Couche-Tard 'Accel'erates 2010 Growth

Taylor Oil sells its eight N.C. convenience stores to Canadian powerhouse

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Taylor Oil Cos. has bowed out of retailing for the second time in 11 years, selling its eight Accel convenience stores to Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.'s Circle K Southeast division, as reported in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterday.

In June 1999, Taylor Oil, Winston-Salem, N.C., formed ACCEL Marketing LLC "to build and operate new convenience stores with a large gasoline offering," according to the company's website. That was the same year Taylor sold the 60 stores in its previous retail offering, ETNA stores, to Southeast consolidator The Pantry, now based in Cary, N.C.

Calls to ACCEL Marketing were not returned by press time; however, the company's website shows ACCEL owned and operated eight stores in Mooresville, Concord, Granite Quarry, Concord, Lexington, Mocksville, Clemmons and Gastonia, N.C.

The Couche-Tard transaction is anticipated to close in April 2010 and is subject to standard regulatory approvals and closing conditions. According to a confidentiality agreement between the parties, the purchase price was not disclosed. Internal available cash dollars will pay for the transaction.

All eight stores are company operated and offer proprietary motor fuel. The stores will be operated by the Circle K Southeast Division under the Circle K banner and will offer motor fuel under the same brand. Pursuant to this transaction, the company will buy the land and buildings for all locations.

"These stores are highly visible and occupy strategic locations within their respective trade areas. They are large, modern, well-built facilities that are well operated and have a strong management team in place," Matt McCure, vice president operations for Circle K Southeast Division, said in a statement. "Strategically, this acquisition is a complement to our expansion and growth plans for the Southeast Division."

The acquisition is the first of the 2010 calendar year for Couche-Tard. While 2009 was a "quiet" acquisition year for Couche-Tard, CEO Alain Bouchard told CSP Daily News last month that 2010 could be a different story as "more reasonable" property valuations come into line.

The Canadian company's yearly acquisition goal for the year is 200 stores, with an earnings goal of 10%.

"Depending on where the economy will land in 2010, I think today, we've just started to see more realistic numbers in the [valuation of properties]," Bouchard said. (Click here to read previous coverage.)

Couche-Tard, Laval, Quebec, currently operates a network of 5,904 c-stores, 4,128 of which include motor-fuel dispensing, located in 11 large geographic markets, including eight in the United States covering 43 states and the District of Columbia, and three in Canada covering all 10 provinces.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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