Friday, February 10, 2006

Mac's owner gets great press in current Forbes

BTW, I didn't know that 7-Eleven was now owned by Japanese. See what happens when a Dallas girl moves away from home?

Smokes and Sandwiches

On a crisp day in Montreal a coffeehouse crowd types into Wi-Fi-enabled laptops on impeccably clean wooden tables. At Starbucks, right? Nope, at a cigarettes-and-chips convenience store.

“I don’t want to be similar to everybody,” says Alain Bouchard, head of this surprisingly lively corner-store chain, US$8.7 billion (fiscal 2005 sales) Alimentation Couche-Tard. “Here in Canada we have changed the rules.”

Now Bouchard has brought his Quebec venture to the U.S., where it is little known, at least under the quaint name of the parent company (French for night owl). But his stores are hard to ignore. Since 2001 he has added nearly 3,000 of them south of the border, with most of the outlets acquired when he beat out five other bidders to get ConocoPhillips’ Circle K for $830 million in 2003. More deals are in the works.

. . . Bouchard has been rejiggering convenience stores since he stocked his first shelf at 19 at his brother’s franchised Perrette store in Bois-des-Filion, Quebec. He spent five years laying out new stores as the chain expanded. Then he tried his hand as a franchisee for another Quebec operator, Provi-Soir, but chafed at the corporate mandates. With three partners he began what would be Couche-Tard. In two decades it owned the biggest share, 14%, of Canada’s market.

Now I know why there's a little owl on the Mac's logo.

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