Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

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storewanderer
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Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by storewanderer » August 30th, 2016, 8:59 pm

Circle K is acquiring the former corporate owned Valero group ("Corner Store"). It seems Corner Store had already sold its locations in CA and WY to 7-Eleven a month ago yet they still operate some locations that 7-Eleven rejected in California.

I think this is a good fit for Circle K since they run a majorly corporate owned store group and the "Corner Store" network as a whole was actually pretty nice; well kept and ran clean stores. The CA ones were a little small and not so great due to age.

This is sad news for Valero as these "Corner Store" places were the only nice/decent stations in the Valero network and it is questionable if Circle K will retain Valero branding. Kangaroo Express had a lot of stations branded Valero and Circle K transitioned all of those over to BP, Shell, and Exxon/Mobil earlier this summer.

This will also make Circle K the largest c-store operator in North America. Good for them; I've always liked Circle K. But I don't like their new logo. The new logo is a mistake.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by wnetmacman » August 31st, 2016, 6:12 am

They also made a smaller purchase yesterday of a group of stores around the Louisiana area called Cracker Barrel (unrelated to the restaurants) of 53 stores, all but one of which have branded gasoline. I'm not too sure if this is good for us in Louisiana, because, in Lafayette alone, we have 8 Cracker Barrels, 10 Circle K and 8 Corner Stores, all within close proximity to each other. I can't believe there won't be some required divestitures in the CST transaction, to say the least.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by storewanderer » August 31st, 2016, 7:12 pm

That is a quick game of monopoly for Circle K in Lafayette...

Circle K seems to have no problem keeping acquired stores open across from one another. In Arizona there are some intersections with 3 Circle Ks at the intersection and it has been that way for a long time. Between original Circle Ks, former corporate Mobils, single stations they've bought...

Circle K seems to usually have more promotions and better prices than surrounding convenience stores. Fountain drinks are always under $1 at Circle K regardless what region I am in (seems to range .69 to .89 and in some of the .69 regions the biggest cup is the little 32 ounce but it is always a better deal than the competition).

I have not been so impressed with the cleanliness, condition, or service in Circle K Stores as a whole but I always figure it is a trade off for what I consider to be discount prices... and there are some very nice Circle Ks. CST I always was impressed with its cleanliness. My recent service experiences were not great; I think service declined after the split off from Valero.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by arizonaguy » September 10th, 2016, 3:45 pm

This will further solidify Circle K's dominance in the Phoenix area.

There already is practically a Circle K on every street corner and this will move it even further in that direction.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by jamcool » September 11th, 2016, 7:11 pm

QuikTrip has been taking a chunk out of Circle K's "hometown" market of Phoenix. There are new QTs being built everywhere and existing stores are adding "QT Kitchens" with hot foods, while most Circle Ks still have the roller dogs and nachos. And you have Maverik popping up allover Northern Arizona, which probably enter the PHX market eventually.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by storewanderer » September 11th, 2016, 9:37 pm

I doubt Maverik will enter Phoenix. Maverik will not do well against Quik Trip (they simply aren't operated as well) or against Circle K (Maverik's prices are too high). Quik Trip is the gold standard of convenience stores, you simply can't get a better operator. But Quik Trip seems to dislike smaller and medium sized markets due to its operating format and commissary set up, their formula works best in larger metro areas.

Maverik has pulled back on entering Denver after saying they were and after a few years now just has one store in Castle Rock. Maverik seems to be focusing development on smaller and medium sized markets, and also on existing Boise and Salt Lake City areas. I think between Circle K, Kum N Go, Loaf N Jug creeping in, Corner Store, in Denver, they decided there were better opportunities elsewhere.

