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    Couche-Tard Evaluating Corporate vs. Franchise Model in Quebec

    MONTREAL -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is taking steps to franchise an unknown number of its convenience stores in Quebec. The move come as the retailer faces efforts by organized labor to unionize its stores in the province.

    Until now, the c-store chain has favored corporate-owned stores across its portfolio. However, according to the Financial Post, Couche-Tard acknowledged that business model may not work anymore. To that end, Couche-Tard confirmed this week it will sell six of its corporate locations to franchisees. Employees at three of those locations have unionized, part of seven Couche-Tard corporate stores in Quebec to date at which the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) has won certification to represent workers.

    The retailer said heightened competition and changes in market conditions means its corporate network in Quebec may need a revamp. The company said franchising stores represents a way to share the financial risk of operating a store while allowing the company to maintain its geographic footprint for customers, the news outlet reported.

    "We are following the strategy that we have west of Quebec in Canada," by which a portion of our stores are operated by dealers or franchisees, Couche-Tard Founder and Chief Executive Alain Bouchard told the news outlet in an e-mail.

    "We want to evaluate which model could work better for us," he said, adding that in regions where it's difficult for the company to find employees and the minimum wage is high, it may make sense to shift responsibility to new owners.

     

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