OCTANE May/June 2023

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CHARGING AHEAD: C-STORE IQ EV REPORT

GROWING EAST AS IT COUNTS DOWN TO ITS 100TH SITE, B.C.-BASED CANCO IS EXPANDING IN ONTARIO

SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES AT THE CAR WASH AND THE FORECOURT MAY/JUNE 2023 CCentral.ca @CSNC_Octane PM42940023 $12.00



CONTENTS

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BRAND MANAGEMENT

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GROCERY AND CONVENIENCE, CANADA Sandra Parente (416) 271-4706 sparente@ensembleiq.com

VOLUME 28 | NUMBER 3 The Canco site on Ethel Street in Kelowna, B.C. Canco is also expanding in Ontario

EDITORIAL

EDITOR & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Michelle Warren mwarren@ensembleiq.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Daniel Real-Chin drealechine@ensembleiq.com

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ADVERTISING SALES AND BUSINESS

ACCOUNT MANAGER Jonathan Davis (705) 970-3670 jdavis@ensembleiq.com SALES COORDINATOR Juan Chacon jchacon@ensembleiq.com DESIGN | PRODUCTION | MARKETING

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Nancy Peterman npeterman@ensembleiq.com ART DIRECTOR Jackie Shipley jshipley@ensembleiq.com SENIOR PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Michael Kimpton mkimpton@ensembleiq.com MARKETING MANAGER Jakob Wodnicki jwodnicki@ensembleiq.com

ANDREW LIPSETT

SALES DIRECTOR Julia Sokolova (647) 407-8236 jsokolova@ensembleiq.com

5 What a show!

Photo highlights: The Convenience U CARWACS Show

6 The Road Ahead

Fuelling the future: Could Europe’s fuel mix be a roadmap for Canada?

8 Operator Profile

Growing east: The countdown is on, as B.C.-based Canco prepares to debut its 100th site

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Feature

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CORPORATE OFFICERS

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Jane Volland CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Derek Estey CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER Ann Jadown CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER Joe Territo SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

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A greener wash: Equipment and chemical innovations support operators’ sustainability efforts Going for green: Actionable ways to implement sustainability at your forecourt

18 C-store IQ National Shopper Study EV Report: Charging ahead STAY CURRENT

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OCTANE May | June 2023

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Equipment built to last.

Tommy Car Wash Systems® offers equipment, systems, detergent, and technology that can take your business to the next level. Connect with our sales reps today. Thanks for visiting us at The Convenience U CARWACS Show Next Stop: Meet with us at ICA in Las Vegas, NV May 7-9

Visit Tommy’s at Booth #957 tommycarwash.com 616.494.0771

©2023 Tommy’s Express, LLC 373J 1/23


MARCH 7-8: WHAT A SHOW THANK YOU! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR: MARCH 5-6, 2024

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1. Ensemble IQ’s Beth Brickel reveals new data from the 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study during day one of the two-morning conference 2. Jeff Dover of fsSTRATEGY talks foodservice 3. Editor Michelle Warren and CICC’s Anne Kothawala discuss the industry’s big issues 4. Tiina McCombie during National Energy Equipment’s Lunch & Learn 5. At the trade show with the team from Mondelēz

6. Actor and conference emcee Tara Spencer-Nairn, with speakers Daniel Tsai, a c-gas owner, lawyer and lecturer; Brickel; and Rick Penney from JTI 7. The trade show featured 50 new exhibitors 8. The team from Mars Wrigley and Kind 9. The Canadian Carwash Association panel hosted by Michael Howe 10. The team from OLG 11. Canada’s largest convenience, gas and car wash event

ConvenienceU.ca | CARWACS.com


THE ROAD AHEAD BY MARK HACKING

Fuelling the future

Could Europe’s fuel mix be a roadmap for Canada?

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A compressed natural gas refuelling system in Italy. Canada is investing $6 million to install six CNG refuelling stations along the Trans-Canada Highway

Canada and good for our democratic allies around the world. It’s also important to balance or tip the scales, depending on your perspective, edging democratic nations ahead of countries that embrace some tinpot dictator. Returning focus to the European Union, it’s an interesting market to consider. It’s clearly dependent on foreign sources of fuel and it’s also transitioning to alternative fuels faster than in many other parts of the world, including North America. So, the trajectory of fuel usage in the EU could indicate where things are headed over here within the next five years or so. As we went to press, the EU walked back part of its plan to ban sales of all new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles starting in 2035. A last-minute carve-out appeared in the form of ICE vehicles that run on carbon-neutral fuels, also known as e-fuels, which we covered in a previous issue of OCTANE.

This late revision was championed by Germany, no surprise given that three key manufacturers of highperformance cars are BMW, MercedesBenz and Porsche. An earlier carve-out also allows niche manufacturers that produce fewer than 1,000 vehicles per year to be powered by petroleum products. But the writing was already on the wall, so many European consumers have already abandoned ICE vehicles. From April to June 2022, combined sales of gasoline and diesel passenger cars went from 62.0% market share to 55.8%. That’s a huge drop-off. In this same quarter, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounted for 9.9% of total passenger car sales, while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) captured 8.7% of the market. Sales of vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) plunged by 62.9% across the EU, while another alternative fuel source, liquefied

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Here in Canada, we’re ridiculously spoiled in terms of natural resources. According to statistics from the end of 2021, our country ranks fourth in the world—behind only Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia—with US $33.2 trillion in natural resource value. The rest of the top 10? In descending order, there’s Iran in fifth, followed by China, Brazil, Australia, Iraq and Venezuela. From the perspective of political stability, it’s almost like the rogues’ gallery of nations. Or maybe the axis of gases. What statistics like these reveal is that—by default—strong, democratic countries such as Canada bear the responsibility of fuelling the planet, in case things go sideways in any of the other top-10 countries. Like political instability in Brazil, Iran, Venezuela or Iraq. Or like Russia deciding to invade another sovereign nation. As a result of Putin’s errant decision to make war with Ukraine, the flow of oil around the world has completely changed. At the end of January 2022, most of the oil imported to the European Union, 31%, came from Russia; by the end of the year, the United States had taken over the top spot as the biggest exporter of oil to the EU. The EU has also turned to America and other nations for their natural gas. The Russian share of natural gas imports to Europe was 31% in the first quarter of 2022 but has since fallen off a cliff. Norway is now the biggest supplier of natural gas to the EU, followed closely by the United States. What this means for Canada is that our leaders need to accept the responsibility for governing our vast natural resources and developing them in an environmentally responsible way. This is an end goal that’s good for

