LAVAL, Quebec -- In assessing its own competitiveness during a recent earnings call, officials with Circle K’s parent company, Alimentation Couche-Tard, identified moist-smokeless tobacco as an area in need of improvement.
The revelation comes on the heels of the chain discovering a subset of tobacco consumers it called “poly users,” generally cigarette smokers who also use other forms of tobacco for different occasions, according to Brian Hannasch, CEO of the Laval, Quebec-based company.
“[Poly users are] using both cigarettes and moist smokeless, cigars, chew, things like that, depending on their smoking occasions, that would include vaping and e-cigs,” Hannasch said on Sept. 6. “So, as we looked at that category, we have seen that we are not as competitive or don’t have the same index in sales to moist smokeless. So probably we’ll get a little more aggressive in that category.”
He tied his talk of moist smokeless to the larger issue of building store traffic, which has experienced a recent period of softness. Just before Couche-Tard’s closing on its purchase of San Antonio-based CST Brands this past June, Hannasch said company executives were “looking at reversing some of the softer traffic trends that we saw coming out of CST pre-close. And then in terms of growing sales, we are also adding quickly programs like Polar Pop, optimizing assortment, optimizing price where both networks are in the same market. So, a lot of activity to try to generate traffic and grow sales in the network.”
Couche-Tard's North American network of Circle K convenience stores consists of 15 business units, including 11 in the United States covering 48 states and the District of Columbia, and four in Canada covering all provinces (under the Mac’s and Couche-Tard flags). The publicly traded company also has a franchise division that oversees international units.