Couche-Tard: ‘Coffee Is Truly Our Focus’

Convenience-store retailer expanding foodservice programs

Kristina Peters, Associate Editor, CSP

(Photo: GSP)

LAVAL, Quebec -- From Simply Great Coffee to Polar Pop, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. continues to expand its foodservice programs.

Currently, more than 1,300 of the company’s global sites (491 in North America) carry the Simply Great Coffee program, but Couche-Tard plans to add the program to 1,400 locations—the majority of those located in the United States and Canada.

“Coffee is truly our focus over the next 12 months in North America,” Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, said during the company’s third-quarter 2016 earnings call.

Simply Great Coffee offers a classic selection of espresso-based beverages and brewed coffee, as well as 2-ounce espresso shots.

“We continue to be very pleased with the results,” Hannasch said. “[We] continue to see strong double-digit growth both in Europe and North America, with Europe being much higher volume and more mature.”

As Couche-Tard implements its Circle K brand globally, that means the popular Polar Pop fountain offering from Circle K also is expanding.

“We’ve got about 60% of the sites complete,” Hannasch said. “[It’s] a massive undertaking when you talk equipment, cabinetry, wiring, plumbing. … Most of this is done through the winter, our slow season for that offer.”

During the third quarter, Couche-Tard also implemented its new bakery offer in 306 stores and expanded its fresh-food assortment into an addition 180 sites in the United States.

“These have been some of the key contributors to strong same-store merchandise revenue in all of our markets,” Hannasch said.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard's network comprises about 8,300 convenience stores throughout North America, including 6,579 stores offering fuel. Its North American network consists of 15 business units, including 11 in the United States covering 41 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces.

In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), Poland, the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Russia. As of Oct. 11, 2015, it comprised 2,217 stores, the majority of which offer fuel and convenience-store products, while the others are unmanned automated gas stations that offer fuel only.