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Alimentation Couche-Tard CEO says company is “recession resistant”

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ATDb.TO) CEO, Brian Hannasch, says his global business, which includes 15,000 gas-and-go convenience stores, isn’t recession proof. But it is “recession resistant.”

“When we look at our geographies today, we got a global downturn in crude prices,” he told BNN. “In some ways that’s been a big positive for our customer. The math is somewhere around $1,000 per household . . . We [also] have exposure to Alberta here in Canada, and to Norway. Certainly we are seeing those areas become a little more depressed.”

The Laval, Quebec-based company operates the largest independent network of convenience stores in the U.S., with more than 8,000 locations across North America. It also has a broad retail network in Scandinavia, the Baltics, and Russia. Much of that presence comes from the company being able to manage an aggressive acquisition strategy.

Couche-Tard’s ability to acquire independent and regional convenience stores around the world stems from its knack for cutting costs and maintaining massive buying power. And Hannasch said the stability gained from a diverse global footprint will allow Couch-Tard to continue its shopping spree.

“It’s part of our DNA,” said Hannasch. “We are ready. Whether that be in the U.S., in Canada, or overseas. We are very disciplined. That’s been our track record, and that’s what we will continue to do.”

Couche-Tard’s estimated €450 million ($683 million Canadian) bid for Irish fuel chain Topaz’ network of 444 filling stations was approved by European regulators Monday. The company has completed 47 acquisitions since 2003, and shows no signs of slowing down its M&A action.

Shares have increased more than 7,000 percent since 2000.

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