Company News

No Rush to Rebrand 'Run'

Couche-Tard won't force On the Run franchisees to rebrand to Circle K
LAVAL, Quebec -- Two weeks after Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. announced its purchase of the On the Run franchise from ExxonMobil, the company insists it does not intend to force On the Run franchisees to rebrand their sites to Circle Kat least not yet. "We don't have any plans on a short-term basis to force people to move from On the Run to [Couche-Tard brand] Circle K," Couche-Tard's vice president and CFO Raymond Pare told CSP Daily News this week.

Could that change in the near future? Maybe, Pare said.

"That's a question we're working on. We've already [image-nocss] started discussion," he said. "The first step is to work with the franchisees in order to determine what will be the next step. This is not a decision that will be made in [the Couche-Tard] office [alone]; it is a decision that we will make together. And it will be what makes sense and what will create more value for the franchisees and us overall."

That doesn't prevent a franchisee who is interested in rebranding from making the move, however.

"If a franchisee at a certain point believes that Circle K would be better for them, it will be his choice, and we will work with them," Pare said. "For sure we don't have any plans on a short-term basis to force people to move from On the Run to Circle K. It's a business relationship we need to establish with these people. We're not coming in and forcing anybody [to rebrand]."

Couche-Tard announced its deal April 29 to acquire from Exxon Mobil Corp. the On the Run convenience-store franchise system. Couche-Tard will take control of the franchise agreements for approximately 450 On the Run stores currently operated by ExxonMobil-branded fuel dealers and distributors. The price of the deal, which is expected to close in late May, was not disclosed. Pare also would not say how many years remain on the average franchisee's contract.

He did say Couch-Tard CEO Alain Bouchard spent three days in early May visiting with On the Run franchisees to deliver Couche-Tard's message that "We want to work together," and the listen to the franchisees' concerns.

"We opened the discussion with them last week and it seems that our idea of a network that shares with our [Circle K] franchisees [is accepted]," he said. "We'll work together to establish a next step. There's no action planned or specific plans."

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