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Located on the McGill University campus, the new retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management opens in partnership with Alimentation Couche-Tard. (CNW Group/Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.)

McGill and Couche-Tard launch retail innovation lab

The new lab at McGill’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management will enable ground-breaking research and test innovations, including frictionless technologies

McGill University and Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. are partnering in the launch of a retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management—a live testing ground for frictionless technologies that address the retail sector’s challenges of the future, as well as present day efforts to help people shop safer and reduce touchpoints doing the the pandemic.

In a joint effort to “transform customer experience at a critical time for retailers,” the university and c-store giant are creating one of North America’s first live, open laboratory stores. Located on McGill University’s campus in downtown Montreal, the lab is currently open at reduced hours and for a limited number of customers in store until local public health authorities deem it safe to operate at full capacity.

Located on the McGill University campus, the new retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management opens in partnership with Alimentation Couche-Tard. (CNW Group/Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.)

Located on the McGill University campus, the new retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management opens in partnership with Alimentation Couche-Tard. (CNW Group/Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.)

“By combining artificial intelligence and retail management, this retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management will allow our researchers to develop new initiatives and technologies to improve the customer experience for the retail sector with the help of industry partners,” Professor Morty Yalovsky, Dean of McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management, said in a release. “We are excited to welcome one of Canada’s largest retailers, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., as the first industry partner of our lab to help shape the future of retail during this pivotal moment in history.”

“This new store on the McGill University campus is a unique demonstration of our commitment to find new ways to make our customers’ lives a little easier,” said Deborah Hall Lefevre, chief technology officer, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. “At Couche-Tard, we are always searching for innovative solutions that improve the experience for our customers in our stores. By having a live laboratory, we are confident that the research projects and technologies successfully tested at the lab may eventually be implemented in some of our 14,220 stores across our global network.”

Inside the lab, a Couche-Tard Connecté section uses frictionless technologies to allow autonomous and contactless checkout. Using an app, customers can unlock the door to walk into the Connecté section, pick up items and leave without standing in a checkout line to pay. The purchased items are recognized in real-time and payment is processed automatically in the app.

Inside the laboratory store, the Couche-Tard Connecté section enables a frictionless shopping experience (CNW Group/Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.)

Inside the laboratory store, the Couche-Tard Connecté section enables a frictionless shopping experience (CNW Group/Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.)

The company says “the frictionless store will allow Couche-Tard store team members to spend more time on service, speed up in-store visits, and make its customers’ lives a little easier every day.”

In addition, it meets the need of consumers to have less touchpoint and spend less time in stores during the pandemic.

The lab is led by two research directors at McGill: Professor Maxime Cohen of the Desautels Faculty of Management and Professor James Clark of the Faculty of Engineering. The lab is to be governed by a joint steering committee and, according to a release, “preliminary research themes will involve helping customers make healthier, more sustainable choices, and finding the right balance between personalization and privacy in the shopping experience.”

Researchers will balance state-of-the-art artificial intelligence methods with stringent data privacy and confidentiality protocols, to “improve demand forecasting and customer recommendations, as well as virtual reality to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.”

“We are proud to deploy this new store with McGill’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management, and in doing so, contribute to developing the next generation of entrepreneurs, offer a differentiated customer experience with the latest technologies, and provide an even more rewarding and safe work experience to our current and future employees,” said Sophie Provencher, VP Quebec West – operations, Alimentation Couche-Tard. “Through this partnership, we will build on the great customer service our store team members provide every day, by making their jobs a little easier and giving them more time and opportunity to delight our customers.”

“COVID-19 will continue to have a significant impact on retailers, especially with regards to the traditional in-person customer experience,” said Professor Saibal Ray, academic director of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. “As society progresses into our ‘new normal’ of physical distancing, it is increasingly important for researchers and students to study the evolving shopping experience of the future.”

The lab is funded by the Bensadoun Family Foundation and Bensadoun School of Retail Management Founders Circle, of which Alain Bouchard, founder and chairman of the Board of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., is a member.

