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    Couche-Tard Credit Card?

    Convenience store chain also plans to double store count over the next few years.

    LAVAL, Quebec -- To alleviate itself from "gouging" interchange fees for Visa and MasterCard credit cards, convenience store retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. may have plans to develop its own credit card, the Financial Post reported.

    High credit-card interchange fees, which totaled $180 million last year, were a major concern for the retailer. Alain Bouchard, the company's president and CEO, said the fees cut into sales during a press conference following the company's annual meeting here.

    Meanwhile, Raymond Pare, chief financial officer, wouldn't give details on plans to create a credit card that would compete with the "duopoly" of Visa and MasterCard, but noted it would most likely include a "good group of businesses" that would partner and create a common card with "normal rates," the report stated.

    "[Visa and MasterCard] simply don't compete," Pare said during the press conference. "How can we let this continue?"

    Bouchard said Couche-Tard met several times with representatives from Visa and MasterCard, and has lobbied for a bill regulating the credit-card industry, the report stated.

    Also during the meeting, Bouchard said he would like to double the number of stores the company operates in Canada and the U.S. in the next few years.

    "How big will we get? Well, my successor in 10 years will have to decide that," he said during the conference.

    Couche-Tard recently acquired the trademark rights to ExxonMobil's "On the Run" convenience stores, as well as 43 company-owned and -operated stores and 444 franchised stores across the U.S., the newspaper stated.

    "We won't be in Alaska. Aside from that, we're interested in being everywhere [in the United States]," Bouchard was quoted as saying, adding there are "seven or eight chains of around 1,000 stores that might interest me."

    With the fragmentation of the U.S. market, where "the big players own about 20 percent," Couche-Tard is in a good position to acquire more stores from smaller chains and independent owners, according to the report.

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