Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. or simply Couche-Tard is a Canadian multinational operator of convenience stores. The company has 15,000 stores across Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Japan, China, and Indonesia. The company operates its corporate stores under mainly Couche-Tard, Mac's, Circle K, On the Run and also under the affiliated brands 7-jours, Dairy Mart, Daisy Mart and Winks.
|Traded as||TSX: ATD.A, ATD.B|
S&P/TSX 60 component
|Industry||Retail (Convenience stores)|
|Headquarters||Laval, Quebec, Canada|
|Revenue||$37.9 billion (2017)|
|$1.2 billion (2017)|
Number of employees
|around 120,000 (2017)|
On the Run
Statoil Fuel & Retail
The flagship Couche-Tard and Mac's stores, as well as some older Winks outlets, prominently feature a distinctive anthropomorphic red, winking owl (Hibou). This mascot of a "night owl" (couche-tard) was inherited from the Provi-Soir/Winks chain when it was absorbed.
There are 581 corporate stores in Quebec under the names Couche-Tard, Provi-Soir and Dépanneur 7 jours as well as 298 affiliated stores such as Tabatou. In Ontario, there are 702 corporate stores and 214 affiliated stores, and in Western Canada, 305 corporate stores and 71 affiliates operated under the names Mac's, Mike's Mart, Becker's, Daisy Mart, and Winks. These locations outside of Quebec are set to be rebranded as Circle K stores, starting as of mid-2017.
Alain Bouchard opened his first convenience store in 1980 in Laval. In 1985, Bouchard acquired 11 "Couche-Tard" branded stores in the Quebec City area which he merged with its existing stores in the Montreal area to rename the whole company "Alimentation Couche-Tard". In 1987, the company purchased the 7 Jours chain from Metro-Richelieu, which Couche-Tard has kept as a separate chain to this day.
The chain's current status in Quebec is the result of the consolidation of several major convenience store chains in the province during the 1990s. In 1994, Couche-Tard, already a significant convenience-store operator in Quebec, acquired the La Maisonnée (from Steinberg) and Perrette [fr] chains, as well as Mac's stores in Quebec. The combined chain was subsequently rebranded "Dépan-Escompte Couche-Tard". To better reflect the new Depan-Escompte Couche-Tard trademark, a piggy bank mascot was introduced and replaced the previous Couche-Tard sleepwalker mascot from the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1996, the chain added the Provi-Soir chain previously owned by Provigo and maintained it as a distinct division. In 1998, Dépan-Escompte Couche-Tard and Provi-Soir stores merged to create the chain in its current form; reverting to the old Couche-Tard name (without "Dépan-Escompte"), but adopting the owl mascot of Provi-Soir.
Similarly, Silcorp had consolidated several of the largest Ontario convenience-store chains, such as Mac's and Becker's, under its ownership before being itself acquired by Couche-Tard, which had previously acquired Winks as part of its purchase of Provi-Soir, in 1999. As in Quebec, other corporate banners such as Becker's and Mike's Mart are slowly being phased out in favour of the dominant Mac's brand, although new franchised stores are still being opened under the Winks and Daisy Mart brands.
After making some tentative moves in the U.S. under the Mac's brand in the early 2000s, Couche-Tard acquired the Circle K chain from ConocoPhillips in 2003, promptly rebranding its existing U.S. locations to the better-known Circle K moniker. The Circle K brand is also franchised in Asia and elsewhere. Couche-Tard has held the master franchise for Dunkin' Donuts in Quebec since August 2003, but agreed in August 2008 to terminate this franchise within 12 to 18 months.
Irving Oil storesEdit
Many Couche-Tard locations are gas stations co-branded with Irving Oil. The first stage of this partnership began in 2001 in Quebec. Both companies contributed locations to the partnership: some had convenience stores that previously operated under Irving's "Marché Mainway" banner, while others previously sold fuel under the Couche-Tard brand. All these locations now have Couche-Tard convenience stores and Irving-branded fuel.
