BLOOMINGTON, Minn. --Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. plans to keep the Holiday name and brand after it officially acquires the Holiday Stationstores convenience-store chain rather than convert all of the sites to the new global Circle K brand, the retailer has confirmed to CSP Daily News.
The story was first reported by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Here are the details. …
Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard signed an agreement with Holiday Cos. in July to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Holiday Stationstores Inc. and certain affiliated companies. Holiday’s assets, located in the upper Midwest, include 522 company-operated and franchised convenience stores, a food commissary and a fuel terminal.
Holiday operates 374 stores and franchisees operate 148 stores. It has a presence in 10 states—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan and Alaska—six of which are new to Couche-Tard: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Alaska.
Following the Holiday acquisition announcement, industry observers and investors speculated whether Couche-Tard would rebrand the Holiday stores to Circle K. But the company has since confirmed plans to keep the Holiday brand.
“Holiday Stationstores have strong name recognition and reputation in the region, and we plan to continue that legacy following the close of the acquisition,” Lisa Koenig, spokesperson for Couche Tard, told CSP Daily News. She did not provide additional details, including whether any of the acquired sites might eventually be rebranded to Circle K.
Couche-Tard said it intends to keep Holiday's corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., as the chain’s base of operations.
“These [Holiday] sites are very unique assets,” Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, said during the August conference call about the deal. “I would put these in the same league as the Esso network that we purchased in Canada—very much top-quartile assets [based on NACS data] in both fuel and convenience volumes that are almost double the industry average.
“As much as any stores we’ve ever purchased, they are in really good shape [and] very well run,” said Hannasch.
A decision on rebranding “is somewhat in the future,” he said. “Our focus is on getting the transaction done and understanding what goes into this brand, which is a very strong brand in the marketplace, winning in the marketplace. And once we understand that better, we’ll certainly have dialog with the management team and make a decision about that going forward. For today, we’re committed to the Holiday brand.”
Alex Miller, senior vice president of global fuels for Couche-Tard, said, “The Holiday brand is very strong, with high brand awareness in its geography. Our focus right now is to understand that brand and leverage that brand and grow the business. Beyond that, no decisions have been made.”
In 2015, Couche-Tard launched a global initiative to bring all of its retail brands under one refreshed global banner, creating a new, global convenience brand, Circle K.
Couche-Tard has nearly 9,500 c-stores in North America, including more than 7,550 stores under the Circle K, Couche-Tard, Corner Store and other banners. In Europe, it operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltic states and Russia that includes about 2,750 stores.
In addition, licensees operate close to 1,700 c-stores under the Circle K banner in 17 other countries and territories worldwide (Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guam, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam), which brings the total network to nearly 14,000 stores.
The new Circle K brand is replacing Couche-Tard's existing Circle K, Statoil, Mac's and Kangaroo Express branding on its c-stores and gas stations across the United States, Canada (except in Quebec), Scandinavia and Central and Eastern Europe. The new Circle K brand will also appear on licensed stores across Asia.
Hannasch said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in August that the retailer’s plans for foodservice over the next year include a specific focus on growth of its own Simply Great Coffee program in North America, along with other concepts.
But he also hinted that foodservice growth opportunities would emerge from the Holiday acquisition. “Holiday has a very impressive food commissary which supplies fresh and frozen foods for its stores,” said Hannasch.
Holiday’s commissary in Brooklyn Center, Minn., is a large-scale operation making fresh and frozen food, including 50,000 sandwiches a day. The chain offers the Holiday Pantry sandwich and salad line sourced from the commissary.
“They’re supplying a very large geography out of this commissary with high-quality [sandwiches and baked goods] that they’ve done very well with and has become a big part of their foodservice business with a very low labor model,” said Hannasch. “We think we can leverage the existing facility out into our geography to some degree, and then if we like the model and have some success, it’s something we think we could replicate throughout our existing network.”