According to Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche‐Tard, the company had a solid fourth quarter as COVID-19 restrictions eased. “Across the board, we had positive trends in same-store merchandises sales and fuel volumes as traffic is returning to our locations. While fuel volumes remained impacted by restrictive measures, we had a steady improvement in parts of the network, especially in the U.S., where we are starting to see a return to more normal driving behaviour. We also continued to realize good fuel margins in all regions of the business, despite rising product costs.”
Couche-Tard reports adjusted net earnings were approximately US$564 million, compared with US$520 million in last year’s final quarter. Earnings were driven by organic growth of its convenience activities, higher fuel demand, lower operating and net financial expenses and the net positive impact from the translation of its Canadian and European operations into US dollars, partly offset by lower road transportation fuel margins.
Same-store road transportation fuel volume increased 5.4% in the U.S., 3.6% in Europe and other regions, and 4.9% in Canada, due to higher fuel demand compared to the comparative quarter. In Europe and other regions, road transportation fuel gross margin increased by US$2.18 per litre to US$10.85 per litre, and by CA$2.56 per litre in Canada to CA$10.92 per litre.
“This strong quarter ended a remarkable year both financially and operationally, despite the persistent pressures of the pandemic on our customers, employees and supply partners. Across the global network, we made notable progress on our strategy of accelerating organic growth by expanding our fresh food offer, data-analytic capabilities, and our fuel procurement and transport capabilities. We also reinvented and expanded our brands, making them increasingly more modern and recognizable at every part of the customer journey and facilitated the customer experience through expanded frictionless payment options. Through the acquisition of Circle K Hong Kong, we made our long-planned entry into the dynamic Asian market and, through our Norway lab, we pushed forward our ambition to be a world leader in electric vehicle solutions. Our ability to stay agile, focused, innovative and committed to our long-term strategy has prepared us for an even stronger future," he says.