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Serving the Canadian Retail Petroleum / Convenience Industry for over 35 Years

alternative sources of fuel, such as CNG, LPG and e-fuel. As a country blessed with tremendous natural resources, it’s our job to provide friendly nations with support for their own transportation needs, while still mapping out the best path forward for Canadians. OCTANE Mark Hacking is an award-winning editor/writer with an affinity for all things automotive. He contributes to leading publications in Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the U.S. His new column, The Road Ahead, will be a regular feature in OCTANE.

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stations are more plentiful than CNG stations— in fact, there are 617 locations already up and running. This fact gives LPG a significant advantage over all other sources of alternative fuel in terms of infrastructure. Widespread adoption of, for example, hydrogen-powered vehicles or EVs is limited by infrastructure, at least for the time being. In the near term, there’s much to learn from the current situation in Europe. The increasing interest in electrification. The rapid break from relying on Russia for petroleum products. The continued push for

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petroleum gas (LPG) grew by 7.9%. Both CNG and LPG are cleanerburning fuels than gasoline or diesel, so they’re better for the environment and the air we breathe. CNG is less expensive than LPG per litre, but LPG has higher energy density. Here in Canada, the Department of Natural Resources recently announced it was investing $6 million to install six CNG refuelling stations at existing locations along the Trans-Canada Highway. With the addition of these new stations, there will be a total of 40 CNG refuelling stations in the country. By contrast, LPG refuelling

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A city bus in England, converted to CNG, produces 96% less CO2

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O P E R AT O R P R O F I L E

GROWING EAST

The countdown is on, as B.C.-based Canco prepares to debut its 100th site BY DA N I E L R E A L E - CH I N

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May | June 2023 OCTANE

The team at Canco Petroleum Ltd. is gearing up for June 29. Almost daily, since March 2, the company’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram have featured colourful images of its many locations across Canada. From the smiling face of a location manager at 228 Tranquille Rd. in Kamloops, B.C. to a yard of ruby-red tractors behind a clean forecourt in Wynyard, Sask., the photos have one thing in common: the proud blue-and-orange colours and maple leaf of Canco’s logo. “We’re doing a countdown to site 100,” Rob Laing, director of operations at Canco, says in an exclusive interview with OCTANE. For the next few weeks, the team at Canco will share photos of locations across Canada and on June 29 will unveil its 100th branded Canco gas station. Its location? Top secret says Laing—we’ll have to wait and see. What is guaranteed is that June 29 will become the inaugural Canco Day—a new initiative for the entire team, location managers, and Canco’s network of independent operators to celebrate Canco’s customers, its expansion across the country and the blue-andorange colours of Canco’s logo.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CANCO

The Quilakwa Canco in Enderby, B.C. is owned by the Splatsinac First Nation. After partnering with Canco last fall and several months of renovations, the site reopened in February 2023

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PHOTOS TOP, ANDREW LIPSETT

The Canco site in Kelowna, B.C. features a convenience store and Chillerz as part of its foodservice offering

In the span of seven short years, Canco’s bullish growth has stretched that bright blue-and-orange logo east into Ontario, where the company has been working with Fuel Partners on business development in the province for three years. Over the past couple of months Canco’s built two new locations in the Greater Toronto Area: one in North York and another in Brampton. They join 14 sites across the province: Sarnia, Grand Bend, Mitchell, Clinton, Exeter, London, St. Thomas, Fonthill, Grimsby, Hamilton, Collingwood, Nipissing, Mission and Terrace Bay. “Most of those are corporate stores,” says Laing, “but the dealer opportunity is quite massive in Ontario.” Across the country, corporate-owned stores make up about 90% of Canco’s portfolio, but, as Laing sees it, independent dealers are catching onto the privileges Canco offers. These include high-quality fuel, sourced directly from major fuel refineries and terminals in Canada; support and training; and access to Canco’s network of suppliers and distributors, along with a company that will negotiate for them. “We think that there’s an appetite out there for people

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who are tired of working with the traditional big brands to try something new working with a group that is young and hungry and not publicly traded,” says Laing. Humble beginnings Canco’s origin story began with two independent dealers and a desire to do things differently. Parmjeet Singh Sehgal and Ravinder Nijjar were working as gas jockeys, saving up enough money to buy their own c-gas site in Kamloops, B.C. That was more than 15 years ago; from there the two gas-jockeys-turned-dealers amassed enough money to buy a second store. Owning and operating two locations under a well-known banner gave the duo insights into what makes a gas station successful. “They understood that customers are number one and were really able to leverage the relationships that they built along the way; to a point where they really knew the store inside and out, and what made the store fundamentally successful,” says Laing.