 


Couche-Tard chairman fails to convince French minister about Carrefour deal

The founder of Alimentation Couche-Tard walked away empty-handed Friday after trying to convince France’s finance minister to drop his objection to it acquiring grocery giant Carrefour.

Alain Bouchard met with Bruno Le Maire in Paris. His offer of various commitments was not enough to change Le Maire’s opposition over food security issues, according to information obtained by The Canadian Press.

Earlier, the minister expressed concerns about the potential $25 billion transaction.

“My answer is extremely clear: we are not in favour of the deal. The no is polite but it’s a clear and final no,” he said in a television interview.

Quebec Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon had said that the convenience store giant would have to demonstrate that food security was not at stake.

“I cannot say that I am surprised (by the reaction of the French government),” he said in a conference call.

Fitzgibbon said there appears to have been an “agreement in principle” with senior management at Carrefour and some of its largest shareholders, but the matter turned “political.”

Le Maire’s comments prompted Carrefour shares to decrease further below the 20 euro offer. Couche-Tard’s shares recovered some of their recent losses, rising 4.7%, or $1.69, to $37.98 in Friday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Quebec-based convenience store retailer didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Analyst Irene Nattel of RBC Dominion Securities said France’s concerns are consistent with previous government posturing to the Pepsi/Danone deal in 2005 and rigorous conditions imposed on GE’s acquisition of Alstom’s power business.

Alimentation Couche-Tard’s interest in Carrefour caught industry analysts by surprise, who questioned the strategic fit between theconvenience store chain and Carrefour, France’s largest private-sector employer with more than 100,000 workers.

Founded more than 60 years ago, it operates nearly 13,000 hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores in 30 countries including France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and Taiwan. Its global workforce exceeds 320,000 employees.

“We see limited strategic fit for Couche-Tard in acquiring Carrefour due to minimal geographic and business overlap and we expect limited synergies,” wrote Mark Petrie of CIBC Capital Markets.

Despite the risks, he said the key part of the rationale would be to establish a platform for future consolidation.

“We believe Couche-Tard would likely use the Carrefour asset base to pursue further acquisitions with scale.”

Ultimately, Petrie said regulatory approval is uncertain even though he believes Couche-Tard would offer the French government assurances on food security and supply, as well as job protections.


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Couche-Tard shares plunge as analysts question $25B offer for grocery chain Carrefour

Carrefour_logo.jpegAlimentation Couche-Tard’s $25-billion potential play for French-based grocery chain Carrefour SA got a thumbs down from its own investors and skeptical analysts.

The Quebec-based company’s shares plunged 10.5%, or $4.35 at $36.96 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Analysts questioned the rationale for the non-binding takeover offer at a price of 20 euros per Carrefour share.

Peter Sklar of BMO Capital Markets said there’s “limited strategic rationale” for such an acquisition.

“We are skeptical that an acquisition of Carrefour by Couche-Tard or a combination of the two companies will come to fruition due to a number of considerations,” he wrote in a report.

A more compelling transaction, he said, would be to pursue Carrefour’s 7,700 global convenience stores.

Derek Dley of Canaccord Genuity called it a “questionable pivot.”

“We view the transaction as a bit of a headscratcher, as it would involve Couche-Tard partially departing from its core competencies of c-store and fuel retailing (which garner higher trading multiples) and instead venturing into the lower-multiple grocery business, which we believe would be viewed negatively by investors,” he wrote.

Dley added that the minimal geographic overlap and a challenging operating environment in France suggest that cost savings would be lower than Couche-Tard has realized in past transactions.

Still, the mostly cash transaction would be expected to add about 30% to his fiscal 2022 earnings estimate.

The acquisition would potentially be a good fit with Couche-Tard’s 2,700 stores in Europe, added Chris Li of Desjardins Capital Markets.

Carrefour’s convenience store account for about 10% of its US$9 billion in European revenues and US$500 million of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

Couche-Tard could sell the grocery business but Li questions whether it makes sense to go through the trouble just to keep such a small share of the business.

“Based on Couche-Tard’s track record of walking away from deals that were either expensive or did not make strategic sense, we are confident this remains the case,” he added.