Maverik has done an organic expansion into Reno area about 6 years ago but hasn't opened a new store around here in a few years now despite owning a couple undeveloped lots. But out in Elko area they just rebuilt one store and also added a brand new store in Spring Creek. So they are investing, just not quite here. I'm not sure why but they seem to have built a handfull of stores and by my observation their stores are doing well. I like their stores much better than 7-Eleven but find them to be understaffed, have slow checkout, and higher than typical c-store prices. Quik Stop and Jacksons both offer better pricing on store items. Maverik does have good products but some of the products they prepare in the store on some days look terrible. For example at the one by my house, the donuts which they bake in store then frost, the frosting is often running off the donuts. Sometimes they go many days at a time without having any cookies because nobody bothers to make any (Maverik's $1.99 each cookies are some of the best cookies you will ever taste). I have never tried any of their hot food but a coworker bought a couple of their breakfast burritos after seeing an advertisement and couldn't even eat them they were so bad. Employee turnover at the Maverik is extremely high and training of employees is not good.

This is an important thing about Maverik. All the expansion they have been doing, they buy the real estate then build their store. I believe this strategy is too costly in larger/metro areas and works better in smaller markets where land is cheaper.

If there was a Quik Trip around, I would never go to Maverik. Quik Trip is very consistent. Maverik is not.

I am expecting Casey's or Circle K to acquire Maverik. Casey's would be a much better fit as the two formats are very similar. I like Maverik and hope it stays independent but when I see how the stores are run I am not too confident. It is the usual Utah chain that gets over ambitious: good ideas, good concept, but too much expansion too fast and a crash and burn happens. Reminds me of when Smiths went into SoCal.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by pseudo3d » September 12th, 2016, 6:08 am

I'm curious as to how Circle K will assimilate the brand. A few years ago, 7-Eleven took over a number of "Speedy Stop" locations and flipped them to "TETCO", which ultimately carried 7-Eleven brands and merchandise mix inside but to my knowledge never became "real" 7-Eleven stores except in a few locations, and this was a few years back, suggesting that 7-Eleven had problems converting the brand in the first place.

Circle K as a brand I'm not too sure on, it's been years since I went to one and they don't seem to have the cachet QT or 7-Eleven seem to have. I feel the high water mark of Circle K was its cameo appearance in the first "Bill & Ted" movie.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by storewanderer » September 17th, 2016, 11:28 pm

Circle K has grown throughout the US primarily by acquisition. Each Circle K Region tends to be a little different in its stores, offerings, and such. Some have no hot food, for instance. Some have fresh brewed iced tea, some have it in the soda fountain, some have no iced tea in the beverage station. I have found Circle K is also inconsistent on cleanliness and service.

7-Eleven which I do not care for, is consistent for the most part. You know what you are getting into when you go into one, they generally all have the same products and layouts, and they have not changed much at all over the years.

7-Eleven bought the "Corner Store" sites in CA and rejected about 30 of the 60 or so sites so those have all been sold off to independents. 7=Eleven seemed to reject sites mainly that had small stores. I can guarantee Circle K would have taken all of those sites at least initially.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by pseudo3d » September 18th, 2016, 9:13 pm

storewanderer wrote:Circle K has grown throughout the US primarily by acquisition. Each Circle K Region tends to be a little different in its stores, offerings, and such. Some have no hot food, for instance. Some have fresh brewed iced tea, some have it in the soda fountain, some have no iced tea in the beverage station. I have found Circle K is also inconsistent on cleanliness and service.

7-Eleven which I do not care for, is consistent for the most part. You know what you are getting into when you go into one, they generally all have the same products and layouts, and they have not changed much at all over the years.

7-Eleven bought the "Corner Store" sites in CA and rejected about 30 of the 60 or so sites so those have all been sold off to independents. 7=Eleven seemed to reject sites mainly that had small stores. I can guarantee Circle K would have taken all of those sites at least initially.
Their acquisitions seem to have been pretty hit and miss, when they bought UtoteM back in the mid-1980s, they closed most of them within a few years, because they were small, dated 1960s-era stores, and only a few of them even had fuel stations.

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Re: Circle K acquiring "Corner Store"

Post by jamcool » September 19th, 2016, 6:54 am

That mid 80s acquisition period was when former billboard magnate Karl Eller ran Circle K- they bought UToteM, then Stop & Go, then Little General, and other regional chains, in an attempt to be the largest C-store chain in the country-it didn't work out.

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