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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.


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Couche-Tard balances acquisitions with organic growth

Circle K Location_Sm_061219Over the past several years, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has been busy building up its global convenience store network through acquisitions. This fiscal year, however, organic growth is also a focus for the company.

During the second quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, the Laval-based parent company of Circle K completed the construction of 20 stores and the relocation or reconstruction of seven stores, reaching a total of 48 stores constructed since the beginning of fiscal 2020. As of Oct. 13, another 49 stores were under construction and are expected to welcome customers in the upcoming quarters.

While pursuing organic growth, Couche-Tard also remains focused on acquisition opportunities — big and small. During its latest quarter, the company acquired one company-operated store, reaching a total of nine stores acquired since the beginning of fiscal 2020.

After the close of the second quarter, the company reached a deal to acquire 17 c-stores from a franchise operator. The stores operate under the Holiday banner in South Dakota and Minnesota. This transaction is on track to close in the third quarter of fiscal 2020.

GLOBAL REBRANDING

Along with network expansion, rebranding continues to be a priority for Couche-Tard. This fall marked the four-year anniversary of the retailer’s initiative to bring the new Circle K brand to its global network. The project kicked off in September 2015.

“As we enter our fourth year of the Circle K rebrand project, I couldn’t be prouder of the work that we’ve done across the network,” President and CEO Brian Hannasch said during the company’s second-quarter fiscal 2020 earnings call on Nov. 28. “Store conversions in Europe have now been fully completed, and we’re more than 80 percent complete in North America with the sites displaying the new Circle K brand.”

Many of its North American business units have hit the 90% rebranding mark, including the Heartland, Texas and West Coast business units in the United States. In Canada, more than 600 stores have been rebranded in Central Canada and 250 stores now sport the global Circle K brand in Western Canada.

“As I previously said, operating under one global brand brings a number of advantages, from increased brand awareness with customers, employee pride and then again, leveraging our scale across procurement, private label and national marketing campaigns,” Hannasch explained.

As of Oct. 13, Couche-Tard’s network comprised 9,815 convenience stores throughout North America. Its North American network consists of 19 business units, including 15 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. Its European network comprised 2,708 stores. In addition, under licensing agreements, approximately 2,280 stores are operated under the Circle K banner in 16 other countries and territories, which brings the worldwide total network to more than 14,800 stores.

The total excludes CrossAmerica Partners LP’s network, which Couche-Tard recently sold to investment entities controlled by Joe Topper, the founder of Allentown-based CrossAmerica, in the third quarter.

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


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Canada’s Circle K ranks among largest franchisors in the U.S.

Three convenience chains, including Quebec-based retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard’s Circle K brand, are among the 200 largest U.S.-based franchisors.

The Franchise Times Top 200+ placed 7-Eleven Inc., Circle K and ampm in the exclusive ranking of the 500 largest franchises.

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven landed at No. 2, Circle K landed at No. 14; and La Palma, Calif.-based ampm, a division of BP, took the No. 83 spot.

As the report noted, 7-Eleven reached $86 billion in sales. The retailer has 8,951 U.S. locations (7,213 U.S. franchised units) and ranked No. 2 last year.

Circle K rang up $10.2 billion in sales. It has 5,908 U.S. locations (562 U.S. franchised units) and ranked No. 18 last year. For its part, ampm hit $1.38 billion in sales. It has 1,015 U.S. locations (962 U.S. franchised units) and moved up from No. 85 last year.

Circle K also took the No. 3 spot on the Franchise Times Top 10 Fastest Growers by Sales (26%) and the No. 8 spot on the Franchise Times Top 10 Fastest Growers by Units (13.7%).

According to the report, the 200 largest U.S.-based franchisors grew their combined annual sales by more than $26.9 billion, or 4.2% last year, to $671.3 billion, with most categories seeing across-the-board gains well above the previous year.

 

Originally published at Convenience Store News


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Circle K expands deliver in the U.S.

Circle K’s boosted its on-demand delivery pact with Favor to reach nearly 600 convenience stores in Texas.

This announcement comes on the heels of Circle K’s initial delivery service rollout with Favor in July 2019, which included more than 160 Circle K locations across the Greater Houston area.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Favor in all remaining Circle K Texas markets across the state and to see our Circle K stores add this service beyond the soft rollout in the Houston area,” Paul Rodriguez, vice president of Circle K Texas, said in a release. “An important goal for Circle K is to continue to find ways for our customers to have an easier and more convenient shopping experience. Home delivery is one more option we can now add to Circle K customers’ shopping choices.”

“We are thrilled to continue expanding Favor’s partnerships across the state to offer Texans the most convenient service on the widest selection possible, whether it is dinner from a local restaurant or now, their favorite beer, snacks and more from Circle K,” said Keith Duncan, chief revenue officer of Favor.

