Frank Reuter, Vice President Circle K Luxembourg; Credit: Circle K Luxembourg has reached out to Sofie Maene, Head of HR, HSEQ and Corporate Communications at Circle K, to inquire further about the recent acquisition of certain European retail assets from TotalEnergies, more specifically in Luxembourg.

Circle K was founded in 1951 in El Paso, Texas, in the United States. The company operates globally as a subsidiary of Couche-Tard, a convenience and fuel retail business. As of February 2020, Circle K had around 2700 locations in Europe. More recently, TotalEnergies sold 100% of its networks to Couche-Tard in Germany and the Netherlands, while the two companies formed a joint venture (TotalEnergies 40%, Couche-Tard 60%) in Belgium and Luxembourg. Why is the Luxembourg market important for Circle K? Is it part of a European expansion, or is the reason more strategic?

Sofie Maene: This acquisition is an opportunity to strengthen the presence of the Alimentation Couche-Tard Group in Europe. Couche-Tard is the company name while Circle K is the global station network brand. In Luxembourg, TotalEnergies is one of the market leaders, which was an important factor in the transaction involving 60% of TotalEnergies Marketing Luxembourg’s Network & Cards business. What percentage of TotalEnergies Luxembourg shares has Circle K purchased? Or have you rather “merged” the two companies for the time being?

Sofie Maene: This acquisition includes a 60% controlling interest for Circle K in the entities in Luxembourg for network and card sales (joint venture - JV). With TotalEnergies being a French company, and Circle K being a North American company, how will this affect the operations in Luxembourg?

Sofie Maene: In the beginning – no changes, the local leadership and station network will serve local customers in the same way as before. But country management now reports to Circle K in Europe whose leadership sits in Oslo, Norway, and a gradual integration and rebranding starts now and will go on in the next months and years. The underlying difference between Circle K and TotalEnergies - that will affect the staff over the coming years - is that TotalEnergies is an integrated energy company while Circle K is a retail specialist. It will be more of a gradual change in culture in terms of company origin, language, values, and core business,  with our new employer being a leader in convenience. How will the petrol stations be rebranded? Will it be simply replacing the signage and logos, or will it be more fundamental?

Sofie Maene: The shops will gradually be renamed Circle K and be upgraded to new formats with adapted local products and services, while fuel and forecourts will remain TotalEnergies for at least five years. What changes can customers expect?

Sofie Maene: From day one customers will be served, and loyalty programs will be operated as before, all the benefits that our customers could gather before will still be the same. Rebranding stations, introducing new Circle K concepts and customer offers and most practical changes will come gradually over the coming months and years. Will Circle K in Luxembourg be purchasing supplies from different sources (than TotalEnergies were) regarding both fuel and convenience store stock?

Sofie Maene: The station network in Luxembourg will continue to operate under the TotalEnergies brand following the acquisition. The fuel forecourts will be TotalEnergies branded and supplied for at least the next five years. The supply agreements for non-fuel categories are the same from day one, we depend on many great suppliers, but supply chains will be revised and renewed gradually. The aim will be for the Circle K team in Luxembourg to develop the best possible offer together with the best suppliers, but it’s too early to say what the outcome will be.