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Local executive to take reins of international chain

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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., parent company of Circle K, announced Tuesday that corporation founder Alain Bouchard, left, will take a new role as founder and executive chairman of the board of directors starting Sept. 24. Columbus-based Chief Operating Officer Brian Hannasch will become president and CEO at that time. Submitted photo
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., parent company of Circle K, announced Tuesday that corporation founder Alain Bouchard, left, will take a new role as founder and executive chairman of the board of directors starting Sept. 24. Columbus-based Chief Operating Officer Brian Hannasch will become president and CEO at that time. Submitted photo

A Columbus executive who is chief operating officer for the international company that owns Circle K convenience stores Tuesday was named its next president and CEO.

Brian Hannasch, 47, will take over company leadership of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. on Sept. 24, the date of the company’s annual meeting.

Hannasch joined Couche-Tard in 2001, when the Laval, Quebec-based company purchased the Bigfoot convenience store chain, Johnson Oil Co. It was based in Columbus and founded by the late local entrepreneur, Richard L. “Dick” Johnson.

Hannasch will replace Alain Bouchard, 65, who founded the company and is taking a new role as executive chairman of the board of directors.

The announcement Tuesday was a secret kept from everyone but his wife, Hannasch said Tuesday in a telephone interview. He said the company has had an active succession plan for several years.

Hannasch plans to keep his home in Columbus, but also has a condominium in Montreal.

“I still consider Columbus home,” he said. “I’ve got two kids in school, one a freshman at Michigan and another graduating from (Columbus) East in May, going to either Notre Dame or IU.”

After living a lot of different places, he considers Columbus “a unique jewel.”

“Great values — a great community,” he said, adding he could not have found a better place for he and his wife to raise their family.

Hannasch has served several terms on the board of directors for Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. He also supports the Columbus Philharmonic. In his free time he enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking and golf.

Hannasch is from a small farming community in Iowa and joined the business world with Amoco, which later merged with BP. After staying with BP for about 12 years, working on the East Coast and in Chicago, he went to Nashville, Tenn., before moving to Columbus in 2000.

Hannasch joined Couche-Tard as part of the company’s acquisition of Midwest convenience chain Bigfoot, Couche-Tard’s first step into U.S. territory.

He moved from vice president of operations for the Midwest division to become vice president of integration and then senior vice president for North America, before being promoted to his current role of chief operating officer in 2010.

Since Hannasch joined Couche-Tard, the company has grown from 1,300 stores and 11,000 employees in 2003 to 12,600 stores and about 80,000 employees worldwide.

Bouchard, who plans to transition into a mentoring role and to spend more time in acquisitions, started the company with one Canadian store in 1980, Hannasch said.

“We have an amazing senior leadership team, and Brian is the right person to lead it,” Bouchard said in the company news release announcing Hannasch’s promotion.

“He has been intimately involved in developing our strategy, improving our business, and he has played a pivotal role in the material acquisitions we made over the last 13 years, including our largest and most recent, Statoil Fuel & Retail in Europe. His decisive leadership, his management skills and his deep experience across the entire value chain of our business uniquely qualify him to step into this role. He is well-respected across our industry, he inspires our people, and he embodies Couche-Tard’s core values,” Bouchard said.

The company is dividing Hannasch’s duties as chief operating officer among Couche-Tard’s executive management team.

Hannasch talked about building on Bouchard’s legacy, saying that the landscape ahead offers both challenges and unprecedented opportunities on a worldwide scale.

Challenges can be found in the context of the economy and the environment, Hannasch said, adding that the company’s brand is now a global entity, operating within a global economy.

North America is the company’s largest market by far, he said. It continues to be a major focus for the future, he said, as the company seeks solid profit and shareholder opportunities.

“We’ve had great growth,” he said of the company’s continued expansion into new markets. “But we’re disciplined. It’s the right kind of growth.”

Hannasch said the company’s strength is made up of its great management team and employees.

“Our vision is to build a great company with great people,” he said.

About Brian Hannasch

Professional history

  • CEO of Quebec, Canada-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, Inc., effective Sept. 24.
  • Chief operating officer at Alimentation Couche-Tard (Circle K), Columbus, Ind., May 2010 to Sept. 24, 2014
  • Senior vice president, U.S. operations, responsible for five U.S. divisions and the Worldwide Franchise division, May 2008 to May 2010.
  • Senior vice president, Western North America  2004-2008.
  • Vice President, Integration, 2003-2004
  • Vice President Operations, U.S. Midwest, responsible for all aspects of U.S. operations, 2001-03.
  • Vice President of Operations for Bigfoot Food Stores LLC, a 225-unit convenience store chain in Midwest acquired by Couche-Tard, 2000-2001.
  • Vice President, BP, in various positions of increasing responsibility, 1989-2000, with his last position with BP Amoco as Vice President of Marketing for the U.S. Midwest Business Unit.
  • Manager, Amoco, 1988-99

Education history

  • University of Chicago: Master of Business Administration, Marketing and Finance, 1994
  • Iowa State University: Bachelor of Business Administration, Finance and Financial Management Services, 1989

About Couche-Tard

Couche-Tard Inc. operates 6,221 convenience stores throughout North America, including 4,724 stores that also offer fuel. Worldwide, company has 12,600 stores and 80,000 employees.

In the United States, it is the largest independent convenience store operator in terms of number of company-operated stores.

Canadian news reports said Couche-Tard shares rose 2.6 percent to $87.12 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday after the announcement of Hannasch’s appointment. The company also announced a three-for-one split of all of the company’s outstanding Class A and Class B shares effective April 14.

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