The enormous appetite of industry consolidator Alimentation Couche-Tard and its Circle K brand is formidable: In the past three years, it has purchased some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Pantry, CST Brands and Holiday Stationstores, bringing its store count closer to a whopping 10,000 in North America alone.
Under the hood of that superheated M&A engine is a team charged with integrating those networks into its global platform. Among those leading that group is Darrell Davis.
Time and again, Davis’ name surfaces in investor calls as one of the individuals tasked with achieving synergies, renegotiating contracts and remerchandising stores, all while maintaining the best practices and institutional knowledge that made the original acquisitions valuable.
Davis has a 30-year history in c-stores that includes working at the Dairy Mart chain, which Couche-Tard acquired in 2002. He eventually became vice president of operations for Circle K’s Midwest U.S. division and then its Florida business unit. In 2012, he was promoted to senior vice president of operations for Couche-Tard.
He led the integration of Cary, N.C., based The Pantry (acquired in 2015) and San Antonio-based CST Brands (bought in 2017), playing a key role in optimizing efficiencies in both organizations while absorbing their expertise.
During a 2017 earnings call, Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Couche-Tard, cited Davis’ leadership of the integration processes, pointing out his real-life, hands-on experience. Hannasch described Couche-Tard as a “learning organization,” saying they focus on “capturing the synergies [and] documenting and identifying best practices.”
Davis told CSP, “I say this with all honesty—many of the best team members at our company, from senior executives to real estate and IT managers to marketing and store directors, have come from our acquired companies, whether that company had once been financially struggling or a star in the industry. Couche-Tard is truly a melting pot made up of many great companies brought together under strong leadership and culture.”
Undoubtedly, Davis will continue, along with his colleagues, to play a major part in that progress.
$150 million to $200 million—Circle K’s three-year cost-reduction goal tied to synergies from the CST Brands acquisition. Officials say they are on track.