Failed French grocery store deal unlikely to dampen ambitions of Canada’s Bouchard

By Allison Lampert and Kevin Dougherty

MONTREAL/QUEBEC Town (Reuters) – Political opposition that killed Canadian benefit shop operator Alimentation Couche-Tard’s $20 billion bid for French retailer Carrefour on Friday is unlikely to stop the worldwide ambitions of founder Alain Bouchard.

The lower-profile Canadian businessman constructed Couche-Tard from a single retail outlet in Quebec in 1980 to a world-wide community of ease shops and gas stations with a market place price of $33 billion, with 66 acquisitions together the way.

French politicians gave a robust ‘non’ to the proposed choose-over, calling it a make any difference of countrywide foodstuff protection. Guiding the scenes, Bouchard manufactured a misstep by not supplying an early heads up to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who was really upset to discover about the offer from the media, a supply familiar with the matter explained to Reuters.

Bouchard, 72, who served as Couche-Tard’s chief government for 25 a long time till 2014, commenced in organization soon after finding out challenging classes as a little one when his father, a subcontractor, went bankrupt.

“Couche-Tard is a grasp at converting pounds invested on gasoline on dollars used on meals and ease retail outlet items,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Foods Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

“You fill up your car or truck with gasoline and then you go get a sandwich, newspaper and cigarettes.”

But a world go towards electrical motor vehicles would sooner or later disrupt that model, Charlebois noted, including the Carrefour acquisition could possibly be a way for the retailer to diversify its approach.

Bouchard, the recent government chairman of the corporation, declined to be interviewed for this story.


The Quebec chain grew in Canada by means of the 1980s and 1990s before earning its massive crack into the fragmented U.S. market in the early 2000s, attaining 1st the property of Johnson Oil Co, and then Circle K Corp. The moment, when a banker advised he was way too bold, Bouchard switched financial institutions, in accordance to a nearby media report.

Alain Bouchard is “an entrepreneurial hero, a self-created male, self-educated guy,” his buddy Mitch Garber, who headed Montreal-primarily based Cirque du Soleil, stated.

Garber isn’t going to get the French minister’s arguments, contacting them “a extend”.

“If Carrefour was earning weapons for the French military I would realize,” he said. “They market groceries.”

In spite of the unlimited quantity of acquisitions, the enterprise has retained its entrepreneurial solution to organization, a best-10 shareholder of Couche-Tard stated.

Couche-Tard has missed specials before and appeared for much more.

Couche-Tard Chief Govt Brian Hannasch informed Fortune in August “there will be extra action brought about by the pandemic,” after the demise of a prepared $5.6 billion acquisition of petrol station operator Caltex Australia in April.

Bouchard, who relaxes with opera and presents to the arts and culture, the intellectually disabled, education and wellbeing treatment, retains some solid shareholder assistance.

“It can be a little bit of a head scratcher,” the best-10 shareholder in Couche-Tard claimed, pointing to the small overlap in conditions of the two business enterprise product and geographic location. But history is a guideline for buyers. “There is surely a scenario to be manufactured that these guys have a terrific, fantastic keep track of history.”

($1 = 1.2732 Canadian dollars)

(More reporting by Maiya Keida in Toronto, Pamela Barbaglia in London and Gwénaëlle Barzic in Paris Writing by Denny Thomas Enhancing by Peter Henderson and Jacqueline Wong)