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CARY, N.C. — During Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.'s 2016 fiscal first-quarter earnings call on Sept. 1, President and CEO Brain Hannasch revealed Kangaroo Express locations would transition to the Circle K banner in January. Those plans are still in place, however, the Canada-based retailer now plans to bring the Circle K brand — complete with a new look — to the global stage.
Leading the change in the Southeast is Darrell Davis, senior vice president of operations at Couche-Tard.
"It's been a busy year and half for us internally as we look at all the different brands that we represent and what's the go-forth strategy and being able to serve our customers better," Davis told CSNews Online in an interview Tuesday.
The c-stores in the Southeast United States — which include Circle K and Kangaroo Express locations — will be the first to feature the new Circle K brand and image. The process will take about a year. Included in the transitioning are nearly 2,400 stores in four divisions: the South Atlantic, Southeast, Florida and the Gulf Coast. All four divisions are represented by their own vice presidents.
"We are a global brand, but we still have local decisions and local flair and local ways that we go to market," Davis reported.
Today, Couche-Tard operates four retail banners: Circle K, Kangaroo Express, Statoil and Mac's. The company's leadership team faced some "tough and emotional questions" when deciding which banner to make its global convenience brand, according to Davis.
"The leadership team felt because Circle K already had a global presence, larger than the other brands it represented, the recognition of that name would be broader," he explained. "That in itself was one of the deciding factors in selection of the brand."
There is always the concern not to alienate customers who were loyal to one brand; however, Davis noted that Couche-Tard has acquired "very good companies" with good people. The brand change sets the foundation for Couche-Tard to build the Circle K brand and what it stands for long term.
"Where we do find comfort is in the people. In all our acquisitions, if you talk to [founder and executive chairman of the board] Alain Bouchard, he would say it isn't the assets we bought, it's all the talent and the people that deliver to our customers everyday that make us a good, growing company," he said.
"I feel good because I have some great people here and across the globe who are going to deliver what they have always delivered before," Davis added.