Alain Bouchard named 2012 CEO of the Year
Many Canadian companies have failed to expand their brands outside the country, but Alain Bouchard has managed to take a Canadian retailer farther around the world than any other, in the process building one of the largest convenience store chains in the world.
His leadership in growing Laval, Que.-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. from a single dépanneur in Saint Jérôme, Que., into an international network of 12,000 stores (including licensees) with revenues of more than $19.2-billion last year is a big reason why he’s been named Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year for 2012, an award presented by Bennett Jones, founding sponsor Caldwell Partners and media sponsor National Post. “We are delighted to honour Mr. Bouchard and Alimentation Couche-Tard with this distinguished award,” said Hugh MacKinnon, chairman and CEO of Bennett Jones, and an Advisory Board member of Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year. “This is truly an innovative international success story that serves as a tremendous example of Canadian entrepreneurial spirit and achievement. We are proud to have Mr. Bouchard as our 2012 CEO of the Year.” Mr. Bouchard, born in Chicoutimi, Que., in 1949, endured some trying years as a young boy after his father lost his job. But the family’s misfortunes helped make him the success he is today.
“Even at 10, I dreamed of owning a big building with a big B on the side of it. B for Bouchard,” the entrepreneur told Financial Post Magazine. “This was a childhood dream, but I was consumed by it for a long time. I wanted to build something strong so I wasn’t at risk of losing everything like my father did.” He has certainly done that and more. After working for Perrette Dairy Ltée, and Provigo, he founded Alimentation Couche-Tard in 1980, eventually buying out his two former employers along with a host of other companies, notably Silcorp Ltd., which owned 980 stores operating under the Mac’s, Mike’s Mart and Beckers banners in Ontario and Western Canada, and in 2003 The Circle K Corp. from ConocoPhillips Co., which at the time operated 1,663 Circle K corporate stores in the U.S. and had franchising or licensing relationships with 627 additional stores in the U.S. and worldwide.
This year, Mr. Bouchard pulled the trigger on the company’s biggest acquisition yet, spending US$2.6-billion for Norway’s Statoil Fuel & Retail ASA operations, a broad retail network of approximately 2,300 stores across Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltics and Russia. Couche-Tard shares have grown almost 64% in the past year, closing Monday at $49.75. But while a large part of the company’s success has been due to its growth strategy, it’s also managed to drive double-digit earnings increases and same-store sales growth even in an economy that’s slowing down.
Mr. Bouchard chalks that up to the company’s focus on bringing unique products and services into its network of stores.
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