Mergers & Acquisitions

Cracker Barrel Chain Owners Exiting C-Store Business

Couche-Tard acquiring Louisiana retailer’s 53 locations

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Fresh off of its acquisition of CST Brands Inc., Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has agreed to purchase another U.S. convenience-store chain.

Couche-Tard has signed, through its wholly owned indirect subsidiary Circle K Stores Inc., an agreement to purchase 53 Cracker Barrel convenience-store sites held by American General Investments LLC and North American Financial Group LLC.

These sites are located primarily in the Baton Rouge market in Louisiana.

With this deal, the owners of the Cracker Barrel chain are leaving the convenience-store industry.

“The transaction with Circle K Stores Inc. represents a significant milestone in the company’s 48-year history. We made the difficult decision to exit the retail gasoline business, but are looking forward to exploring new business opportunities for the family,” said Chris Sadler, owner of the Cracker Barrel stores. “We have a significant amount of respect for Circle K and have confidence that they will be a responsible steward of Cracker Barrel’s legacy in the community and continue to treat our customers and employees with the highest levels of respect.”

As reported in a McLane/CSP Daily News Flash, these convenience stores include 12 quick-service restaurants (QSRs). All but one of the sites offer branded motor fuels under the Shell, Chevron or Cracker Barrel brand names. Of the 53 sites, Couche-Tard will own the land and building for 47 locations and will assume or enter into leases for the remaining six locations.

Following this acquisition, Couche-Tard will rebrand all of the stores and operate them under the Circle K brand.

“Subsequent to this transaction, Couche-Tard’s network in the Circle K Division of the Gulf Coast Region would include a total of 638 company operated-stores, eight company owned and dealer operated and 54 dealer owned and operated. These stores occupy strategic locations within their respective trade areas. This acquisition would be a great addition to Couche-Tard’s expansion and growth plans for the Gulf Division,” said Brian Bednarz, vice president of operations for the U.S. division of the Gulf Coast region.

Couche-Tard said it anticipates the transaction will close in fourth-quarter 2016 (Couche-Tard’s fiscal third-quarter 2017) and is subject to the standard regulatory approvals and closing conditions.

Raymond James served as exclusive financial adviser to Cracker Barrel in connection with the transaction.

Last week, Couche-Tard announced that it is acquiring San Antonio-based c-store retailer CST Brands for $4.43 billion.

Cracker Barrel was founded in 1968 with the establishment of a single convenience store in Baton Rouge. In the next nearly five decades, the company grew to 53 stores primarily serving the Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La., markets.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard’s network includes 7,888 convenience stores throughout North America under the Circle K and other brands. The network consists of 15 business units, including 11 in the United States covering 41 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces. In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a retail network across Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Ireland, Poland, the Baltics States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Russia through 10 business units.

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