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Conagra announces Mrs. Butterworth’s brand review

Screen Shot 2020-06-17 at 3.18.05 PMIn the wake of increased scrutiny and accountability around the Black Lives Matter movement, Conagra is conducting a review of its famous Mrs. Butterworth’s brand.

In a statement the company said: “The Mrs. Butterworth’s brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother. We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values.

“We understand that our actions help play an important role in eliminating racial bias and as a result, we have begun a complete brand and packaging review on Mrs. Butterworth’s.

“It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that racism and racial injustices exist around the world. We will be part of the solution. Let’s work together to progress toward change.”

The move comes after Quaker Foods announced it was scrapping the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima breakfast brand over concerns about racial stereotypes. Mars Inc., the parent brand of Uncle Ben’s, is also reviewing its rice brand.


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.


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. 


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.”


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.