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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Clean Up & Optimize

Couche-Tard to auction off 75 Circle K stores, vacant lots "that don't fit our criteria"
Source: CSP Daily News
By Steve Holtz

LAVAL, Quebec – Like the proverbial rolling stone, growth-conscious Alimentation Couche-Tard intends to shake off any moss in the form of about 75 unwanted stores by the end of the calendar year. "We're divesting some of the sites that don't fit our criteria," Butch Seber, vice president of real estate and development for Couche-Tard, told CSP Daily News. "We've gone through a number of acquisitions over the last few years and have operated the stores for some time. Now we're trying to optimize our network and clean up our portfolio."

As reported in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterday, the Laval, Quebec-based company has retained NRC Realty Advisors LLC, Chicago, to handle the proposed divestiture of the approximately 75 Circle K-branded locations over the coming months.

The final list of properties to be divested has not been established, but is expected to include properties in various markets in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The majority of the sites include the real estate, while others are leasehold interest. The portfolio includes operating stores, a few closed locations that have been taken out of industry and vacant land.

"It's a mixed bag," said Seber. "There's some adjacent land to operating stores that is excess land. There are some [sites] that have been closed down and taken out of industry for a variety of reasons; maybe we had an acquisition were we added another store across the street or down the road. There are some underperforming sites in there. And there are some sites that probably have a higher and better use."

Seber added that the stores could be auctioned as soon as late September, with the goal of selling all the sites by the end of the year.

"This is a normal process of optimizing the portfolio of sites that do not complement our network on a strategic point of view. This process takes place over time and is a result of the numerous acquisitions that have occurred over the last several years. The main difference this time around is that we have decided to retain external assistance and expertise," Seber said, adding that he is pleased to be working with NRC.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Circle K on this project," said Denny Ruben, managing director of NRC. "Given the recent success and interest in similar locations, these sites should generate a great deal of interest among potential buyers."

NRC Realty A