The lack of details about a potential transaction make it difficult to assess whether its historic financial discipline will be maintained despite its demonstrated willingness to “take bold steps to grow the company,” said Irene Nattel of RBC Dominion Securities.

She noted that retail operations are increasingly blurring with companies extending into adjacent businesses.

For example, Asda was purchased last October from Walmart by the consortium behind EG Group.

Couche-Tard said the terms of the proposal are under discussion and remain subject to diligence, but the consideration is expected to be in cash in large majority.

It cautioned that there can be no certainty at this stage if the talks will result in a deal.

Founded more than 60 years ago, Carrefour operates nearly 13,000 hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Brazil, Argentina and Taiwan.

About 48% of US$87 billion of revenues are in France, 30% elsewhere in Europe, 20% in Latin America and two% in Asia.

Carrefour has a market capitalization of US$15 billion compared with US$36 billion for Couche-Tard and an enterprise value of US$33 billion versus US$41 billion for the Canadian retailer.

Couche-Tard operates convenience stores mostly under the Circle K brand in Canada, the United States and Europe. It recently took steps to expand into Asia.

 


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Couche-Tard makes $25B offer for French-based grocery chain Carrefour

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has made a non-binding takeover offer for French-based grocery chain Carrefour SA worth about $25 billion.

The company confirmed it recently submitted a non-binding offer letter for a friendly deal at a price of 20 euros per Carrefour share.

Couche-Tard says the terms of the proposal are under discussion and remain subject to diligence, but the consideration is expected to be in cash in large majority.

It cautioned that there can be no certainty at this stage if the talks will result in a deal.

Founded more than 60 years ago, Carrefour operates nearly 13,000 hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Brazil, Argentina and Taiwan. The company released a simple statement in response to recent reports.

 

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Couche-Tard operates convenience stores mostly under the Circle K brand in Canada, the United States and Europe. It recently took steps to expand into Asia.


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Couche-Tard completes Circle K Hong Kong acquisition

UnknownAlimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has closed its acquisition of Convenience Retail Asia (BVI) Limited (“Circle K HK”). The transaction, which was originally announced on November 4, 2020, was approved by the shareholders of Circle K HK’s parent company and all customary closing conditions have been completed.

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, Couche-Tard said the acquisition represents a significant milestone “as it provides the company with a platform in Asia from which to launch its regional growth ambitions.”

Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, said: “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 pleased to have completed this transaction rapidly and are excited to work with our new teams to advance our growth strategy in the region.”

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.


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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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Alimentation Couche-Tard subsidiary acquires U.S.-based Pride c-store chain

UnknownColumbus-based Mac’s Convenience Stores LLC, a subsidiary of Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., acquired Pride C-Stores Inc. Columbia City-based Pride C-Stores owned and operated seven convenience stores, according to Convenience Store News.

Pride C-Stores, which began as Parish Oil Co., acquired its first convenience store in 1977. In 1983, the company began a bulk fuels operation, serving local residential, agricultural and industrial customers.

It sold the bulk fuels business in 1988 as the company turned its attention to developing its c-store chain. All of the stores operate under the Pride brand and are within 25 miles of the Columbia City headquarters in and around the Fort Wayne metropolitan area.

The stores are located in Auburn, Churubusco, Columbia City, Fort Wayne, Kendallville, Merriam and Warsaw. The locations sell CITGO-branded fuel.

The average parcel size is approximately 1.2 acres, while the average building size is approximately 3,000 sq. ft. Two of the sites have car wash facilities, according to NRC Realty & Capital Advisors.

“We worked very hard to build a ‘best of class’ chain of convenience stores in northeastern Indiana and we have been proud to serve  our customers in these markets. We ultimately concluded for a number of reasons that it was the right time to sell,” said Richard “Rusty” Parish, president of Pride C-Stores.

“Although we faced some headwinds in getting this done, especially in the face of COVID-19, we were able to achieve our objectives, due in large part to the assistance we received  from our team of financial advisors at NRC Realty & Capital Advisors,” he added.

 

 


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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 turns 40!

