Born in Quebec in 1980, the Canadian food and fuel distribution group Couche-Tard, which has its eye on the French Carrefour, has become through acquisitions a global heavyweight of
, as Quebecers call these stores. proximity often backed by service stations.
Read also: The State opposes a takeover of Carrefour by the Canadian Couche-Tard
From North America to Northern Europe via Latin America and Asia, Couche-Tard now has a network of more than 14,000 of these stores, also operated under various other brands, including Circle K, Corner Store, Holiday, Ingo or Mac's, and also operates fuel terminals.
Its market capitalization reached around 30 billion euros on Wednesday.
A Quebec-style success story for this company created a little over forty years ago with the opening of a first business in the Montreal region by Alain Bouchard, Executive Chairman of the Board.
of this success
"are known, they are effective and they are important"
, notes for AFP Jacques Nantel, professor emeritus of marketing at the School of High Commercial Studies (HEC) in Montreal.
"It is a company which is extremely well managed, very profitable and which has always had the capacity to make acquisitions without increasing its debt"
Over 9,000 mini-markets in North America
For him, that the leaders of Couche-Tard are now interested in a global supermarket giant
"is not really surprising"
Couche-Tard, he recalls, has failed in the last year to get hold of the global supermarket giant 7-Eleven and this sector now has
"fewer and fewer interesting acquisitions to make, which would be profitable and integrable ”
More than 9,000 of its convenience stores are located in North America.
They generally offer very extended hours of operation, as well as a limited selection of groceries, newspapers and cigarettes.
Most are located in places easily accessible by car.
In the United States, where Couche-Tard first took root in 2001, the group prides itself on being the
“largest independent operator”
of these businesses in terms of numbers.
Couche-Tard made its first major coup there in 2003 by acquiring the large Circle K chain from the oil company ConocoPhillips, then present in some fifteen states.
"Innovation is part of our DNA"
The group then landed in Europe in 2012 by acquiring the Norwegian Statoil Fuel & Retail, for 2.8 billion US dollars.
It is now present in the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), Ireland, Poland and Russia, with more than 2,700 businesses also selling most of the fuel. for road transport.
"Innovation is part of our DNA"
, explains on the company's website Alain Bouchard, whose mission is to
"provide our customers with what they need, when and where they want it, and , as simply as possible ”
Over the years, Couche-Tard has also acquired the reputation of not hesitating
"to withdraw from transactions that prove to be costly or that do not make sense from a strategic point of view,"
said analyst Chris Li of Desjardins on Wednesday. Securities in a note to clients.
Before each of its acquisitions, the management team is also known to land incognito on the floor of its competitors to identify their weaknesses.
For its staggered 2019 fiscal year, Couche-Tard, which has more than 130,000 employees, posted a profit of nearly 2.4 billion US dollars, for a turnover of 54 billion dollars, coming from 70% of the sale of fuels.