Mergers & Acquisitions

Coborn’s Sells Franchised C-Stores to Holiday Stationstores

Retailer focusing on growth efforts in grocery channel
holiday stationstores
Photograph: Shutterstock

Coborn’s Inc. has sold its 14 Holiday franchised fuel and convenience stores to Holiday Stationstores LLC. The deal also includes one site under development.

St. Cloud, Minnesota-based Coborn’s is a 102-year-old, employee-owned grocery retailer with nearly 10,000 employees and 77 grocery stores across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois under the banners Coborn’s, Cash Wise Foods, Hornbacher’s, Tadych’s Marketplace Foods and Sullivan’s Foods.

Coborn’s entered the convenience store business in 1986 with its Little Dukes-branded c-stores and converted 14 locations to Holiday franchised stores in 2006. Coborn’s operates several fuel, liquor and pharmacy locations as well. To support its 200 various retail business units, Coborn’s also operates its own central bakery, dry cleaning facility and grocery distribution center.

  • Coborn’s is No. 158 on CSP’s 2023 Top 202 ranking of U.S. convenience-store chains by number of company-owned retail outlets.

Coborn’s was founded in 1921 by Chester A. Coborn who opened a one-room produce store in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Chris Coborn, a fourth-generation family member, is the current CEO and Chairman of the Board and his daughter Emily Coborn Wright, vice president of retail support services, and his son Peter Coborn, director of liquor operations, are fifth-generation family members in leaderships roles.

Holiday Stationstores—which Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. acquired in mid-2017—operates about 375 stores and franchisees operate about 150 stores. It is based in Bloomington, Minnesota and has a presence in 10 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan and Alaska. Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard has kept the Holiday brand rather than convert the stores to its otherwise global Circle K brand.

Independent investment bank Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc., Richmond, Virginia, provided merger-and-acquisition (M&A) advisory services to Coborn’s, which included valuation advisory, marketing the business through a confidential, structured sale process and negotiation of the sale. Spencer Cavalier, co-head of Matrix’s Downstream Energy and Convenience Retail Investment Banking Group; John Underwood, managing director; Nate Wah, senior associate; and G. Reilly Erhardt, analyst, managed the transaction.

“This is part of Coborn’s overall strategy to focus our growth efforts on the grocery store market,” said Chris Coborn, CEO of Coborn’s. “Matrix’s efforts have led to the successful sale of our Holiday franchise stores to our long-term franchisor partner, Holiday. The transaction provides continuity to our store employees and customers, as the stores will remain Holiday branded and continue to accept the Coborn’s MORE Rewards program. Matrix did an excellent job at meeting our strategic objectives in the sale.”

“Chris and his team have done a tremendous job growing the Coborn’s family business. The family legacy is incredibly impressive with what they have achieved over the last century since the company’s founding,” Underwood said. “I am very pleased that Matrix was able to contribute to Coborn’s future growth by selling the Holiday franchised stores to allow for more capital deployment for Coborn’s strategic growth initiatives.”

Robert Rosenbaum and Morgan Helme of Dorsey & Whitney LLP served as external legal counsel for Coborn’s Inc.

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