The Canadian-based company that owns Circle K and has its U.S. Midwest Region office in Columbus will consolidate its portfolio of brands — Circle K, Statoil, Mac’s and Kangaroo Express — under one new global brand, Circle K.
The announcement by Couche-Tard will affect the company’s existing brands across the nation, Scandinavia and Europe. The Couche-Tard retail brand will be retained in the company’s home base of Quebec.
The branding change comes at nearly the same time the company announced that the number of Circle K stores in Jackson County will grow from six to eight with the company’s purchase of Seymour-based Fast Max stores.
Sale of the 14 stores, including locations in Seymour, North Vernon, Madison and Brownstown, was announced Sept. 23 by Andrea Myers, president of Kocolene Development Corp. Prior to the sale, Fast Max Convenience Stores was a division of Kocolene.
Circle K will debut a new brand identity and signage when it renovates the recently purchased Fast Max convenience stores.
The new brand has a bright red background with “CIRCLE K” in the center, with the K located in a circle on the right of the logo.
The new acquisitions join the company’s seven locations in Columbus plus nearby stores in Taylorsville and Edinburgh.
Bruce Landini, vice president of operations for Circle K’s Midwest Division, said the company examines areas where it already has business units to look at the competitors, and the Fast Max/Kocolene chain fit into the demographic of mid- to smaller-size cities.
“When these become available, we know it could be something we are interested in,” Landini said.
Gary Myers said the sale came about because the company’s leadership team felt the timing was right since the division had experienced increases in sales and profits over the past several years.
“Players in the convenience store industry are getting bigger, more sophisticated and have a lot of capital,” Myers said. “Late last year, our board of directors asked that we perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on all of our business divisions.”
Circle K found the Fast Max locations attractive because each had a long history of operation, a well-established customer base and Circle K already operated stores within those areas, Landini said.
Now that the stores are purchased, Landini said Couche-Tard will evaluate each location to see what Kocolene has done and take it to the next level — with part of that being the new Circle K signage and branding.
Customers won’t see the new branding in Columbus right away, as it is being brought out on new builds, renovations and acquisitions now, said Karen Romer, the company’s director of global communications.
Anytime the company builds a new location or knocks a store down and builds a new one, the new logo and branding will be put in place, Landini said.
Right now, the company is just renovating the Kocolene sites, with remodeling planned for each.
Kocolene, an employee-owned company, plans to keep and grow its Smokers Host Discount Tobacco and Ranger divisions, Gary Myers said.
“The Ranger and Smokers Host models came back with favorable SWOT analysis results, but the Fast Max model did not,” Myers said.
“Our convenience stores have very good real estate locations, but the overall facilities are in need of capital infusion in the near future. Government mandates for health care, higher wages and data security will all be very expensive.
Circle K has the capital and successful programs in place at their other stores, which they could implement in ours. It’s a great fit for them and for our people.”
Other Fast Max locations included in the purchase are in Madison, Salem, Greenfield, Bargersville, Brazil, Bloomington, Washington, Elnora, Loogootee, Terre Haute, all in Indiana, plus a store in Cynthiana, Kentucky.
Kocolene owns 15 Smokers Host Tobacco stores and operates Ranger Enterprises LLC, a warehousing, trucking and logistics company based out of Freeman Field in Seymour.
The Ranger division features 15 warehouses with more than 700,000 square feet.
Kocolene still owns five Fast Max Service stations, in Newburgh and Petersburg in Indiana and Central, Glasgow and Milton in Kentucky.
The (Seymour) Tribune, a sister publication of The Republic, contributed to this story.
Circle K is an international chain of convenience stores, founded in 1951, in El Paso, Texas. It is owned and operated by the Canadian-based Alimentation Couche-Tard with a division office in Columbus. The company’s president and CEO is Brian Hannasch, who lives in Columbus.