Circle K and Corner Stores Merger/Acquisition

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Circle K and Corner Stores Merger/Acquisition - Impact on and Perception of Customers and Investors

In the wake of the merger/acquisition of Circle K and Corner Stores, the below perception of investors and customers followed the merger/acquisition, along with some notable impacts, some of which are in the positive and in the negative.

THE PERCEPTION OF INVESTORS

  • A spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores believes the acquisition is a result of Circle K's aggressive competition with its rival.
  • Couche-Tard CEO Brian Hannasch believes the acquisition of Corner Stores will come with a strategic value that will ultimately improve the network of Circle K.
  • The CEO is also of the opinion of the emergence of new opportunities owing to the expertise and experience that will be deployed by Circle K.
  • Going forward, investors and analysts are of the opinion that the acquisition will afford Circle K to focus less on fuel sales and increase food sales.
  • The acquisition puts an investment company like Empire Petroleum Partners LLC on the throes of history with the following comments from its chairman, "the transaction also signals a considerable stride forward as Empire successfully executes on its acquisition goals, delivering meaningful US expansion."

THE PERCEPTION OF CUSTOMERS

  • An analyst/customer said the acquisition of Corner Stores by Circle K will provide "a leg up in the convenience store industry’s shift toward in-store sales of fresh food."
  • A customer thinks the acquisition is a 'good fit' for Circle K because the latter is more of a corporate-owned store group compared to Corner Stores' clean in-stores.
  • Another customer is worried about the fear of lack of divestitures in the Corner Stores transactions due to the avalanche of ownership of store branches by Circle K within such proximity in Louisiana, Lafayette in particular.
  • The perception of a customer in Phoenix is that the acquisition will engender the further dominance of Circle K in the area.
  • A customer is concerned about how Circle K intends to assimilate the conversion of the Corner Stores brand, believing the former does not have what it takes to fully convert the latter's customers to theirs.
  • The inconsistency in the services of Circle K across its US stores is poses concern for another customer in the wake of the acquisition.
  • A customer's perception of the acquisition is regarded as a 'hit-and-miss', believing the failure of the transaction is inevitable.

IMPACT OF THE MERGER/ACQUISITION

  • The impact of the merger/acquisition is the creation of a healthy "race to the top" competition between Circle K and 7-Eleven Inc.
  • Another expected impact expected is the strategic value Corner Stores will add to Circle K's network.
  • Due to the acquisition, Circle K will be able to avoid the volatility in the prices of gas and concentrate more on the sales of fresh foods.
  • The acquisition created the largest acquisition in the history of Empire Petroleum Partners LLC, as the latter was able to enter an asset purchase agreement with Circle K towards the acquisition of 70 Corner Store gas stations.
  • As a result of the acquisition and the consequent asset purchase agreement, Empire's geographic reach was expanded in the US.
  • The acquisition led to the selling off of the Canadian assets of Corner Stores and the ongoing re-branding of Corner Stores across all locations.
  • One of the major impacts of this merger/acquisition is the tendency of creating a monopoly, as already expressed in areas such as Louisiana and Phoenix.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We went on with this research by breaking it into three segments: investors' perception, customers' perception, and the impact of the merger/acquisition.

For the investors' perception, we examined some narratives and comments from industry leaders like the CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard and the Chairman of Empire board of members, along with a top personality like the spokesman of the National Association of Convenience Stores to form our investors' perception of the acquisition.

We dived into the customers' perception by looking at the various opinions of customers in their feedback to a trend started by another customer in the wake of the merger/acquisition between Circle K and Corner Stores.

Lastly, we examined reports from news sites like CSP Daily News, Biz Journals, among others, to determine the positive and negative impacts generated by the merger/acquisition.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Circle K and Corner Stores Merger/Acquisition - Impact on and Perception of Employees

Insights and analysis into how employees perceived and have been impacted by the merger/acquisition of Circle K and Corner Stores have been provided below.

ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT/PERCEPTION ON EMPLOYEES

  • Although there was the indication that employees of Corner Stores would not be affected by the merger/acquisition, a few top executives were let go and as a result, there was job loss within the period of the takeover.
  • As a result of the merger/acquisition, Kim Lubel (the former CEO) was fired due to losses suffered from the volatility of gas prices and increased profits from merchandise and services within the first quarter of 2017 just before the takeover.
  • It can be perceived that the merger/acquisition led to the loss of the best brains (Lubel) in the acquired company whose team made a 2.5% profit boost from what the company earned within the same period of the previous year.
  • The merger/acquisition created a void in the camaraderie that existed between employees, as Lubel expressed the difficulty of her departure after the completion of the takeover. The same applies to Hal Adams.
  • Despite all the setbacks mentioned as created by the merger/acquisition, the job loss created came with a big compensation plan for one of the top employees who was expected might have received "about $13.4 million in severance pay, restricted stock, and options and benefits in connection with the merger."
  • The merger/acquisition also saw to the compensation of executive officers "through short-term cash incentives tied to performance and through long-term incentives of stock options and restricted stock units," aside from their salaries and health benefits.
  • The merger/acquisition also saw the retention of a vast majority of the employees of Corner Stores that numbered about 14,000 at the time of the takeover.
  • Another impact felt and the perception left on the employees is that they are part of the future the new company is forging ahead to. Couche-Tard CEO Brian Hannasch noted that the new employees "will all become part of our journey to become the world's preferred destination for convenience and fuel."
  • The impact on and the perception of employees are also hinged on the propensity to grow in career sustainability and improvement, as Circle K was willing to bring in new expertise and experience to consolidate the company's growth and diversify along the way.
  • Between the time of the merger/acquisition of Circle K and Corner Stores, the former had expanded its stores to more than 16,000 worldwide by September 2018, compared to the 14,000 it had with the inclusion of Corner Stores in June 2017. This milestone encourages the positive perception of employees on their jobs.

INSIGHTS THAT OFFER A COMBINATION OF IMPACT AND PERCEPTION

  • Luble's departure created no misgivings, as reports didn't know if she left on her own or she was terminated.
  • The departure of Hal Adams too created no misgivings, as his departure was full of admiration for his former colleagues.
  • The compensation received by incumbent executive officers and the former CEO tend to create a lasting impression on the employees and impact their performance on the job.
  • The retention of about 14,000 employees after the merger/acquisition is no mean feat, and this is bound to impact the opinion of employees about their new employer.
  • The market share control and dominance of Circle K in the industry provides a good incentive to stay with the company, rather than seek employment with another competitor that may eventually be acquired by Circle K.
  • Another insight offering both the impact and perception of employees is the successful history of the company in terms of acquisitions and growth.
  • The emphasis by Couche-Tard CEO that new employees are part of the future they are building is enough to create a positive perception of the brand in the minds of employees.
  • The Couche-Tard CEO also made promises of recruiting experts and experienced employees for the new journey of the company.
  • The fact that Corner Store's Twitter handle didn't receive a backlash when it 'proudly' announced the takeover in 2017 suggests a welcoming reception of the employees to the merger/acquisition.
  • The positive attitude of a current employee with Circle K, who was a former employee of Corner Stores, is another insight worthy of consideration in viewing the impact and perception of the merger/acquisition on the employees.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We started this research by attempting to evaluate the opinions of the old staff of Corner Stores in regards the merger/acquisition. We tried checking the company's website but got redirected to the website of Circle K. The latter didn't have information on its employees.

We, therefore, went on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. From the narratives, opinions, comments, and replies posted by the old staff of Corner Stores on their Twitter timelines after the merger/acquisition, we were able to form understand the impact the takeover had on the employees. Other news releases (CS News, kfoxtv) and reports (Seeking Galpha, MySanAntonio) further laid credence to the conclusions of our research.








Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "a leg up in the convenience store industry’s shift toward in-store sales of fresh food."
Quotes
  • "the transaction also signals a considerable stride forward as Empire successfully executes on its acquisition goals, delivering meaningful U.S. expansion, along with increased scale and synergies, to significantly enhance our competitive position as a leading U.S. motor fuels distributor."