The partnership expanded in 2008, as Irving leased its remaining Bluecanoe and Mainway convenience stores to Couche-Tard, expanding the latter chain's reach into Atlantic Canada and New England under the Circle K brand. Irving continues to own the buildings and property, and supplies Irving-branded fuel to these stations.
On the Run storesEdit
In the United States, approximately 470 ExxonMobil On the Run stores are owned or franchised by Alimentation Couche-Tard under an agreement announced April 29, 2009. This also includes 43 ExxonMobil stations in the Phoenix, Arizona market, all of which have been rebranded to Circle K.
Casey's General StoresEdit
In March 2010, Couche-Tard offered $1.9 billion for control of the Iowa-based Casey's General Stores chain, and later announced a proxy fight for control. Casey's rejected Couche-Tard's offer and was successful in September 2010 in retaining its board of directors vs. Couche-Tard's nominated slate.
On April 18, 2012 it became known that Couche-Tard has agreed to buy Norway's Statoil Fuel and Retail (previously owned by Statoil) for $2.8 billion., giving Couche-Tard the largest chain of petrol stations in Scandinavia and a major foothold in Northern Europe with presence in Poland, the Baltics and Russia. On June 20, 2012 Statoil Fuel and Retail's shareholders voted in favor (+91.56%) of the acquisition and later it was declared that Couche-Tard had finally acquired 100% of Statoil Fuel and Retail for approximately 2.8 billion $US (forcing the minority shareholders to sell their shares). This acquisition adds over 2,853 stores to Couche-Tard's portfolio and a mega-presence in Europe. Alain Bouchard is planning to grow this newly acquired chain all over Europe. In 2016, all Statoil stations were rebranded to Circle K.
Imperial Oil retail assetsEdit
On March 8, 2016, Couche-Tard announced it had agreed to purchase Imperial Oil's Esso retail locations in Ontario (228 locations) and Quebec (50 locations) for $2.8 billion. The stations' convenience stores would be re-branded as Circle K in Ontario, and all would remain supplied by Esso.
On August 22, 2016 it became known that Couche-Tard has agreed to buy American company CST Brands for $3.78 billion, $4.4 billion including debt to expand into Texas and other southern states. Couche-Tard would take over 2,000 stores from CST Holdings. This deal, which would be the largest purchase in their history, has yet to go through. Couche-Tard has announced that it will sell around 45% of the new stores to another company to pass competition laws. CST Holdings is based in San Antonio and employs over 14,000 people at the 2,000 stores Couche-Tard will be taking over. The stores are in Southwest and Southeast United States, with a small presence in New York and Eastern Canada. As a result, existing Corner Store facilities are in a soft process of being rebranded as Circle K.
Currently Alimentation Couche-Tard is one of the largest convenience store companies in the world. Alain Bouchard, its president and founder, was just recently appointed "President of the year" by Canadian businessmen. As the company's market capitalization grew over 65% in the last year, Bouchard netted over 1.04 billion $CAD on his 57.7 million share position of Alimentation Couche-Tard and is one of Canadian Business magazine's top 100 richest Canadians. Bouchard's position was solidified by a purchase of 16.9 million shares when the company was trading at intra-year lows in 2008. He said in an interview that his succession plan is in place, but before he retires, he wants to double Couche-Tard's number of stores by 2022.
In early 2010 Couche-Tard started consolidating its outlets in Quebec by closing down many of those that did not do well in sales, and therefore allowing the successful ones to prosper. In all, over 300 stores were closed from 2010 throughout 2012.
On September 23, 2015, Couche-Tard announced that it would adopt the Circle K brand on all of its stores in English Canada, the United States, and Scandinavia. The Couche-Tard brand will be retained in Quebec.
On August 29, 2016, it was announced that they were buying 53 Cracker Barrel convenience stores in Louisiana for an undisclosed price. As in the case with most of its other acquisitions, the Cracker Barrel chain would also be converted to Circle Ks. The acquired chain stores all have gas stations, with the exception of one location, and 12 have quick-serve restaurants. (The Cracker Barrel chain is unrelated to the restaurant chain of the same name.)
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