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Circle K owner invests $50m in retail innovation

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. says it has invested half of its $100m Circle K Venture Fund in start-ups exploring the future of retail convenience

A Circle K store in Colorado Springs, USA | Photo credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 



Circle K owner Alimentation Couche-Tard has invested more than $50m in start-up firms exploring the future of retail convenience. The Canadian company, which controls the Couche-Tard and Ingo quick-service businesses, has taken a stake in several companies exploring the optimisation of customer experience through delivery, artificial intelligence and in-store data gathering.
 
Launched in 2020, the $100m Circle K Venture Fund recently invested in US-based Food Rocket and Farmstead and is working with the companies to test approaches to suburban food and beverage delivery.
 
The fund has also invested in Pensa Systems, a company specialising in in-store data gathering using artificial intelligence, and Jackpocket, the first licensed-third party app in the US providing an easy and secure way to order official state lottery tickets.
 
According to a press release Couche-Tard is also exploring how technology can help alleviate staff shortages in the US by tapping into the gig economy.
 
“The evolution of our customers' convenience needs has accelerated over the past two years since the start of the pandemic, and these investments and partnerships allow us not only to participate in the growth of these innovative teams, but also to explore ways to add real value for our customers, shareholders, and team members,” said Claude Tessier, CEO, Couche-Tard.
 
“As we move forward on our strategic goals, the Fund supports cutting-edge solutions with the potential of improving the customer journey and the experience of our team members in our stores, to create new ways of delivering our products and presenting our offerings, and to change the very nature of convenience,”  Tessier added.
 
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. operates 14,200 convenience, quick service, and petrol station outlets in North America, Europe and Asia through its Circle K, Couche-Tard and Ingo quick-service businesses.
 
Circle K is one of the largest convenience brands with a coffee offer North America, with more 6,300 stores across the US.
 
Circle K’s ‘Sip & Save’ beverage subscription currently offers customers a coffee or cold beverage every day over a 30-day period for $5.99.
 
In February 2022, Circle K opened concept stores in Dublin, Ireland, as part of its strategy to open more city centre locations.

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