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O P E R AT O R P R O F I L E

By leveraging their relationships with the terminals that were supplying the fuel they were selling, the two found out that they were able to purchase their fuel directly from the terminals. When their fuel-supply agreements expired, Sehgal and Nijjar decided it was time to make a move and launched their own brand. “We discovered that we have the ability to pick up from those same terminals, and of course, we have to pay the shipping fee, but we get to actually capture some of that profit,” says Laing. “So, we rebranded our first site in Kamloops.” Kamloops is in British Columbia’s interior. The city is situated on the banks of the North and South Thompson rivers. On one side, the city stretches across the two rivers’ shorelines, with the steep hills of the Montane Cordillera Mountain range looming overhead. According to the 2021 census, 97,902 people call Kamloops home. Among them are the cougars and bears that inhabit the British Columbia Wildlife Park just east of town. The city calls itself Canada’s Tournament Capital and, according to the city’s tourism board, it hosts more than 100 tournaments each year at its world-class sports facilities. Like the predators that inhabit its park, athletes come for a chance to compete: a chance to make a name for themselves, because for some, survival is not enough. It may be a coincidence that two gas jockeys from Canada’s tournament capital decided to disrupt the gas industry’s status quo, or perhaps the spirit of competition

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inspired them to do things their way—first in Kamloops, then across the country. That first Canco-branded site opened in 2016. To this day, the independent chain of gas stations bills itself as a “bold alternative to big-box retailers” and takes pride in purchasing directly from major fuel refineries and terminals in Canada. Building a network of dealers “Staying independent allows us to share some of the profits we save on purchasing fuel with our dealers. It allows us to reinvest that money into the company and target those dealers that are hungry for change,” says Laing. One of those people is Nik Vischschraper, manager, facilities and operations for the Splatsin Development Corporation, which manages the economic interests of the Splatsinac First Nation. He oversees Quilakwa Investments, which operates the Quilakwa Canco in Enderby, B.C. Following an accident last year at the well-established site—a transport truck hit the gas canopy, pushing them to undertake extensive renovations—the group saw it as an opportunity for a fresh start. “We shopped around and Canco came out ahead in terms of fuel pricing,” says Vischschraper, adding Canco assisted with the forecourt renovation. The four-month process, which began in October 2022, revamped the entire configuration of the Enderby site, which reopened in February. “Canco helped us realign the gas pumps into a more practical configuration, added an extra pump and an extralarge storage tank underground,” says Vischschraper of the full-service site that now features an air-conditioned kiosk for its gas jockeys. In addition, the renovated site now has 10 fuel pumps (six contain diesel); a c-store with a Chester’s Chicken franchise and Tim Hortons; and a new gas canopy that features both the Quilakwa and Canco logos. The site further sets itself apart with an Indigenous gift gallery, fireworks and other special offerings. “Even though they offered so much for our c-store, they still gave us the freedom to merchandise the store how we wanted,” Vischschraper says of the partnership. Competitive edge In addition, dealers can take advantage of Canco’s Edge program to leverage the buying power of the Canco group and negotiate prices with vendors. “Instead of a single site negotiating with the size of its store, one of our independent dealers can negotiate using the entire network’s volume. Or we will negotiate for them at a corporate level,” explains Laing, adding members are able to take advantage of preferred pricing, as well as extensive rebate programs. The Edge program enabled the Quilakwa team to negotiate better prices with Frito-Lay, and begin new relationships with wholesalers like Gordon Food Service and Sysco Corp. Canco’s agreements with Chester’s Chicken and Tim Hortons provide many of its c-stores with a valuable foodservice offering that includes made-to-order fried

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chicken, coffee and other treats. In addition, Canco’s Chillerz program offers slushies, while its comprehensive foodservice program includes everything from hot breakfast sandwiches to fresh fruits and salads. In Ontario, one of Canco’s new sites—4901 Steeles Ave. West. In North York—features a c-store and full forecourt, as well as Tim Hortons. The location is just a few months old, but already there are plans to expand the foodservice offering there. “We’re negotiating with a quick service restaurant that is going to be partnering with us at that location,” says Laing. Food is increasingly part of the company’s DNA. In January 2021, it opened its first grocery store—Canco Supermarket—in Saltair, B.C., where customers can buy fresh produce, deli, hot food, coffee, Chillerz and more. For customers that prefer their food items delivered, Laing says the company is leveraging local food-delivery services like DoorDash and Skip the Dishes.

Cultivating loyalty The company’s loyalty program—Canco Cash—is a valuable tool that Vivek Kumar, who manages the new corporate store in Brampton, Ont., uses to attract and retain customers. The cashback program offers customers two cents per litre, 2% cashback on in-store purchases and 1% cashback on lottery tickets. Kumar, who began his career with Canco in 2016 as a cashier in Kamloops, says the Brampton site is just a few months old, but is already building a strong reputation in the community. “People have been coming here to save on gas prices, once they are here, we make sure to give them the best customer service,” says Kumar, adding Brampton often has one of the lowest prices on GasBuddy—an app that helps customers find the cheapest gas stations—and strong Google reviews have helped make the store credible in the community. Stories like Kumar’s are ones that Canco strives to see more often, says Laing. “The idea is to build a structure where there are aspirations to grow within the company. So, you can start as a store manager and from there you can work your way to becoming a regional manager, who can help coach and develop other managers.” Right now, the bright blue-and-orange Canco’s logo is spread thin across the GTA but sends strong signals about Canco’s bullish expansion outside of British Columbia. Laing says that there’s a strong desire to move directly into Toronto, where large, national- and multinational dominate the market. For a lone independent, the competition might be too tough, but for Canco, Toronto may be just another city of tournaments. OCTANE

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2 0 2 3 S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y R E P O R T

A GREENER WASH

Equipment and chemical innovations support operators’ sustainability efforts

To your average Canadian, a commercial car wash may seem like a luxury; one that carries with it harmful effects for the environment. In fact, most Canadians (60%, according to a 2021 Ipsos-Reid study for Suncor) believe that hand washing a vehicle in the driveway has less of an impact on the environment, a stigma that has been disproven again and again. And yet, manufacturers in the industry

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continue to innovate in the name of sustainability, and to help operators make their car washes more ecologically friendly. Water conservation Tim Walker, partner at Soapy Brushy, a creative car wash consultancy based in Dundas, Ont.,

Tim Walker

says that one of the first considerations for car wash operators is water, since it’s no surprise that traditional car washes use an enormous amount of water. Walker suggests that operators can reduce their water consumption by using low-flow nozzles and implementing other water

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BY DA N I E L R E A L E - CH I N

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Introducing Next Generation Gantry S10 for 2023

