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The Return of Kangaroo Express

Couche-Tard franchising initiative bringing back an iconic brand
Photograph courtesy of Alimentation Couche-Tard

BATON ROUGE, La. — In a blast from the past, Circle K is circling back to an iconic brand, one that coincidentally features a "K." Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., as part of its network optimization strategy, recently launched a new franchising initiative that is converting 13 Circle K-branded convenience stores in Louisiana to the Kangaroo Express brand.

Four of the stores are in Baton Rouge, three are in Slidell, two are in Shreveport and one each is in Monroe, Lafayette, Monroe and Hammond, La., according to a report by WAFB9.

Couche-Tard owns the Kangaroo Express brand after acquiring The Pantry and its 1,509 locations in 13 states for approximately $860 million in 2015. It has converted most into company-operated Circle K sites, but it made a select group of Kangaroo Express stores available for sale to become the foundation of the Kangaroo Express Franchise program.

“These stores in Louisiana were sold as part of a broader network optimization initiative,” Chris Barnes, director of communications for Couche-Tard, told CSP Daily News. “In this case, there was an opportunity to franchise them. To be clear, Circle K is our lead brand for all existing and new sites. Kangaroo Express, meanwhile, is available via our franchising program at a very small subset of sites that don’t fit with the Circle K brand/market strategy.”

As part of that optimization initiative, Couche-Tard decided in early 2021 to divest 355 sites in North America.

“The decision to divest select stores fits within the company's network optimization strategy and follows a comprehensive and uniform network planning process that began in the fall of 2020,” Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, said in announcing the divestments. “Through this process, we have identified sites that no longer fit our strategic objectives, either from a brand perspective or from a regional scale perspective.”

Under the franchising program, along with Louisiana, Couche-Tard has Kangaroo Express stores in Florida (16), Tennessee (7), Alabama (5), North Carolina (4), California (2), Georgia (2), Massachusetts (1), South Carolina (1) and Virginia (1), according to the Kangaroo Express website.

Cary, S.C.-based The Pantry Inc., at the time of its sale with an enterprise value of $1.7 billion, was a leading independently operated convenience-store chain in the southeastern United States and one of the largest independently operated c-store chains in the country. The company changed hands following a protracted battle with activist investors over the direction of the chain and the makeup of its board of directors. Soon after, Couche-Tard acquired the chain in one of the biggest, highest-profile deals in c-store industry history.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard’s 26-country global network includes approximately 9,300 c-stores in North America, with more than 7,100 in the United States under the Circle K and Holiday Stationstores banners in 48 states, and approximately 2,100 in Canada under the Circle K, Mac’s and Couche-Tard banners. In Europe, under the Circle K and other banners, Couche-Tard operates a retail network in Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltics and Russia including more than 2,700 stores and unmanned automated fuel stations. And under licensing agreements, more than 2,200 stores operate under the Circle K banner in 15 other countries and territories (Cambodia, Egypt, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Macau, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam). This brings Couche-Tard’s worldwide total network to approximately 14,200 mostly Circle K-branded c-stores.

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