couchetard eyeing shell sites

Canadian company looking to take advantage of dissolving MSO program.

Alimentation Couche-Tard expressed its desire to expand further into the U.S. market making a bid for some of the 2,000 stations Shell plans to sell in the coming years.

“We are always interested in any asset that can become available in the U.S. that can fit with our existing network,” CFO Richard Fortin said to the Canadian Press. “If Shell really intends to sell some other assets and they are offered to us, we might be interested.”

Fortin said this after reading about Shell’s new strategy to sell off many of its multi-site operations (MSO), which would double the amount of “direct-supplied and company operated” sites.

Among the new markets to be “transitioned” are Washington, D.C., southeast Florida, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. This is in addition to markets remaining from the first go-round in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Portland, Alaska, Sacramento and Hawaii. Shell intends to complete the sell-off by the third quarter of 2009.

Fortin told the press that Couch-Tard hasn’t heard from Shell about the expanded sale and couldn’t say if the company has bid on the first round of opportunities. He added that Couche-Tard’s strategy has been to add stores near clusters of outlets it already operates.

“We would not buy say 50 stores that would be lost in a market where we have no presence whatsoever.”

The acquisition of Shell stores has demonstrated the opportunities that exist to put Couche-Tard’s stamp on the outlets by boosting merchandise sales, according to the Canadian Press.

For more on Shell’s MSO program, stay tuned to the November issue of Convenience Store Decisions.

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