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80

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2 0 2 3 S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y R E P O R T

that’s part of Sonny’s Direct, says that Diamond Shine strives to create environmentally friendly wash solutions. The company uses mainly biodegradable surfactants in its formulations and its products do not contain nonylphenol ethoxylates or PFAs—compounds that are also popular in car wash cleaning products, but bad for the environment. “Our formulas are safe for sewer systems,” says Harkins, adding, “the goal is to be hard on dirt, but easy on the earth.” Replacing dyes Velocity Water—another company under the Sonny’s umbrella—is also producing water reclamation systems that Harkins says can help operators recapture and reuse 50 to 60% of the water their wash uses. The company is steadily working on a new system that can reuse up to 70 to 80% of water, but the system is still under development and testing. Harkins says that one of the biggest challenges in water reclamation is trying to remove the dyes/colours that are used in soap. Transchem has also stepped away from using dyed chemistry in its newer portfolio of products. Ewing says that this has been part of the company’s effort to create reclaimoptimized chemistry. One way that Ewing is trying to recapture the theatrical experience strong red, green and blue dyes have given automatic car

washes is by encouraging operators to incorporate LED lighting systems in their car washes. “The show that customers are used to experiencing at car washes isn’t as vibrant with no dye, and that’s where the LED lighting system comes in.” By incorporating LED systems with deep colours, Ewing says that operators can enhance the clear nature of chemistry that has no dye and is optimized for water reclamation. By stepping towards these products, Ewing says that Transchem’s reclaimed systems can recycle about 65% of the water that they use in their car wash. Equipment updates Beyond water, Walker says that operators should also consider upgrading their equipment to more energy-efficient models that can help them reduce their overall energy consumption. Part of that is energy efficiency, something that Arthur Stephens, president and CEO of International Drying Corp., is working on. His company has been manufacturing car wash drying systems for 22 years, with an ongoing focus on improving energy efficiency, performance, longevity and sound control. Stephens recommends operators consider using car wash systems that use axial fans for their efficiency. International Drying’s latest system

delivers over 11,000 cu. ft. of air a minute out of a 10-horsepower motor, versus an average centrifugal unit, which he says typically delivers around 5,000 cu. ft. of air per minute out of a 15-horsepower motor. “By using a system that’s more efficient, you won’t need as many motors to hit all of those different pinpoints on a vehicle because of the airflows. You’re saving upwards of 20 to 30% on your electric bill.” Beyond the axial fans, Stephens says that operators can also consider technology like variable frequency drives (VFDs) or dimmer switches that can help control the energy input and voltage used to run their drying system. He recommends operators run their centrifugal fans between 55 and 57 hertz, versus a higher hertz like 60—this can help reduce energy consumption by 6 to 8%. “It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when operators are saving a couple of thousand dollars a month in their electric bill and reducing their energy use by that amount each month, it adds up over the year, both in energy savings for the environment and in an operator’s pocket.” OCTANE

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May | June 2023 OCTANE

Actionable ways to implement sustainability at your forecourt BY DA N I E L R E A L E - CH I N

Amid a dynamic landscape characterized by rising and falling fuel prices, as well as policies like the federal government’s Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act that aims to reach the elusive mark of net-zero emission by 2050, it’s no surprise that Canada’s transportation industry has begun adopting ways to make our roads greener. The recent “Embracing Canada’s Low-Carbon On-Road Transportation Opportunity” study, published by the Canadian Transportation Alliance, found that demand for hydrogen is projected to grow five times by 2050, while 10 to 12% of light-duty vehicles on our roads are expected to be electric by 2030. With those changes, individual consumers are also considering ways to make their spending habits, fuel choices and buying decisions a little greener. According to the EY Future Consumer Index Survey, 69% of Canadian consumers expect companies to solve sustainability issues and our C-store IQ National Shopper Study—the only research that delves into the minds of c-gas customers in Canada—shows 74% indicate some likelihood to switch c-stores based on sustainability efforts (READ: Your customers are watching CSNC p. 15). In other words, your c-gas have high expectations, and they expect you to act. With that in mind, we asked industry experts about the latest innovations designed to help make your forecourt eco-friendlier. All in on recycling North York, Ont.-based Gorrie has been a leader in recycled products for the forecourt for over 40 years. On its recycling and commercial products side (Gorrie RCP), the company manufactures products made from lowdensity polyethylene plastic and recycled plastic. Steffen Schenk, co-CEO of Gorrie says that its own range of products, including merchandising displays, signage, waste bins, fixtures and more can be recycled. As well, its recently launched multi-stream products feature Steffen Schenk waste bins that help operators categorize waste into one, two, three or four streams depending on the waste and recycling policies in their municipality. Rather than just a basic garbage bin, the products illustrate to forecourt and convenience customers that operators are committed to environmental initiatives that reduce the amount of waste in landfills. Communicate efforts Schenk says it’s important for operators to demonstrate to their customers that they want to make a difference. The first step, according to him, is by demonstrating that they adhere to the principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle”:

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“There should be signage right at the pump that explains what the corporate office is doing to promote a lower carbon footprint and how it is achieving the green initiative,” says Schenk, adding sustainability and care go far beyond the pumps, and operators should assess their entire site to put their beliefs into action. “From washrooms to the amenity units at the pump island, ‘clean’ means that management is conscious to provide a safe and clean environment,” adds Schenk. Reduce plastic Ontario-based EcoTank’s offering includes an eco-friendly solution for refilling windshield washer fluid. EcoTank produces and installs completely autonomous tanks for customers to refill their windshield washer fluid. “Our solution is completely attendant-less. We install the equipment and manage the entire process including service and refill,” says Robbie Mair, co-founder and CEO of EcoTank Canada. “This way operators don’t need to worry about the handling, garbage disposal, labour and loss of inventory costs associated with Robbie Mair typical plastic jug sales.” So far, EcoTank has installed more than 1,100 units across 19 countries. Its tanks eliminate the need for plastic jugs of windshield washer fluid and help track carbon and plastic credits through EcoTank’s software. Mair says that standard windshield washer fluid jugs are “contaminated with methanol, so without an expensive and thorough cleaning process, are not recycled properly and so mostly end up in landfills.” Arctic Blue president, Tom White, who set out to promote environmental concerns and eliminate plastic waste by inventing Easy Flow On Tap, agrees. He says his solar-powered mini bulk vending dispensing system for windshield washer fluid and air inflator services “eliminates two skids, 104 cardboard cartons and 416 jugs from the environment with each refill.” A testimonial from one female customer reinforces that c-gas Tom White customers are looking for sustainability innovations to support their personal values: “I truly believe this should be mandatory for all gas stations so we can all do our part eliminating plastic and bettering the world for our children and theirs.” Tackle spillage Ohio-based Red Leonard Associates represents multiple manufacturers in North America’s forecourt industry. Jim Rodd, sales manager at Red Leonard says that many of the company’s manufacturers have been working on eco-