As Couche-Tard marks a milestone birthday, president and CEO Brian Hannasch discusses the Quebec-based company’s ascent to one of the biggest convenience store players on the planet 

1980-Couche-Tard-1980Alimentation Couche-Tard wouldn’t be the retail powerhouse it is today—growing from a single store in 1980 to more than 9,400 convenience stores in North America and 2,700 in Europe (most under the Circle K banner)—without innovation as a trajectory for growth.

Take Couche-Tard’s on-demand bean-to-cup coffee and grab-and-go “Fresh Food Fast” innovations. Both programs have helped to accelerate the convenience store’s credibility as a destination for quality sustenance. Since 2000, the Laval, Que.-based company has also kept the gas on store modernizations, and, more recently, an ear to the ground on learning opportunities with other companies, which has seen it expand into nascent categories, including cannabis. 

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 4.31.02 PMWhen it comes to new technology, the convenience sector isn’t exactly known as an early adopter. However, as Couche-Tard’s president and CEO Brian Hannasch shares in our exclusive interview, that is changing. For instance, Couche-Tard is making investments in AI, a digital-based loyalty and upsell program called LIFT and employee training that uses gamification.  Here, Hannasch, who has been president and CEO of Couche-Tard since 2014 and was COO from 2010 to 2014, talks innovation in various forms and Couche-Tard’s philosophy behind it. 

What does innovation in the convenience store industry look like to you?

With our vision to make our customers’ lives a little easier every day, innovation is one of our guiding stars. Historically, the convenience store industry has been less impacted by new technologies than other retail channels—our customers come to us for immediate consumption of products or services that require significant infrastructure, like fuel. However, with new digital possibilities and customer expectations, in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, innovation is taking off in the convenience sector and at Couche-Tard. 

Can you give us a peek into the innovation pipeline?

We are working on exciting developments, including frictionless experiences in the stores, the use of AI for pricing and personalization, and other new possibilities, such as home delivery, which make traditional convenience even easier. 

Given the pandemic, how important has home delivery innovation become?

Innovation was already a big focus before COVID-19 hit us, but the pandemic provided an opportunity to accelerate our innovation projects. We are just starting to learn more about home delivery and its role in our business. As of this date, we are piloting it in around 1,000 stores in all the regions in our network (although most are in the U.S.), and across multiple banners. We have also implemented [curbside pick-up service] Click & Collect in 1,000 stores. 

Couche-Tard has continued to expand LIFT. How has the loyalty program been a game-changer?

LIFT provides us with the ability to understand our customers’ purchase histories and to offer them personalized discounts and engagements based on their baskets. The LIFT digital platform is the anchor of our digital store network, delivering personalized value to our customers, increasing engagement and loyalty, and enabling our consumer-packaged goods partners and their media agencies to leverage the platform. 

How so?

Through LIFT, we are able to drive awareness of new brand launches with our business partners and develop brand relationships with customers, while delivering significant growth in a category at the time of purchase.  We also use the LIFT platform to promote our private label, increasing loyalty to these products. We are very pleased with the deployment of LIFT, which is now available in close to 7,600 corporate stores in North America.  We intend to continue deploying LIFT in the year ahead with the former Flash Foods sites in the U.S. and our North America Circle K franchise network.

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How else are you innovating in the area of customer experience?

We have been introducing a new store format based on the Holiday model in North America [Couche-Tard acquired the popular convenience chain in 2017}, and a new store concept in Europe. This is a never-ending process of continuous improvement. These new store concepts not only enhance the look and feel of our locations, they highlight the development of our food program as we look to innovate and elevate prepared fresh food items at our stores. Escalating fresh food service is among our core strategic priorities for growth.  

Let’s talk about using innovation when it comes to the development and training of employees.

Digitization has been key to our growing-together efforts. This year, we fully implemented our digital HR platform to all our North American employees and set the stage to start it in Europe. We also launched gamified training in all our European divisions, focusing on sales techniques and food, that achieved a 90% employee completion rate and led to an increase in basket sizes. This is now being successfully piloted in designated U.S. business units and is a great training tool that we didn’t even imagine 15 years ago. 

Couche-Tard staked its ground in cannabis retail with Canopy Growth, together opening a store in May 2019 under the banner Tweed. How is that going?

