Holiday sale would create national chain of convenience stores

In a major shake-up of the local convenience store business, Holiday Companies confirmed last week that an agreement has been reached to sell the multibillion-dollar company to Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., a Canadian company that also owns Circle K. The sale price was not disclosed.

The deal, which must still be approved by Holiday shareholders and federal regulators, would allow Circle K to expand into six new states. There would be Couche-Tard-owned stores in all but two states, well ahead of leading rival 7-Eleven, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.

“We are pleased to entrust Couche-Tard with carrying forward the Holiday brand and our highly successful programs,” said Ronald Erickson, Holiday chairman and CEO. “Our 90-year history and our promising future are being placed into excellent hands.”

Couche-Tard executives praised Holiday as one of the “strongest, well-run” convenience store companies in the northern United States, noting that Holiday’s 200 stores dominate the Twin Cities market, where the company has a market share of about 30 percent. The chain has more than 40 locations in the Northland.

Holiday stores typically generate sales that are twice the industry average for both food and fuel, according to Couche-Tard. Holiday operates a total of 522 stores in 10 states. The retail chain generated revenue of $2.6 billion in 2016, state records show.

When asked if the Holiday brand would survive the transaction, however, Couche-Tard officials were noncommittal. In a conference call with investors, Couche-Tard officials said no decisions have been made about changing the name.

“The Holiday brand is extraordinarily strong with high brand awareness in its geography,” said Alex Miller, senior vice president, global fuels. “Our focus right now is to understand that brand and leverage that brand and grow the business.”

If Couche-Tard — French for “night owl” — retains the Holiday brand, that would be a first, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). In every other U.S. acquisition, Couche-Tard has brought new stores into the Circle K family, NACS spokesman Jeff Lenard said.

“There are benefits to having the same brand, in terms of how they roll out products and brand awareness,” Lenard said.

While department store chains and other retailers have been pummeled by Internet-based operators, convenience store chains have remained popular with consumers, fueling a wave of recent acquisitions by both…

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