Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board
When I opened my first store four decades ago, I was optimistic about our future success. But I could not have imagined the structure and scale of today’s Couche-Tard! Our roots in a bilingual and multicultural society helped us create a unique business model which balances rigorous, disciplined organizational methods and practices with an open, confident and respectful culture that encourages local operations to flourish.
Over the last four decades, Couche-Tard has undergone three major transformations, emerging stronger each time. First, from a string of convenience stores, without fuel, open 7 a.m. to
11 p.m., we grew into a network with fuel, pioneering 24/7 service. When regulations allowed grocery stores to expand their business hours, Couche-Tard positioned itself, in our second transformation, as a convenience company that sells time, with products for immediate needs and an increasingly recognized brand. In our third transformation, we developed our network in Canada, then into the US and Europe, creating the decentralized business model that drives our success to this day.
With each transformation, we showcased our competitive strengths and truly established our stores as destinations through convenience, proximity and the time we offer customers. In the last year, the astounding growth rate of new technology has been driving the direction of our fourth transformation, which we are entering as we implement digital systems that will integrate big data and artificial intelligence. It’s an exciting time to be a retailer!
Millennials are a key demographic for us, both as customers and employees—a generation that influences us and forces us to evolve like no other before it. We are listening to them; customer insights are the wind under our wings in our quest to be the world’s preferred destination for convenience and fuel.
Our food offering is constantly evolving to meet tastes and needs throughout our network. Sometimes, super-local ideas can even become super-global successes through our company-wide knowledge exchange and consumer feedback! This year saw many examples from Europe, including Ireland, and from our CST and Holiday acquisitions in North America.
We learn constantly from consumer behaviour. We are creative and nimble, presenting consumers with new choices and services, when they are ready to adopt them. Our ability to target the tipping point where our innovations meet consumer behavioural change has been key to our success.
Accelerating change affects us all. From Boomer social media mavens to teenage YouTube stars, the digital age encompasses everyone and opens up entirely new possibilities for personalization and customization, to woo individuals and to make them feel valued. We will explore all these possibilities, with initiatives that include robotics, artificial intelligence and loyalty programs.
Together, our teams, our expertise, our culture and our scale equip us to turn these new challenges into success stories in the exciting and ever-changing world of retail. We will continue to grow both organically and through acquisitions, while exercising the outstanding creativity and financial discipline that have delivered on the company’s promise through the decades and transformations. All this translates into increasing value for our shareholders, and wonderful new growth opportunities for our people – solid grounds for optimism!
I want to express my deepest gratitude to our customers, our people, our suppliers and our investors, all of whom make this extraordinary journey possible, every day.