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    CSN Top 50 Focuses on Survival

    Alain Bouchard kicks off event with message of humility, differentiation.

    By Mitch Morrison


    QUEBEC CITY -- Segmentation, differentiation and optimization are critical tools to combat underlying pressures squashing profits in the convenience store industry.

    Alain Bouchard, chairman, president and chief executive at Alimentation Couche-Tard, told attendees at the CSNews Top 50 Forum in Quebec that the industry needs to focus on itself and its ability to continually improve.

    "Forging ahead is a daily challenge and it's a daily delight," he said. "Someone who no longer forges ahead is someone who at some point in time for one reason or another has not only lost sight of reality but also of his or her dream."

    Bouchard described the company's acquisition of Dairy Mart and how there were some skeptics, but by plunking between $50,000 to $250,000, the company is seeing phenomenal returns. For instance, one Dairy Mart unit with $150,000 invested has shown revenues doubling from $800,000 annually to $1.5 million.

    Emcee Alan Beach, 7-Eleven`s director of non-foods, tobacco and new business development, talked about the need to be first to market and the critical goal of differentiating your product line from the competition.

    "As a general rule, we have a small box," he said. "We can't waste any time or any space. We have to optimize."

    He noted that customers become bored with stores that don't mix up products or revise their formats. He added that 30 percent of items sell less than once a month. "You need to find it, kill it and delete it," he said of non-selling items.

    The daylong event featured two other sessions: Driving Sales with New Ideas ... and New Twists on Proven Ideas. Another session discussed Driving Profits Through Cost Cutting.

    The event, called Driving Sales & Building Profit, is to continue today with the focus on motor fuels.

    By Mitch Morrison
    • About Mitch Morrison

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