LAVAL, Quebec — In 2019, five convenience-store chains rose to the top of the most aggressive growth companies in the industry. As part of its 2020 Top 202 list, CSP analyzes those chain's standing in mergers, acquisitions and new-store construction.
Headquarters: Laval, Quebec
2020 Rank: No. 2
Code Name: Brand Unifier
Insight:Secures platforms across multiple continents, uniting decentralized business units under a single brand, Circle K.
Even in the ever-shifting M&A landscape of convenience retail, Couche-Tard continues to hold its No. 2 spot on CSP’s 2020 Top 202. This is even after the company’s U.S. store count declined by more than 2,000 sites in the past year, from 8,389 to 5,993, with the dramatic change based on a reclassification of some of Couche-Tard’s stores and not a sale or rebranding.
In 2019, after a series of asset swaps, Couche-Tard sold fuel distributor and retailer CrossAmerica Partners to the company’s founder, Joe Topper. Couche-Tard had acquired CrossAmerica in 2017 as part of its purchase of CST Brands.
All former CST sites in the United States have been rebranded to Circle K. The company is seeing “meaningful reverse synergies” from its Holiday Stationstores integration, said Brian Hannasch, Couche-Tard’s president and CEO, on the company’s third-quarter earnings call. Couche-Tard has also converted more than 85% of its in-scope North American sites displaying the new Circle K brand.
Despite the pandemic, Hannasch has reiterated Couche-Tard’s goal to double the number of new-to-industry stores in the next three years. Meanwhile, its pursuit of Australian refiner-marketer Caltex may resume when global economies settle down.