friendly solutions for the forecourt. One of its brands, Husky, recently introduced a new line of ecofriendly nozzles. Rodd explains that “The nozzle is equipped with a mechanical interlock designed to shut off fuel flow before the spout is out of the tank. The design will significantly reduce customer top-off spills.”

Jim Rodd

Envision the future As for the future of the forecourt, the experts note several innovations that excite them. “We see a trend to other sustainable products including solar panels on canopies, electric vehicle (EV) chargers and even solar windmills to help support offsets,” says Mair. Schenk agrees: “The most obvious eco-friendly trend in the industry is the growth in the electric-car market, which certainly reduces the amount of petroleum used.” Canada’s big players are working steadily to expand their network of charging stations (READ: Revving up to the electric age CSNC p. 18), however there are plenty of more immediate steps that operators of all sizes can take now to showcase their commitment to sustainability. Investing in recyclable merchandisers, refillable windshield washer fluid tanks and nozzles that can reduce gas spillage are practical solutions to make your forecourt more eco-friendly. OCTANE

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Today, 14% of shoppers own an electric vehicle (EV), an increase of seven percentage points in one year. Among owners, most (74%) charge their vehicles during some of their c-gas site visits and two-thirds feel it’s important that stores have a charging station available, according to the 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study. Working with the research team at EnsembleIQ, Convenience Store News Canada surveyed more than 2,000 c-gas shoppers across the country to examine their attitudes about EV charging. Now in its third year, this is the only convenience and gas specific study delving into the ever evolving wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian consumers, with comprehensive coverage of different ages and geographical locations. Among those who do not currently own an electric vehicle, nearly half (45%) indicate some likelihood that they will consider purchasing one in the next two to three years: 7% report it ‘extremely’ likely, a significant increase from a year ago. What are consumers looking for in an EV charging destination? We asked: “Imagine that you own an electric vehicle and that you need to find a charging station for it. Which of the following features would be most important for you in determining where to stop to charge your vehicle?” Convenient location, free Wi-Fi and proximity to other stores remain among the top three important features for a charging station to offer, however providing seating and entertainment outlets for humans and pets saw boosts in importance. Of note, different demographics have different priorities:

• Boomers, generation X and millennials say a convenient location is very important. • Boomers say being close to other stores to shop while vehicle charges is most important.

• A convenient location is very important to people in Alberta and Atlantic Canada. • EV chargers close to outdoor space/ parks are more important to people in British Columbia.

EV ownership

14%

86%

Of shoppers currently own a plug-in electric vehicle

Of shoppers do not own a plug-in electric vehicle, however45% are considering it

Importance of c-gas site having charging station

Frequency of using EV charger at c-gas site

Likelihood of purchasing an EV in next 2-3 years

33% Extremely / Very important

32% Every / Almost every time

17% Extremely /Very likely

32% Somewhat important

42% Some of the time

28% Somewhat likely

35% Not at all / Not very important

27% 41% Never / Rarely

55% Not at all / Not very likely

Significant increase / decrease

18

May | June 2023 OCTANE

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Important features for electric vehicle charging station to offer Convenient location

49%

58%

34%

Free Wi-Fi Close to other stores that I can shop

32% 39% 29%

Ability to get meal/snack/beverage Membership program with discounted rates

26%

Close to other services I can use

Canada’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) registrations hit a record milestone in 2022: One in every 11 vehicles registered (8.9%). Year over year, the total volume of ZEVs in Canada has increased by 38.8%, according to S&P Global Mobility

19%

Seating area/lounge

17% 13% 14% 17%

Close to outdoor space/park I can enjoy Dedicated area for children

11% 8%

Enclosed outdoor space for dog use

9%

6%

In-store gaming/entertainment

8%

5%

Significant increase / decrease

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MAY 2023 DEDICATED TO SHARING KNOWLEDGE AND BEST PRACTICES IN THE CARWASH INDUSTRY BOARD OF DIRECTORS Karen L. Smith - Valet Car Wash Jeff Beam - Mondo Products Christina Caruso - Suncor Energy Inc. Michael Destro - Rainbow Car Wash Michael Howe - WashLinks

From the President Hello Canadian Car Washers, Distributors and Manufacturers, An enthusiastic thank you to all 12 car washes across Canada who participated in the 1st Annual Car Wash for a Cure on March 31 and April 1. This event was organized by the Canadian Carwash Association, in partnership with the Canadian Spinal Research Organization and despite some inclement weather, raised a total of $5,844.05 for spinal cord research. Outstanding!

