Couche-Tard lays out roadmap for the next five years

Focus looks to make the company the preferred convenience partner for customers.
Tom Venetis
Associate Editor, Convenience Store News Canada + OCTANE
Tom Venetis head shot
Circle K Gas Station in USA

Alimentation Couche-Tard invited investors and corporate partners to its 2023 ACT Analyst and Investor Conference where the multinational operator of convenience stores and gas operations outlined what is has planned over the next five years.

Brian Hannasch, president and CEO, told the assembled global guests in Pheonix, Arizona, that he firmly believes that the Couche-Tard operates under several key pillars. “One is time,” he says. “We sell time and time continues to be ever more valuable to our customers. We are now spread across 28 countries with some 130,000 people working for us and we meet almost 9 million customer every day. How we engage with our customers is what is what is most important and what keeps me up at night is how we maintain a culture that keeps our customer happy.”

Currently, Couche-Tard has some 7,055 locations in the United States and some 2,184 in Canada operating under its Couche-Tard and Circle K brands. Some 91% of stores in the United States are now operating under the Circle K banner and 97% of stores in Canada operate under the familiar banner.

Hannasch says that there is plenty of room to grow and the goal is to “become the world’s preferred destination for convenience and make our customers’ lives a little easier.”

Hannasch continues that one goal was to achieve a 15% EBITA growth rate from 2013, and he says that the company has hit that ambitious goal.

The company not only hit its 15% EBITDA, but the company also had a tremendous shareholder value growth with an average ROCE of 15.4% since 2013.

He adds that there continue to be plenty of opportunities for organic growth, supply chain improvements and finding more ways to further control costs the company will continue going forward continuing to focus on fundamentals. “My hope is our new strategy is not radically different from what we have today,” he adds. “We are not the newest, shiniest thing on the block, but we want to be the most trusted brand in the convenience space and that we want to provide to everyone who comes to our stores and gas operations... a positive experience.”

Alex Miller, chief operating officer with Couche-Tard, says the company will continue to focus and improve it food offerings. “Consumers are increasingly starved for time and meal habits are changing and consumers are increasingly looking to our channel for food."

The Circle K now has a proven and successful food program and going forward the focus will be on freshness and expanding the number of fresh foods offering to be made available in Circle K locations, and a greater push to increase the Circle K brand as a destination for fresh food offerings for customers, Miller continues.

Couche-Tard will also continue to expand its private label offerings, looking to add some 110 new products to its nearly 300 products already in its stores. Miller says that Circle K continues to be a primary destination for drinks amongst a growing number of consumers, the company will be expanding its cooler offerings and to expand its alcohol offerings into new markets. There is to be a reinvigorated Hot and Iced Coffee offerings with new additions to those categories, a focus on enhancing the customer’s coffee journey with upgraded coffee islands and the incorporation of Nito and Cold Brew offerings.

Fuel sales will continue be a prime generator of revenue going forward as Circle K continues to be recognized as a provider of quality fuels for consumers.

Louise Warner, SVP, global fuels with Couche-Tard, says consumes today see the Circle K brand as one that offers “fast and easy fueling operations with simplified payments, clean and tidy forecourts and technology that work.”

She adds that over the next five years the focus will continue to be on building the brand awareness of Circle K’s gas operations amongst customers and expanding the value-proposition of the brand such as “expanding our Circle K fuel days and looking to expand payment options and looking at cross-sales opportunities such as tying together fuel sales and car washes.”

There is also going to be a growing emphasis on showing customers the values across all of Circle K offerings from fuels, merchandise, and services, unifying the store and digital experience and personalizing the experience of coming to Circle K with relevant content and offerings.

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