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07/30/2021

Couche-Tard to acquire Wilsons Gas Stops and Go! Store locations in Atlantic Canada

Michelle Warren
Editor, Convenience Store News Canada
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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Cape D'Or Holdings Limited, Barrington Terminals Limited and other related holding entities, which operate an independent convenience store and fuel network in Atlantic Canada under the Esso, Wilsons Gas Stops and Go! Store brands.

The Wilsons network comprises locations in all four Atlantic Canada provinces - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island - and includes 79 corporate-owned and operated convenience retail and fuel locations operating as Wilsons Gas Stops and Esso stations, as well as 147 dealer locations (of which two are corporately owned). The company also operates a marine fuel terminal in Halifax. 

"The transaction is a great fit for Couche-Tard and will allow us to continue to build on our geographic expansion strategy through the addition of complementary sites while bringing added value to our team members and customers in Atlantic Canada," Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard, said in a release. "We are committed to purchasing strong sites with capabilities both inside the stores and on the forecourts to further our organic growth platforms and showcase Couche-Tard's industry leading commitment to innovation and customer service, and we clearly see that potential in the Go! Stores and Wilsons' assets and its dedicated employees."

The company said Couche-Tard intends to acquire the Wilsons network with some assets to be purchased by a third-party acquisition partner to be determined following a review of the proposed transaction by the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Wilson is a well-known name in Canadian convenience and gas, with a history that goes back to the early 1800s when the Wilson family first established a mercantile trade company in the Colchester area. Descendants established the Wilson Construction Company, which built many of the notable buildings in downtown Truro, N.S. and the company helped rebuild Dartmouth after the Halifax Explosion in 1917.

In 1909, Wilsons founded a coal company to supply fuel and as the business evolved so, too, did the name to present name of Wilson Fuel Co Ltd. 

In an online statement, the company announced the changes: "Today, we are sharing the news with our employees and other key stakeholders that our gas station and retail business, known by many of you as Cape D’Or Holdings, is being acquired.... During this next period, we remain focused on business as usual and will share more about this transaction when it has been finalized. We will stay in our positions and continue running the business until the transaction closes. We are committed to doing everything we can to support our employees, customers and Couche-Tard through a smooth and orderly transition."

On a more personal note, the company thanked its employees, dealers, partners and customers, explaining: "We have decided it is the right time for our family to pass the baton to someone to take this business to the next level. Couche-Tard has demonstrated their ability to do this, having grown to become a major player around the world. The business approach and values of Wilsons and its employees, created over many years, is something we are very proud of, and we feel are aligned with those of the new owners. Couche-Tard’s scale and capability gives our staff tremendous opportunities for personal growth and furthers our customers’ access to the best offers in the gasoline convenience retail industry. We feel this deal assures a long term and sustainable future for the gas and retail company that we’ve built."

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of the 2022 calendar year and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

The Wilson families will continue to own and operate Wilsons Heating, Wilsons Security, Kerr Controls and Ski Wentworth, saying: 'We intend to remain a strong, Nova Scotia-based multi-generational family company; one that is always evolving."