Customers can get beer and other items from Circle K delivered by searching for “Circle K 21+” in the Favor App or online at favordelivery.com.

Circle K is a wholly owned-subsidiary of Canada-based Alimentation Couche-Tard. Couche-Tard’s network comprises 9,792 convenience stores throughout North America. The company operates a network of close to 2,200 stores in Canada, from the Maritimes to Western Canada.


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Couche-Tard’s new initiatives designed to meet rising customer expectations

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 11.04.38 AMAs Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has built up its Circle K footprint through a series of global acquisitions, the company has begun rolling out several in-store initiatives to meet its customers’ rising expectations.

Chief among those have been foodservice-related programs, such as the company’s coffee platform and hot dog offer — both of which have spelled success for the Laval-based parent company of Circle K. Additionally, in the past few quarters, Couche-Tard began upping the ante with new digital and loyalty solutions, including its Lift upselling program and recently launched Easy Pay rewards program.

“I’m pleased with the work leveraging our loyalty programs, like Lift and Easy Pay, and unique promotional activity and gamification across the network — all part of our global efforts to drive more traffic to our stores and make our customers’ lives just a little bit easier every day,” Couche-Tard president and CEO Brian Hannasch said during an earnings call last week for the company’s first-quarter fiscal year 2020.

Circle K’s Easy Pay program rolled out to all of its U.S. network, with the exception of Holiday Stationstores, during the latest quarter. The retailer expects to complete the rollout at the Holiday locations in the fourth quarter.

Hannasch reported that the company is pleased with the pilot tests of the program, but it is too early to assess the national rollout. The retailer will be testing a variety of discount levels, as well as store-level incentives, to understand how to maximize traffic and penetration, he explained.

As for Lift, the in-store upsell tool, it was in almost 5,750 of the company’s U.S. convenience stores by the end of the quarter, and is beginning to hit sites in Canada.

“We think with both of these, we are just beginning to scratch the service,” Hannasch said. “With regards to Lift, we are pleased with the early results and we are seeing a very good conversion rate — averaging over 8 percent of customer transactions incorporating some sort of Lift promotion.”

To extend its reach, the retailer is piloting home delivery in Texas with service from more than 160 stores in the Houston area. Customers can order a variety of items, including snacks, beverages and age-restricted items, and receive them in less than an hour.

“We are monitoring this closely to measure customer acceptance and how it can play out in other markets,” Hannasch said, adding that the company will pilot the service in different geographies with different partners in the coming quarters.

IN-STORE INITIATIVES

Inside the store, Couche-Tard continues to grow its offerings.

On the foodservice side, the retailer’s coffee-program expansion continues, with more than 9,000 coffee machines installed in almost 4,000 locations in the United States this year.

“We continue to see strong sales and margin results, and customer feedback has been extremely positive,” Hannasch said, noting that full installation is on track to be completed by the end of calendar year 2019. “It’s a great example of when we test, we find something that works and scale it rapidly.”

Packaged beverages remain an especially strong category, with energy drinks, water and ready-to-drink-coffee contributing notably to same-store sales growth.

Couche-Tard is also seeing emerging growth in the alcohol space with alternative products such as hard seltzers, reflecting changes in consumer behavior.

“We are committed to staying ahead of the curve,” the chief executive explained.

In its North American food program, the retailer launched a $1 hot dog promo that has delivered double-digit sales increases. Premium hot dogs are driving unit growth as Circle K converts more customers to its food program, according to Hannasch.

“Our Top Dog signature hot dog program is now in nearly 570 stores and we are preparing for a launch across all U.S. business units in the coming months,” he shared.

Moving to the backbar, Couche-Tard is seeing strength in alternative tobacco segments in the U.S. and Canada, and in markets in Europe where the company is allowed to launch such items.

“We also remain committed to traditional tobacco products, and this quarter we continue our significant expansion of backbars to more locations to not only display tobacco cigarettes, but make room for the tremendous amount of innovation we are seeing in the category,” Hannasch explained.

LEARNINGS FROM EUROPE

The customer experience both inside and outside the c-store is a priority for Couche-Tard and its Circle K network on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

“In Europe, we now have about 135 newly redesigned Circle K stores across eight different countries,” the CEO said. “[The work] is a complete redo of the site with attractive designs and food offerings that engage our customers.”

Feedback thus far has been very strong, according to Hannasch.

Couche-Tard also has found success with direct mailers and gamification engagement tactics in driving traffic in Europe. The company recently launched these efforts in Canada and plans to bring them to the U.S. later in the year.

“We have more tools than ever in the toolbox,” Hannasch said.

As of July 21, Couche-Tard’s network comprised 9,792 convenience stores throughout North America. Its North American network consists of 19 business units, including 15 in the U.S. covering 48 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces. In addition, through CrossAmerica Partners LP, Couche-Tard supplies road transportation fuel under various brands to more than 1,300 locations in the United States.

