Circle K Looks to Boost Fresh Food Sales

Convenience-store chain wants to have North American numbers on par with those in Europe
Circle K exterior
Image: Shutterstock

LAVAL, Quebec — Alimentation Couche-Tard, owner of Circle K convenience stores, has plans to boost its fresh-food sales, which currently are 11% in North America versus half from gross profit from fuel sales, according to Bloomberg.

That’s not a good ratio as vehicles transition to electric, and to up its foodservice game, the Laval, Quebec-based c-store chain is increasing the marketing of food in stores and with ads on food trucks and elsewhere. It hopes this gets customers to try its array of burgers and other hot sandwiches, breakfast items, pizza and more.

  • Alimentation Couche-Tard is No. 2 on CSP’s 2022 Top 202 list of biggest U.S. convenience-store chains by store count.

“As COVID has backed off in most of our geographies, you will see a lot more sampling and marketing around food,” Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, told Bloomberg. “We have a lot more options than what Couche-Tard and Circle K of the past had for customers.”

The goal is for fresh and prepared food sales in North America to be 20% to 25% of revenue, similar to its numbers in Europe, Claude Tessier, chief financial officer, told Bloomberg.

“The quality of the food in stores that I visited in Europe was a little bit more complex and sophisticated than what I could see here in North America,” Martin Landry, Toronto-based Stifel GMP analyst, told Bloomberg.

Couche-Tard’s plan is for universal production facilities in stores to allow for regional tastes, according to Bloomberg. In a model more efficient than operating full kitchens on site, suppliers bring food to stores and employees make it ready to eat. This concept is from Minnesota-based Holiday Stationstores, which Couche-Tard bought five years ago, Landry said. Holiday Stationstores have about $500 daily in fresh-food revenue, twice that of Couche-Tard’s stores in North America, according to Bloomberg.

Couche-Tard will introduce about 10,000 smart checkouts in 7,000 locations to free up employees for duties related to foodservice, Bloomberg reported.

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