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About Circle K :
Circle K is an international chain of convenience stores , founded in 1951, in El Paso,
Texas, United States. It is
owned and operated by the Canadian -based Alimentation Couche-Tard . It is the owner of the Mexican stores
Extra" created by Modelo Group.
Since the 1980s, Circle K has
been the largest company-owned convenience-store chain (i.e. of non-franchised stores) in the
U.S.It was second in overall number of U.S. stores to7-Eleven.However by 1989, it faced strong competition from convenience stores owned by oil companies, and
Circle K declaredbankruptcyin 1990.By July 2010, Circle K had dropped to fourth rank in number of stores (3,455), then
behind BP(4,730 stores) and Shell(4,630 convenience stores).
Some Circle K stores operate
gasoline pumps selling Union 76-branded motor fuels; others sell Mobil, Marathon, Phillips 66, Irving, BP, Sunocoor Shell-branded fuel. Until mid-2006, nearly all Circle K stores in South Texas sold Citgo-branded fuel; however, those stores have dropped the Circle K name and
now operate as Stripes Convenience Stores and are served by Valero-branded fuel. Circle K stores in northeast Ohio vary depending upon what stores they used to be: the majority are
former Citgo/Holland Oil, whose gas is branded as Circle K; others are remnants of the Lawson's/Dairy Martchain, which sell gas from other companies (most of them served Marathon
Gasoline). Some locations, especially older outlets in the company's core markets of the American Southwest, do not sell gasoline.
The chain operates
internationally, branching into Mexico and continents such asAsia. In Hong Kong the store is calledOKin reference to the circle around the K. Circle
K Hong Kong was founded in 1985 by Li & Fung Retailing (later Fung Retailing) as licensee of the name and
now part of Convenience Retail Asia Limited.Circle K currently has 349 locations throughout Hong Kong.
Circle K was previously in the
United Kingdom,Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, acting as the food-store portions of many
Shell stations. The Circle K brand re-entered the Canadian market in 2008, in connection with
Couche-Tard's acquisition of Irving Oil's convenience store network, as discussed below.
The chain is primarily located
in the Southern, Western, Southwestern, and Midwestern United States. In recent years, the company has acquired the 90-store Spectrum chain
serving Georgia and Alabama,the CFM chain in Missouri, 35 Sterling Dairy locations in Northwest Ohio, and 26 stores under various brands from Chico Enterprises of Morgantown, West Virginia.This all came after the 2005 rebranding of the various Couche-Tard stores (Mac's, Bigfoot, Dairy Mart,
and Handy Andy) under the more nationally known Circle K brand.
Circle K started to appear on
Long Island in New York in 2013 with a store inLong Beach.
Entrepreneur Fred Hervey
purchased three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas, in 1951. Hervey renamed the stores as "Circle K Food Stores, Inc."
rather than "Kay". He grew the Circle K chain into neighboring New Mexico and Arizona, which has been the
company's home base since 1957 (Hervey would go on to serve two terms as mayor of El
According to the Circle K
website, Circle K grew its retail network through a series of acquisitions conducted during the next few decades,
which were incorporated into the Circle K brand. By 1975, there were 1,000 Circle K stores across the US. In 1979,
Circle K entered the international market when a licensing agreement established the first Circle K stores in
Japan; Circle K stores in Japan are run by the Circle K SunkusCorporation, which licenses the Circle K brand from Alimentation
Couche-Tard. In 1983, the number of stores increased to 2,180 with the purchase of the
960-store UtoteM chain.
The Thirst Buster fountain drink
was introduced in 1983. It is one of Circle K's flagship products today. Now known as "Polar Pop" in many areas,
Circle K advertises that customers can buy any size for just a single price. The Polar Pop brand is also used at
Karl Eller, a prominent Phoenix businessman, served as the company's CEO from 1983 to 1990.
During that time, Eller built Circle K into the second largest convenience store operation and the largest
publicly owned convenience store chain in the U.S. with 4,631 stores in 32 states and an additional 1,300 or
so licensed or joint venture stores in 13 foreign countries. Under Eller's leadership, the company grew from
annual sales of $747 million to over $3 billion.
In 1988, the company sent a
letter to its over 8,000 employees announcing that it will cut off the medical coverage of those who become sick or
injured as a result of AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse or self-inflicted wounds. The company stated thatThere are certain
lifestyle decisions that we are just not going to assure the results of.
Fortunes declined in the late
1980s as the US economy began to slow down, and Circle K filed forChapter 11bankruptcyprotection in May 1990; Eller resigned as CEO. Some underperforming
locations were sold or closed. In 1993 the company was purchased byInvestcorp, an international investment group, and emerged from
In 1996, Circle K was acquired
by Tosco Corporation, an independent petroleum refiner and marketer, but kept its
headquarters in Phoenix. Tosco was purchased in 2001 by Phillips Petroleum, which in 2002 merged with Conoco
to form ConocoPhillips. In 2003, Circle K was purchased by Alimentation Couche-Tard (a large convenience store operator based in the
Montreal area) for US$804 million.
Taiwan's OK Convenience Store chain terminated its franchise agreement with
In mid-2006, Alimentation
Couche-Tard entered into a franchising agreement with ConocoPhillips to brand some of its company-owned stores as
Circle K, in the western portion of the US. ConocoPhillips remodeled the stores into the Circle K scheme but
continued to operate them. The stores continued to have the new ConocoPhillips unified canopy design and ProClean
gasolines. These stores were spun off as Phillips 66 in May 2012.
company, Canada-based Irving Oil, leased out its convenience stores operating under the Bluecanoe and Mainway banners in the
United States and Atlantic Canada to Couche-Tard, which rebranded the locations to Circle K in July 2008,
while still selling Irving-branded fuel. However, the Mainways in New foundland and Labrador did not change until summer 2010. The parties had earlier formed a
similar partnership in Quebec, with the stores there operated as
In April 2009,
ExxonMobil sold 43 Phoenix, Arizona stores to parent company Couche-Tard as part of a sale of the
larger On the
Run franchise. These 43
stores are to be rebranded under the Circle K name.
On February 10, 2014 Modelo
Group Sold the Tiendas Extra brand of stores to the Mexican franchise of Circle K, Circulo
In July 2010, Circle K had
dropped down to fourth rank in number of stores (3,455), behind 7-Eleven (6,523 stores), BP (4,730 stores) and Shell (4,630 convenience stores) in 2010.
On December 18, 2014; Quebec
based Alimentation Couche-Tard, the parent company of Circle K, has announced its acquisition of "The
Pantry, Inc." for $860 million all cash tender. The acquisition is expected to close in March
2015.Alimentation Couche-Tard operates more than 10,000 stores in the USA and multiple countries
under the Circle K banner. The newly combined company will increase Couche-Tard's presence in the Southeast and
Gulf Coast. Following the closing, all 1537 Kangaroo Express stores are expected to be rebranded under the
Circle K banner.
On August 12, 2015 Circle K will
open its first five convenience stores in Costa Rica, Central America after having bought and rebranded the local
convenience store chain Delimart.
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