Mike Jacques - National Car Wash Solutions Matthew Lapolice - Mark VII Canada Grady Taylor - Transchem Group Rudy van Woerkom - Belvedere Technical Services Tim Walker - Soapy Brushy NATIONAL OFFICE Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE, DES Director of Operations Brynne Wrigley, DES Director of Events Heidi Loney, DES Digital Media Specialist

Dates for the 2nd Annual Car Wash for a Cure will be announced very soon with details on how to get involved in 2024. Kudos to the following participating car wash companies:

CCA Membership Rates (Annual) Car Washes Car Wash Owner/Operator- $395 ($49 for each additional location) Oil Company - $395 ($49 for each additional location)

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CONTENTS

M AY | J U N E 2 0 2 3

VOLUME 6 | NUMBER 3

5 Editor’s Message It’s time for action

6 The Buzz

People, places, news and events

9 Snapshot

The lipstick effect: Kathy Perrotta of Ipsos Canada examines snacking in the pandem-flation era

10 Retailer Spotlight

All in: Montreal-based Toutes les choses parfaites takes the buy-local concept to a whole new level

14

14 Feature

2023 Sustainability Report: Taking action

COVER PHOTO: CHANTALE LECOURS

20 Top Ops

Burdened with too many tasks? Outsourcing HR can free you up to grow your business

22 Category Check

Thirst for health: When stocking your coolers, ride the wave of popularity for enhanced waters with vitamins and other good-for-you ingredients

24 2023 C-store IQ National

ALL CONVENIENCE E-NEWSLETTER

Shopper Study

Delivered to your in-box Monday and Wednesday

Purchasing Report: What’s inside the shopping bag?

CSNC EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Comprised of leading retail executives and convenience operators, this volunteer group of industry champions offer advice, key insights and on-the-ground perspectives that serve as an invaluable resource to ensure content is relevant and meets the needs of the industry. Leslie Gordon, Circle K Robbie Broda, Little Short Stop Marc Goodman, 7-Eleven Canada Laurie & Randy Ure, Ure’s Country Kitchen Wendy Kadlovski, Nicholby’s Gino Vecia, Hasty Market

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EDITOR’S MESSAGE 20 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 1800, Toronto, ON M4R 1K8 (416) 256-9908 | (877) 687-7321 | Fax (888) 889-9522 www.CCentral.ca BRAND MANAGEMENT

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GROCERY AND CONVENIENCE, CANADA Sandra Parente (416) 271-4706 sparente@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL

EDITOR & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Michelle Warren mwarren@ensembleiq.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Daniel Real-Chin drealechine@ensembleiq.com ADVERTISING SALES AND BUSINESS

SALES DIRECTOR Julia Sokolova (647) 407-8236 jsokolova@ensembleiq.com ACCOUNT MANAGER Jonathan Davis (705) 970-3670 jdavis@ensembleiq.com SALES COORDINATOR Juan Chacon jchacon@ensembleiq.com DESIGN | PRODUCTION | MARKETING

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Nancy Peterman npeterman@ensembleiq.com ART DIRECTOR Jackie Shipley jshipley@ensembleiq.com SENIOR PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Michael Kimpton mkimpton@ensembleiq.com MARKETING MANAGER Jakob Wodnicki jwodnicki@ensembleiq.com

CORPORATE OFFICERS

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Jane Volland CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Derek Estey CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER Ann Jadown CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER Joe Territo SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

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Subscription Questions contactus@ccentral.ca Subscriptions: Print $65.00 per year, 2 year $120.00, Digital $45.00 per year, 2 year $84.00, Outside Canada $100.00 per year, Single copy $12.00, Groups $46.00, Outside Canada Single copy $16.00. Email: csnc@ccentral.ca Phone: 1-877-687-7321, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST weekdays Fax: 1-888-520-3608 | Online: www.ccentral.ca/subscribe Convenience Store News Canada | Octane is published 6 times a year by Ensembleiq. Convenience Store News Canada | Octane is circulated to managers, buyers and professionals working in Canada’s convenience, gas and wash channel. Please direct inquiries to the editorial offices. Contributions of articles, photographs and industry information are welcome, but cannot be acknowledged or returned. ©2023 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including photocopying and electronic retrieval/retransmission, without the permission of the publisher. Printed in Canada by Transcontinental Printing | PM42940023 CHANNEL ALLIANCES:

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It’s time for action

In the 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study, we asked 2,000 convenience customers: “If another convenience store in your area began demonstrating a stronger commitment to sustainability than the store you currently shop at most often, how likely would you be to switch and begin shopping at the ‘more sustainable’ convenience store?” An incredible three-in-four shoppers (74%) indicate some likelihood to switch stores based on sustainability practices, with 27% emphasizing they are extremely/very likely to make a switch. That’s right, your customers are watching, and they expect c-gas operators to take action, whether you are a multi-national or regional chain, dealer, franchisee or independent with one neighbourhood shop. Our 2023 Sustainability Report looks at the topic from all angles, zeroing in on how consumers want c-store operators to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability practices (p. 14), the initiatives that c-stores are taking around the big issues (food waste, energy consumption, EV charging and more p. 16) and actionable ideas for store, forecourt (OCTANE, p. 16) and car wash operators (OCTANE, p. 12). C-store IQ reveals that 79% of c-store shoppers say stocking locally sourced products is an important way for c-stores to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. For most retailers, the value placed on local represents an opportunity to rethink their category mix, for Karine Martel, however, it’s the core of her business. Her Montreal-based c-store, Toutes les choses parfaites, sources its 1,000-plus products from local suppliers (p. 10). It’s a great story about sustainable business practices and if there’s one thing that’s clear, telling your sustainability story is essential to engage your customers and keep them coming back for more. That’s right—be proactive when it comes to communicating how you are incorporating sustainability in every aspect of your business. For instance, if you invest in new energy-saving equipment or fixtures, put up a sign and share it on your social channels. Showcase sustainable brands and products. Start a battery drop-off program for your community. Put recycling bins in your forecourt to help your customers do the right thing. All actions, big or small, make a difference. And, while you are at it, why not celebrate your efforts through the 2023 CSNC Impact Awards? Launched last year, the now-annual program recognizes initiatives introduced by retailers, suppliers, distributors and solution providers that are making a meaningful difference in a range of important areas, from helping the planet to supporting employees and communities. The deadline to nominate is May 31 and winners will be featured in the September/October issue, as well as via a digital campaign. We can’t want to hear about your good work for the greater good! CSNC

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MICHELLE WARREN

Editor & associate publisher

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Convenience Store News Canada May | June 2023

5


THE BUZZ

CROSS - CANADA ROUND - UP / PEOPLE / PL ACES / NE WS & E VENTS

SAY HELLO!

