Friday 23 February 2018

Topaz to rebrand as owner pumps €25m into Irish unit

Couche-Tard owns the Topaz forecourt network here. Stock Image
Couche-Tard owns the Topaz forecourt network here. Stock Image
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Alimentation Couche-Tard has injected more than €25m into its Circle K holding company in Ireland.

Couche-Tard owns the Topaz forecourt network here, which it will rebrand as Circle K.

The Canadian company acquired Topaz from businessman Denis O'Brien in 2015, paying €258m in cash and also assuming debt. The total enterprise value of the sale, including that debt, is thought to have been in the region of €450m.

Company filings show that Circle K Ireland Holding received the cash injection in April from a Quebec-based unit of Couche-Tard.

Topaz, which has 430 forecourts here, announced last month that it's investing €6m to introduce a new fuel brand in Ireland, called Miles.

Couche-Tard operates about 2,700 fuel forecourts throughout Europe. In Norway, Sweden and Denmark it rebranded Statoil stations as Circle K.

In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia, its stations currently operate as Statoil, and still trade as Topaz in Ireland.

Couche-Tard has said that all those forecourts will eventually be rebranded as Circle K.

In an interview this week, Circle K's vice president for Central and Eastern Europe, and Ireland, Jorn Madsen, said that the rebranding of Couche-Tard's Polish outlets will be completed in March next year.

Irish group DCC is also establishing itself as a player in Europe's retail forecourt sector, and now has about 1,000 sites in countries such as France, Denmark and Sweden.

There are about 140,000 forecourt sites across Europe.

DCC has acquired networks from Esso and Shell. Earlier this year, it agreed to buy an Esso network in Norway.

But incoming DCC CEO Donal Murphy told the Irish Independent yesterday that the group has no plans to develop its own brand.

"A huge differentiator between ourselves and Couche-Tard is that we're a partner to the big international oil companies," he said.

"We want to build our business on the back of their brands. We want to build the Esso brand. We want to build the Shell brand."

He said that over time, DCC would also welcome opportunities to work with some of the other oil majors to build out their brands.

"We run a multi-branded business and build the brand presence in the market for the oil companies," he added.

"It's distinctly different to the Couche-Tard business, where they're buying and changing and running under their own brand. That positions us well if the oil company wants to keep their brand in the market, they're less likely to sell to a Couche-Tard and more likely to sell to us."

Irish Independent

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