couchetard named convenience store decisions chain of the year

Under CEO Alain Bouchard, the marketer has built an extensive c-store network in the U.S. and Canada.

In a year where several top convenience store companies distinguishedthemselves with new store prototypes,increased sales and strong financialportfolios, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.stood out from the crowd by cementing itsposition as a dominant marketer in the U.S.and Canada. As a result of its outstandinggrowth and strong leadership, ConvenienceStore Decisions is proud to name Couche-Tard its 2007 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

“Couche-Tard is a shining example ofeverything a Chain of the Year shouldbe,” said Shahla Hebets, publisher ofConvenience Store Decisions. “The company’s trademark is outstanding leadershippaced by innovation and a well-executedgrowth strategy that saw the chain addmore than 3,600 stores—which includedsome venerable U.S. and Canadian brands—in just eight years.”

Headquartered in Laval, Quebec, Couche-Tard today operates a network of 5,360convenience stores, 3,308 of which sell motorfuels, covering 28 states and six Canadianprovinces. It employs nearly 40,000 peopleand reported revenue of $10.2 billion in fiscalyear 2006 with net earnings of $196.2 million.

“Under CEO Alain Bouchard, Couche-Tardhas demonstrated the strong leadership and remarkable growth we have cometo expect from a Chain of the Year,”said John Lofstock, Editor-in-Chief ofConvenience Store Decisions. “This isa well-deserved honor the entire CSDteam is proud to bestow on an outstanding company.”

Bouchard, chairman, president and CEOof Couche-Tard, started the chain with onestore in 1980. In 1986, with a network of 34stores, a predecessor of Couche-Tard completed an initial public offering and listedits shares on the Montreal Exchange. Afterestablishing a leading position in Quebec,Couche-Tard expanded through internalgrowth and acquisitions in Ontario andWestern Canada in 1997. In May of that year,Couche-Tard acquired from Provigo Inc. 245Provi-Soir stores in Quebec and 50 Wink’sstores in Ontario and Western Canada.

Remarkable Growth
In April 1999, Couche-Tard acquired980 stores in Ontario and Western Canadaoperating under the Mac’s, Mike’s Mart andBecker’s banners through the acquisition ofSilcorp Limited. In June 2001, the companymade its first U.S. acquisition when it purchased 172 stores under the Bigfoot bannerin Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. In August2002, Couche-Tard acquired 287 stores fromDairy Mart, also located in the Midwest.

The following year in December, Couche-Tard made its biggest splash in the U.S. market,acquiring the Circle K brand, which included1,663 Circle K stores in 16 states and an additional 616 franchised and licensed units.

As part of Couche-Tard’s retail strategy, itsstores are located in high-traffic areas, whichincludes non-traditional locations like linearstrip malls and shopping centers. The designof the stores is based on attracting customersin their local markets rather than conforming to a singlemodel.Theaverage store size is between 2,000 and2,500 sq. ft. compared with approximately3,000 sq. ft. for all new stores. The additionalspace is to accommodate quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and seating.

At the core of its retail offering is a qualityassortment of fresh-brewed coffees, frozen/iced beverages, fresh sandwiches and otherfresh food items marketed under severalproprietary brands including La Maisonneebranded fresh sandwiches and breakfastselections, Sunshine Joe Coffee Co., ThirstBuster and The Frozen Zone. Couche-Tardalso sells motor fuels under multiple privatelabels, including Couche-Tard, Mac’s andCircle K. While branding is considered animportant asset, the company maintains it isnot dependent upon any single trademarkor trade name.

CSD will honor Couche-Tard at the Chainof the Year dinner and reception during the2007 NACS Show in Atlanta. To request seating for this event, please contact PublisherShahla Hebets or Editor-in-Chief JohnLofstock.

CSD‘s Chain of the Year award annuallyhonors a convenience store or petroleumchain that has established itself as a superior retailer and innovator in its markets ofoperation. CSD‘s first Chain of the Year awardwas given to Wawa Inc. in 1990. Couche-Tardfollows 2006 Chain of the Year winner, ValeroEnergy Corp. Other past winners includeSheetz Inc., 7-Eleven Inc., Krause GentleCorp., Amerada Hess, Exxon Mobil Corp.,Petro-Canada and Kwik Trip Inc.

Couche-Tard’s Executive Team Profile:

  • Alain Bouchard, Chairman of the Board,President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Jacques D’Amours, Vice President, Administration
  • Richard Fortin, Executive Vice President andChief Financial Officer
  • Brian Hannasch, Senior Vice President, Western North America
  • Real Plourde, Executive Vice President andChief Operating Officer
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