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Highlights from the 2023 CICC Summit

Convenience leaders tackle the big topics.
Michelle Warren smiles
CICC Summit 2023 Anne and Tony on stage
Tony Chapman in conversation with Anne Kothawala

Industry leaders from across Canada gathered in Montreal last month for the annual Convenience Industry Council of Canada Summit.

The three-day event included networking, insightful speaker sessions, celebrations and a spotlight on innovation, with the Trade Exchange.

Hosted by marketing guru and podcast host Tony Chapman, the speaker sessions included important conversations about the channel and CICC’s advocacy efforts.



It’s not about corporate or independents, said president and CEO Anne Kothawala. “We are all about the strength of the channel.”

  • John Wright of Maru Public Opinion highlighted consumer purchasing behaviours, noting that people value the role of c-stores in their communities and while the experience is intergenerational, “younger generations are going more than the older generations.”
  • J.F. Archambault, founder of La Tablée des Chefs, spoke passionately about his personal experiences that shape his advocacy work around tackling food waste: “47% of food is wasted in Canada while there is so much food insecurity,” he said, stressing that mitigating this can’t be an add-on for convenience stores: “Food recovery needs to be part of your playbook if it’s going to work.”
  • Bob Espey, president and CEO of Parkland Corp., spoke about Parkland’s commitment to adapting and embracing change. “This is an industry that is resilient, that has survived the test of time,” he said. For instance, “Energy transition is going to happen and we believe that as an organization… on the flipside there is a lot of opportunity.”
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CICC director panel photo

A CICC Panel with Kothawala; Sara MacIntyre VP, Western Canada; Michel Gadbois, VP, Québec; and Mike Hammoud, VP, Atlantic Canada; discussed the big issues and opportunities impacting the channel from coast to coast—contraband tobacco, interchange fees and more—and the power of coming together as one voice to advocate for operators across Canada.

The Distributor Panel talked about constantly keeping up with consumers’ changing demands for new and innovative products.

  • “We have to continually change as distributors to accommodate many more SKUs,” said Core-Mark’s John Carbone. “We know consumers are changing taste and changing preference—demanding more variety in products.”
  • “People coming to Canada and those here expanding their tastes,” added Brent Newman from Sobeys Wholesale. “We have to be delivering those products and services for where the consumers is going to be, not where they were.”
  • Serge Nadeau of Groupe Beaudry emphasized the industry’s growth area: “At convenience, the foodservice part is increasing year after year.”

The Retailer Panel discussed a wide variety of challenges and opportunities.

  • Marc Goodman of 7-Eleven Canada, also emphasized the food-first mentality as a point of differentiation: “We are going to continue to reposition ourselves as a restaurant that also happens to sell convenience items.”
  • Suzanne Poirier of Alimentation Couche-Tard talked about growing a global brand and aligning with Circle K Day: “It is not just driving traffic to the store—it’s really feeling like one team.”
  • Dave Button of North Sun Energy talked about integration: “We learn from each other. We are very open for taking feedback from retailers to help us learn as we go and grow the business.

  • Ron Hyson of MacEwen Energy discussed the journey into convenience with the acquisition of Quickie and what he’s learned so far: “There is some stuff that has to be consistent, but over standardization kills a lot of business of scale. You have to listen to locals and local customers.”


CICC innovation awards logo

The gala dinner was the backdrop for the Convenience Innovation Awards. Congratulations to all the winners!

Outstanding Industry Leader: Mel Tiruneh

Humanitarian Award: Core-Mark International

Outstanding Partner of the Year: Guru Beverages

Beverages (Energy/Caffeinated): Monster Energy Peachy Keen

Beverages (Regular): Saputo’s Milk2Go in Mystery Flavour

Chocolate: Nestle’s KitKat Pops

Confectionery: Mondelez’s  Trident Sour Patch Gum in Redberry 

General Merchandise (tie): SRP Companies’ Apple Watch Charger and RBH’s VEEV One 

Snacks (Savoury): Jack Links’ Golden Island Korean Jerk

Snacks (Sweet): Kind Snacks’ Fuel in Dark Chocolate Nut


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