The operational results have been strong, and we are happy with this ongoing relationship to open more Tweed stores in Ontario. In July 2019, we also announced a strategic investment in Fire & Flower, the largest cannabis retail operator in Canada. The legal framework doesn’t allow Circle K or Couche-Tard stores to sell cannabis products in Canada. We feel that partnering and investing in experts in the cannabis sector, while contributing our vast expertise as a responsible retailer of age-restricted products, is the best model to learn more about this space and become a leader in the legal cannabis industry.

You often hear the advice “don’t innovate for innovation’s sake.” What philosophies does the company follow when it comes to innovation?

We don’t chase technology for the sake of it but rather to address actual pain-points in the customer journey. We explore new ideas and innovation in a very structured way to ensure an alignment with our strategic objectives. We also make sure innovation is a repeatable process creating value for our customers and a source of learning for the future. It is important for us to have dedicated innovation capacity, to place multiple bets, to be willing to fail and move on, and to nurture a culture of experimentation. We achieve some of this by working closely with start-ups and academia, and sometimes with companies that might be seen as disruptors in our industry. 

For photos and a timeline of the Couche-Tard’s innovation, read the September/October issue of Convenience Store News Canada.

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Couche Tard on hunt for acquisitions but CEO doesn’t get rival’s Speedway deal

couche-tard2-780x520=Alimentation Couche-Tard continues to be on the hunt for acquisitions even as it claims convenience store rival 7-Eleven’s blockbuster US$21-billion acquisition of the Speedway network in the U.S. doesn’t make sense.

Chief executive Brian Hannasch told investors September 2 that the deal announced last month for the 3,900-store network owned by Marathon Petroleum “traded at value, quite honestly, I can’t understand.”

He said potential acquisition deals have been relatively quiet in the quarter but that activity should pick up as the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic lessens.

“Now that COVID has become a bit of the new normal, we are starting to see a little more deal flow … And if the value is there, we’ll certainly take advantage of those opportunities.”

The fragmented U.S. market remains a prime target as are significant opportunities in Western Canada.

Asia-Pacific, including Australia, remains “a strong area of focus due to long-term growth potential.”

“We are exploring several opportunities actively there,” Hannasch said, adding that the pandemic has created uncertainty Down Under.

He said Ampol (formerly called Caltex), which Couche-Tard had previously targeted, has been weaker than expected. Peter Sklar of BMO Capital Markets said he doesn’t believe Couche-Tard will pursue a deal in the near-term because of its weak financial performance.

While there are markets in Europe that are interesting, the region isn’t a priority, Hannasch noted.

Acquisitions are part of Couche-Tard’s strategy to double its size within five years.

Hannasch said its five-year plan remains on track after two years despite the coronavirus.

“I’m pleased that we continue to make good progress on most of our initiatives. While the pandemic has had an impact short-term on traffic patterns and behaviours, there’s a lot of pushes and pulls.”

Couche-Tard’s shares surged 7.5% Sept. 2, after it reported strong first-quarter results after markets closed on Tuesday.

The company said its net profit surged 44% despite a big drop in fuel sales at its convenience stores because of COVID-19.

The Quebec-based retailer that operates the Circle K brand says it earned US$771.1 million or 70 cents per diluted share in its first quarter, up from US$538.8 million or 48 cents per share a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings attributable to shareholders came in at 71 cent per share, up from 40 cents per share forecast by analysts, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

“We had an exceptional quarter, I think, both financially and operationally, as we’ve seen an increase in shopping occasions and solid execution by our teams to take advantage of changing consumer behaviours during this COVID period,” Hannasch told analysts.

Revenues for the three months ended July 19 decreased 31.4% to US$9.71 billion, compared with US$14.2 billion a year earlier and below forecasts of US$10.55 billion.

The retailer said its in-store sales benefited from shoppers buying more, while fuel sales were hurt by lower demand and prices, partially offset by strong fuel margins.

Tobacco sales were strong, especially in Canada.

Same-store fuel volume decreased 21.2% in the U.S., 25.6% in Canada, and 12.4% in Europe.