READER POLLS

Daniel Reale-Chin joins the Convenience Store News Canada and OCTANE team as associate editor. He will work on print and digital content for the publications, as well as related brands. A writer and journalist based in Toronto, Reale-Chin’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Toronto Life and various B2B publications. He can be reached at drealechin@ensembleiq.com.

As a retailer, do you sell grey-market products?

If yes, are you aware of the legal/health issues?

Yes

Yes

11% 33% 56% No

Not that I know of

50%

0% 29% 71% No

Julia Sokolova joins Ensemble IQ as sales director, working on print and digital solutions for Convenience Store News Canada + OCTANE, All Convenience Newsletter, Star Women in Convenience, CSNC Impact Awards and related brands/events. In addition to her most recent role as marketing specialist with Manulife, Sokolova has deep experience in B2B media sales with TC Media, Newcom Media and Rogers Communications. She can be reached at jsokolova@ensembleiq.com.

I am now and it will influence my offering

SAVE THE DATE

of those who sell grey-market products say it enables them to differentiate their store from the competition, while 17% say they are meeting consumer demand. Special Digital Report: The growing infiltration of grey market confectionary products pose a risk to c-stores and customers, say industry experts

Sweets & Snacks Expo May 22-25, 2023 Chicago SweetsandSnacks.com

Star Women in Convenience Awards September 19, 2023 International Centre StarWomenConvenience.ca The Convenience U CARWACS Show March 5-6, 2024 International Centre ConvenienceU.ca

Seven-in-10 (71%) shoppers say they visit the same convenience store each time: 41% say they shop a chain/banner c-store (up from 37% in 2022), while 40% shop what they perceive to be an independent store. (Source: 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study)

6

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

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FAS T FACT

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MOVING ON UP

Roslane Aouameur is promoted to CFO for Goodfood. Ross, who has nearly 15 years of experience in corporate finance and accounting, has been with the company for three and half years and played an instrumental role in the growth phase, capital markets and entrepreneurship. Patrick Charbonneau moves into a new role as general manager, VP, foodservice, at PepsiCo Canada. Charbonneau joined PepsiCo Canada in 1997 and has held progressive roles on both the food and beverage sides of the business, most recently as VP of field sales for PepsiCo Beverages Canada. Michael Cronin is now director strategy & partnerships at The Great Canadian Meat Company. He joins from Ensemble IQ, where he was mostly recently VP, events – North America. He previously spent more than a decade with Fulcrum Media. Ariane Friesen joins Mondelēz International in Toronto as director ecommerce commercial strategy and growth. She comes from The Clorox Company and has held roles at Sports Illustrated Asia, Government of Canada, Sony BMG Canada and Mosaic Sales Solutions. Michal Kellner joins Wallace & Carey as director of sales, based in Calgary. He comes from from Galerie au Chocolat and has a strong legacy in the food industry, with companies that include Planet Foods, Indigo Natural Products, United Natural Foods and Planet Organic Market. Paul King joins payment provider, Moneris, as director, partner management. King was with Greenergy for almost three years, building the convenience and fuel brand in Canada. He has also worked with BG Fuels, Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil. Mike Lust steps into a new role as VP, growth office, PepsiCo Foods Canada. The company veteran has held several increasingly progressive key roles across various divisions and countries since 1993, most recently he was VP customer development, PepsiCo Foods Canada. Eli Mail joins Fire & Flower as VP, retail operations. The former consultant with NCR Corporation spent nearly six years with Parkland Corp. Before that, he was at CIBC and Canadian Tire.

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Grace Rytwinski joins Kind Canada as director, sales strategy. She comes from Clif Bar & Co. where she was sales strategy manager, Canada. Rytwinski has worked at Smucker Foods, Abbott, Henkel, Hallmark Canada and PepsiCo Canada. Tara Scott is now chief commerical officer at Coca-Cola Canada Bottling. She joined the company in 2018 and has an extensive background in Canada’s food industry.

ON LI N E E XC LU S IVE S

10 HEADLINES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS! 1. Suncor and North Atlantic form new corporate identity 2. New Canadians = new customers 3. P arkland teams up with Aeroplan for new loyalty partnership 4. Pepsi unveils refreshing new look 5. R abba Fine Foods opens Tim Hortons in Milton, Ont. location 6. Forecasting demand: A surge in ice cream sales left some c-store owners scratching their heads 7. Couche-Tard sells 52 sites in Atlantic Canada, furthers expansion plan in the region 8. Hershey Canada releases Her for She Bars, pledges $40K to Girl Up 9. CICC Connects: Contraband and crime 10. Ontario government revives gas-anddash Bill Don’t miss the latest news and trends, get the All Convenience e-newsletter delivered to your in-box Monday + Wednesday. Sign up at CCentral.ca/ newsletter

Eric Smith, formerly senior director of field sales for Ontario, for PepsiCo Beverages Canada, is promoted to VP of field sales at the beverage giant. Smith joined the company in 2007.

