Canadian convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard completed its purchase of Circle K stores from ConocoPhillips on Wednesday leaving 100 people out of work in the chain’s Tempe headquarters.
Most of the jobs lost are in store-support functions, said Circle K spokeswoman Julie Igo. Another 400 Tempe employees who handle accounting, payroll, information technology and franchising operations for Circle K have been hired by Couche-Tard and will remain in the East Valley offices, Igo said.
There are no further staff cuts planned, she said, and the new parent plans to leave Circle K headquartered in Tempe.
The 100 workers were not actually fired. ConocoPhillips said in October when it agreed to sell its Circle K retail operation to the Montreal-based company for approximately $804 million, that all the Circle K employees would be “off ConocoPhillips payroll,” after the sale is completed. Couche-Tard executive vice president Real Plourde said at that the Canadian company planned to hire back many of them, especially those who worked at the company-owned stores.
“We at Couche-Tard are very impressed with the level of competence and dedication of the Circle K senior management and employees," Couche-Tard CEO Alain Bouchard said in a statement Wednesday. “Now that we are all members of the same company, we will work hand-in-hand to make Couche-Tard/Circle K the best convenience store company in North America.”
Igo said Couche-Tard plans to invest money to grow the Circle K chain.
The Canadian company became the fourth largest convenience store retailer in North America with 4,630 stores after picking up the Circle K’s. Couche-Tard, which loosely translates from the French as "night owl," already operates stores in the Midwestern United States under the Mac’s, Handy Andy and Dairy Mart banners.
Circle K has survived more than a half-century of ups and downs. Founded in El Paso, Texas, in 1951 when Fred Hervey purchased three Kay’s Food Stores, the company expanded into Arizona in 1957, adopting the Circle K name.
Connecticut-based oil company Tosco Corp. bought Circle K for $900 million in 1996, forming Tosco Marketing Co. in Phoenix. In 1998, the company moved to a new campus in Tempe and sales topped $2 billion.
In 2001, Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips Petroleum Co. bought Tosco Corp. for $7 billion. Phillips chairman Jim Mulva said the company would shed retail stores and focus on oil, gas and refining operations. The company unloaded the stores in several batches before merging with Houston-based Conoco in 2002.