Alimentation Couche-Tard, the parent company of Circle K convenience stores, made headlines this week by acquiring the 45-location Big Red Stores c-store chain.
Owned by retail firm Summerwood Partners, Big Red Stores’ entire footprint is in Arkansas, with most of its stores located in the surrounding Little Rock region. Many Big Red locations are large-format sites and co-located with a variety of QSR brands, such as McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, Burger King, Dairy Queen and Hardee’s.
Although Couche-Tard operates about 7,000 locations in the U.S., its presence in Arkansas up until this point has been relatively “limited,” as it has about a dozen company-operated stores in the state, a spokesperson from Couche-Tard said in an email.
The acquisition underscores Couche-Tard’s efforts to expand and optimize its store network in the U.S., the spokesperson said. Last year, Couche-Tard agreed to acquire 65 sites from True Blue Car Wash across Arizona, Texas, Illinois and Indiana. In 2021, Couche-Tard made the 19-site purchase of Pic Quik c-stores in New Mexico.
When Couche-Tard saw the opportunity to acquire Big Red Stores, it capitalized on the move to bring the Circle K brand to a new set of customers, the spokesperson said. Once the purchase, which is set to close in the first half of 2023, is finalized, Couche-Tard will more than quadruple its current store count in Arkansas, the spokesperson said.
“The stores themselves are larger, high-quality facilities that enable us to bring our full range of products, programs and offerings that make up the Circle K customer experience — and they’re in great locations,” the spokesperson said.
Upon announcing its purchase of Big Red Stores, Couche-Tard emphasized the “ample space” that Big Red’s large-format stores offer, which could indicate an expansion in foodservice offerings.
When asked if this is in play, Couche-Tard’s spokesperson said the newly acquired Big Red Stores will offer the flexibility needed to fully showcase Couche-Tard’s Fresh Food, Fast program, which the company expects to be in “most of these stores.”
The acquired Big Red Stores will be incorporated into the Couche-Tard network by the business unit overseen by Trey Powell, vice president of operations for the company’s Gulf Coast division, the spokesperson said.
“Big Red Stores have a fantastic team with great relationships with their customers and communities,” Powell said in an emailed statement. “We are looking forward to welcoming that team aboard and building on those relationships with the programs and offerings that Circle K customers far and wide know and love.”