In Europe, Couche-Tard operates 10 business units across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia. As of July 21, Couche-Tard’s European network comprised 2,706 stores. In addition, under licensing agreements, approximately 2,250 stores are operated under the Circle K banner in 16 other countries and territories.

Originally published at Convenience Store News.


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Couche-Tard celebrates global Circle K rebranding accomplishments

Circle K Logo Sm_121317In September 2015, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. embarked on a journey to unite its vast convenience store network under one umbrella: a new global Circle K brand.

The move followed several acquisitions Couche-Tard made in Europe, including the retail assets of Statoil Fuel & Retail ASA in Norway, Topaz in Ireland and Shell in Denmark; as well as its purchase of The Pantry Inc., parent company of Kangaroo Express, in the southeast United States.

Now, three years in, the Laval-based retailer has reached a significant milestone in the journey, Couche-Tard President and CEO Brian Hannasch announced during the company’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 earnings call in July.

According to the chief executive, Couche-Tard “has made tremendous progress” this year expanding the global Circle K brand to more than 5,600 stores in North America and more than 2,000 stores in Europe.

“The most exciting benchmark this quarter was the finalization of the rebranding project in Europe, as Ireland is now complete,” Hannasch said, adding that “the march west” in the U.S. is proceeding at a rapid pace.

Approximately 98% of the company’s sites in its U.S. Rocky Mountain Business Unit and 550 stores — roughly 80% — in the Texas Business Unit are now sporting the new global Circle K brand.

Couche-Tard expects to finish the rebranding efforts in Texas, which are mostly CST sites, in fiscal 2020. In addition, the Grand Canyon Business Unit — previously the company’s Arizona Business Unit — is more than halfway completed.

“This ambitious rebranding strategy, which began about three and half years ago, continues to be a real win for our business,” Hannasch said. “With our key partners, we are now able to leverage national promotional campaigns and gain penetration in our private label products.

“For our customers, the aided and non-aided awareness across the globe has been outstanding,” he continued. “For our team members, there is now a foundation for our shared employee culture and pride in Circle K — which is probably the best payoff of all in this journey.”

CIRCLE K FUEL BRAND

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, Couche-Tard also continued to grow its Circle K fuel brand. In Europe, the retailer is almost finished converting its Statoil, Topaz and Shell locations to the Circle K fuel brand. In the U.S., 900 sites were offering the brand by the end of the fiscal year.

“This unification of the Circle K brand inside our stores and at our fuel islands is contributing topline growth, and our easy pay ACH program — which gives customers a discount on fuel — is growing in penetration every day,” Hannasch noted.

As of April 28, Couche-Tard’s network comprised 9,866 convenience stores throughout North America, including 8,629 stores with fuel. Its North American network consists of 19 business units, including 15 in the United States covering 48 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces. In addition, through CrossAmerica Partners LP, Couche-Tard supplies road transportation fuel under various brands to approximately 1,300 locations in the U.S.

In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia through 10 business units. As of April 28, Couche-Tard’s European network comprised 2,709 stores.

In addition, under licensing agreements, more than 2,150 stores are operated under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories, which brings the worldwide total network to more than 16,000 stores.

 

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


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Circle K partners with delivery service in Houston

Circle K Logo Sm_121317Circle K is joining the list of convenience store chains that offer delivery.

The convenience store retailer has partnered with Texas-based Favor to add the service to more than 160 stores in the Houston metropolitan area.

Customers can order a wide variety of products, including snacks, beverages, beer and receive them in less than an hour. There is no minimum order.

“We are excited to partner with Favor and to see our Circle K stores in the metro Houston area venture into home delivery,” said Paul Rodriguez, vice president of Circle K Texas.

To order beer and other items, customers can search for “Circle K 21+” in the Favor mobile app or at favordelivery.com. Circle K 21+ delivery is available 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday; and 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

New Favor users will receive free delivery for the first 30 days, after which time there is a $3 delivery fee.

The retailer plans to expand delivery across the state to 550-plus Circle K stores later this year. Circle K is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.


Circle K Mexico apologizes for sexist ad

Circle K Mexico is apologizing for an ad on “Secretary Day” promoting a deal on chocolate, red wine and condoms.

The convenience store brand said in statement that it did not intend to “promote any stereotype” and highlighted its “promise to be a business that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender.”

The since-deleted ad was published July 15 on Circle K Mexico’s Twitter account. It depicts a cartoon image of a secretary’s legs next to the phrase “If you know what I mean” in English and a wink emoji. One combo deal included wine, condoms and a Milky Way for 199 Mexican pesos (about $10).

Mexican Sen. Patricia Mercado tweeted that it was a “sexist ad.”

Holidays that celebrate various professions are common in Latin America, particularly Mexico