BREWER, Maine — Circle K, which is owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., is taking ownership of the convenience stores now operated by Dead River Co.
“We’re not closing them; we’re selling them,” Alan Dorr, general manager for procurement at Dead River’s South Portland headquarters, said Thursday morning.
Dead River decided to get out of the convenience store business after about 40 years to better focus on selling home heating fuels and the installation and servicing of heating units, he said.
“The sale of our 19 convenience stores will allow us to expand our core business — the sale and distribution of heating oil and propane” and providing associated services, Dorr said in an email sent Friday.
Circle K officials have agreed to offer jobs to many of the 300 or so employees at the Maine stores that will change ownership, he said.
“Our plan is to have very limited interruptions in service,” Dorr said. “Stores will be closed several hours the night before the transition occurs” and will reopen shortly afterward.
Circle K, launched in El Paso, Texas, in 1951, went through a mid-1980s bankruptcy and ownership changes before Couche-Tard of Laval, Quebec, intervened in 2003 and acquired the Circle K chain from ConocoPhillips for $804 million.
Couche-Tard, which has more than 6,000 stores, is the largest independent convenience store operator in Canada and the second-largest in North America, surpassed only by 7-Eleven.
The Canadian company operates many of its stores in Canada under the brand name Couche-Tard, which is French for “goes to bed late” and features a winking owl on its signs, but also has stores all over North America operating under On the Run, Mac’s, Circle K and other names.
Couche-Tard is no stranger to Maine. The company signed a 20-year deal in 2008 with Saint John, New Brunswick’s Irving Oil Ltd. to operate 252 convenience stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Canada under the Circle K name.
A message requesting comment to the Circle K regional office in Chicago was not immediately returned Thursday.
The sale and switchover is scheduled to occur in December, and the sale price is not being released at this point, Dorr said.