No deal, but Carrefour and Couche-Tard to focus on operational partnerships

Date : 18 January 2021

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Having entered in preliminary discussions around a potential transaction, these have now ended, with Carrefour and Couche-Tard switching their focus to explore opportunities for operational partnerships.

Opposition to any deal

The discussions had been initiated by Couche-Tard’s “friendly approach” to Carrefour with the objective of acquiring the France-based retailer. However, these discussions have ended almost as quickly as they began, with the French government’s opposition to any potential deal, including concerns around the security of food supply and protecting jobs, cited as the main issues.

Source: Couche-Tard

Five areas to focus on

However, the retailers will explore opportunities for operational partnerships in several areas: 

  • Sharing best practices in fuel retailing
  • Combining purchasing volumes
  • Private label development
  • Innovating the customer journey
  • Optimising product distribution in their overlapping networks

Unexpected approach

Couche-Tard’s interest in acquiring Carrefour caught most industry observers by surprise. Although it is one the largest convenience and fuel retailers globally, it has no experience in hypermarkets and supermarkets, which account for most of Carrefour’s operations. However, it is an experienced deal maker and value creator, having acquired several large convenience store chains in the US and Europe, successfully integrating them into its business.

Other potential deals may emerge

The discussions have propelled Couche-Tard onto the global stage. Despite its presence across North America, nine European countries and 16 other countries through licensing agreements, it has maintained a relatively low profile. However, its interest in acquiring Carrefour demonstrates the scale of its intent, which could lead to the unearthing of other potential deals beyond its core convenience focus.

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