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    Couche-Tard Reorganizes to Facilitate Growth

    Creation of two new business units makes room for imminent acquisitions.

    LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. realigned its business regions in the U.S., resulting in the creation of two new business units -- the Southwest division and Gulf division – which will position the company for future acquisitions, the company stated.

    "This realignment was necessary due to acquisitions that occurred over the past few years, and in order for our business units to position themselves for growth opportunities and to maintain the integrity of our business model which calls for each of the divisions to remain close to their stores, their customers and provide opportunities for our people," Real Plourde, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

    In fiscal 2007, Couche-Tard purchased 420 stores, and stated in its financial report for the second quarter of 2008 that it has the capacity for an acquisition of approximately 250 stores.

    However, CSNews Online has learned that the Canadian retailer is currently in negotiations for at least one, and possibly several acquisitions, encompassing as many as 900 new stores.

    Stores operated by Marathon Oil Corp.'s Speedway SuperAmerica chain as well as BP's company-owned and -operated locations have been the target of speculation. Linda Casey, spokeswomen for Speedway SuperAmerica (SSA), told CSNews Online that the company "does not respond to speculation or rumor." One anonymous source said that SSA was selling off some stores in northern Illinois due to distribution issues.

    In November, Richard Fortin, Couche-Tard's chief financial officer, told the Canadian Press the company is interested in purchasing some of the more than 700 convenience stores BP plans to sell in the U.S. during the next two years, since the Canadian retailer has operations in the same markets as the BP stores that are slated to be sold.

    Couche-Tard's new Southwest division, based in Dallas, will be comprised of stores located in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico. As part of the reorganization, Lou Valdes was appointed to the position of vice president of operations for the Southwest division. Valdes has spent nearly a decade with Circle K, holding a variety of positions including district manager and director of operations and facilities, the company stated.

    The new Gulf region will be based in Pensacola, Fla., and will be made up of stores in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and the western panhandle of Florida, the company stated. The company appointed 17-year Couche-Tard veteran, Jason Broussard, to the position of vice president of operations for the Gulf division. Broussard has held a variety of positions, including zone manager and point of sale coordinator to director of marketing and fuel, according to the company.

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