will not only be able to identify “strange” or “suspicious” things, but they will know how to report their findings.

Indicators that can point to sex trafficking include:

  • Young girls wearing excessive makeup or clothing inappropriate for their age.
  • Young girls in possession of expensive clothing, phones, and jewelry with no reasonable means to afford them.
  • Large age gap between male and female with no explanation for the relationship.
  • Young girls who are underweight and appear malnourished.
  • Girls whose companion does all the talking for them.
  • High-end vehicles operated by a young male and occupied by young females.

Community partnerships: Crime Stoppers

Toronto Crime Stoppers has taken an aggressive approach that brings awareness to this crime. Through powerful public service ad campaigns, they have created a presence in travel-related platforms and disrupted the experience to get people’s attention as a way to educate them to identify and report suspicious behaviour specific to human trafficking. In 2017, the not-for-profit organization launched their first campaign titled Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 3.09.15 PMHuman Trafficking Often Hides In Plain Sight.

The campaign’s creative discreetly places the scenes and signs of human trafficking within the patterns of hotel room fabrics, including the wallpaper, bedding and drapes.The initial campaign was quickly followed by a second campaign in 2018, titled Speak Out For Those Who Can’t. This campaign creative displayed arresting photos of young women gagged with airline baggage tags and drove users a website to learn the signs of human trafficking.

Both campaigns included out-of-home placements across the GTA including, transit shelter ads, elevator advertising, TTC digital screens, advertising across Circle K Stores network of locations, and carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram targeting people with travel interests.

These awareness campaigns are aimed to create discussion, educate the average citizen on the signs of Human Trafficking, let the traffickers know the community is taking action and lastly, to provide the community and/or victims with a conduit to relay anonymous information about this type of crime to the police by calling Crime Stoppers.

We need to come together if we are going to stop human trafficking. Community safety is a shared responsibility, working collaboratively as a community we will continue to make a difference in combating human trafficking.

See it. Say it. Stop it.

Sean Sportun is manager, security & loss prevention for Circle K Stores Central Canada Division.

The piece was originally published in the May/June issue of OCTANE.


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Teens set off flare in B.C. store in ‘reckless’ act, traumatize clerk: RCMP

Circle K Logo Sm_121317The RCMP are accusing two teenagers of creating mayhem in a convenience store in Nanaimo, B.C., after shoplifting and then setting off a flare indoors on their way out.

Mounties say in a news release the alleged incident occurred Saturday night and caused thousands of dollars in damage. Incident happened just after 9 p.m. Saturday at Circle K on Departure Bay Road.

They say a lone employee reported two young men picked up a few items and, before leaving without paying, one of them discharged a single-tube flare in the direction of the employee.

The fire ignited merchandise and caused extensive structural damage inside and outside the store, and firefighters put out the blaze.

The employee was forced outside and the discarded flare was found outside the business.

Investigators have identified both suspects, who are 16, by reviewing security footage but have not been able to locate them.

“This was a reckless and extremely dangerous act that has significantly impacted a local business, traumatized the clerk and could have resulted in significant personal injury to the employee,” Const. Gary O’Brien said.