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Convenience Store News Canada May | June 2023

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SNAPSHOT BY KATHY PERROTTA

The lipstick effect

Snacking trends in the pandem-flation era favour indulgence A colliding set of post-pandemic habits, inflation concerns, and geopolitical factors continue to impact and influence consumer needs, shopping routines and snacking habits. In tandem with emerging environmental forces, shifting mealtime behaviours—led by more away-from-home occasions, increasing demand for portable solutions and rising meal skipping—have aided the growth of snacking or ‘every day inbetweening’. Ipsos FIVE Consumption Study tracks daily needs and behaviour among over 23,000 individuals annually and reveals that nine in 10 Canadians engage in snacking every day. The information also confirms the return to mini-mealing regimes (+2% vs. 2021). Close to one in five Canadians (17%) adhere to this routine, which eliminates the focus on traditional meals in favour of multiple small events throughout the day. The behaviour is wildly popular among generation Z leading and trailing cohorts. However, the concept is also growing among the behemoth boomer cohort (driven by digestive issues, caloric intake factors and sleep quality concerns). Changes in eating patterns have also prompted a more focused approach to snacking choices triggered by shifting functional and emotional motivations, unique situational dynamics and evolving dietary demands and priorities. So, what does this mean for snacking in 2023 and beyond? Daypart dynamics The data continues to confirm that the afternoon snacking is the largest occasion in an average day. However, morning snack is the fastest growing

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occasion, with munching rates up considerably (+14%) versus last year. Evening snacking, which exploded during the pandemic for a variety of reasons, such as increased demand for comfort and escapism, remains strong. Inflationary pressures One might think that increasing pressures on discretionary spending due to rising prices might deter the snack appeal. However, the data reveals that noshing behaviours are less impacted by triggers like good value for money and cost savings, particularly when compared to meal habits. The FIVE data confirms that while half of all dinner choices are impacted by value trigger motivators, 43% fewer snacking occasions are motivated by similar demands. Make no mistake, the importance of value, which also shifts by different categories and brands, does still factor into some snacking choices. However, its force is less voracious, with a variety of other consumer needs ranking ahead of value and cost concerns. Health vs. indulgence While consumption rates of healthoriented traditional snack options increased (+2%) versus last year, indulgent snacking continues to hold a larger share of the snacking stomach. This is driven by late afternoon and evening behaviours with the continuing growth of salty and indulgent sweet options. All the while, the snack universe continues to expand beyond traditional snack options. In fact, both meal foods and beverages play an increasingly large role in snacking choices, opening the door for new players to ‘snackify’ their products and brands.

Triggers and tensions To win in the increasingly competitive snacking landscape, it is critical to understand the needs that shape choices. These needs differ by occasion, location, varying demographic cohorts, unique multicultural groups, generations, dietary priorities, party size, activity engagement and a host of other situational dynamics. Triggers like hunger/thirst, craving, comfort, ease and habit are entry points to snacking choices. Interestingly, all of these triggers rank ahead of taste, treat and health needs. To bullseye target your snacking fit, it is also critical to know which drivers are being prioritized and which are declining. Experiential focus, portability drivers, value demands, and cognitive health need states are all increasingly shaping snacking choices. Conversely, grazeability, customization, guilt and thirst/ refreshment show decline. Despite food inflation concerns and rising prices that continue to plague the economy, Canadians continue to snack. They also are looking for new, different and trendy flavours, format and brand options, which all bodes well for future snacking innovation. Perhaps it is the lipstick effect in play, as consumers treat themselves with small affordable indulgences that provide comfort and joy, when larger ticket discretionary spending seems unaffordable. In any event, it is undeniable that snacking is and will continue to be an integral part of Canadians’ daily intake patterns for decades to come. CSNC Kathy Perrotta is a VP with Ipsos Canada Market Strategy and Understanding, working with Food & Beverage Group Syndicated Services.

Convenience Store News Canada May | June 2023

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A L L

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Montreal-based Toutes les choses parfaites takes the buy-local concept to a whole new level BY M A R K CA R DW ELL | PHOTO BY CH A N TA LE LEC OU RS

I N C-STORE

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C - STORE IQ NATIONAL SHOPPE R STUDY: LOCAL LOVE

More than four in five (86%) of c-store shoppers purchase locally produced products. Most buy local to support businesses in their community, followed by a perception of higher quality, however 37% also feel it’s environmentally responsible. More insights on p. 12

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May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

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M

Montreal convenience store owner Karine Martel isn’t surprised by the success that her new business—a shop that sells only Canadian-made items—is enjoying since it opened in November 2021. What amazes her is that her novel retail notion—a concept that is generating interest in (and as an outlet for) c-store items made by small local producers—hadn’t been thought of sooner. “It was a vacant niche that just made so much sense,” Martel says of the vibrant store in a budding technology park near the Olympic Stadium in east-end Montreal, where “95% of the things we sell— chips, beer, wine, snacks and food— are made by small producers here in Quebec, with the rest from other provinces. None of the items we sell come across the Canada-U.S. border or from big food manufacturing companies.” Sourcing local According to Martel, finding suppliers of the 1,000-plus c-store items she sells wasn’t nearly as hard as she (and others) feared when she first proposed the idea for the unique store in the innovative Technopôle Angus area. It’s here that Société de developpement Angus, a government-backed nonprofit, is working to redevelop and revitalize the once-vibrant industrial sector in the heart of the RosemontLa Petite-Patrie neighbourhood. Before the business opened, Martel spent several months researching and sourcing dozens of mostly small, artisanal Quebec food, snack and sundry item manufacturers, who became her suppliers. “I met a lot of great people who are really passionate about what they do,” she says. “Giving them a place to sell their products and get known was a big motivation for me. I know and am proud to sell every single product in my store.” Those products include potato chips made by Miett, a farm-based start-up in nearby Mirabel, and hand-brewed cola and root beer from Montreal’s Henri Sodas.

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Convenience Store News Canada May | June 2023

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From loss came opportunity The 45-year-old credits her own business background, as well as the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, for creating the perfect storm to conceive of and realize her unique c-store concept. A former student athlete from Sorel, who studied theatre at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Martel spent several years travelling across North America and performing as a puppeteer at festivals. In 2005, she and friends opened a bisto, where she initially dreamed of performing her own shows at the bistro, but instead settled into the role of head chef. In 2013, Martel set up a resto-cafe in nearby Olympic Stadium: In 2020, the pandemic forced a sudden end to the venture. At the same time, buy local became a rallying call, with the Quebec government promoting the movement through its Le Panier Bleu program. The effort jived with Martel’s enthusiasm and support for eco-friendly, sustainable production methods and that was the impetus for her unique c-store idea. “The concept wouldn’t have worked before 2020,” she says. “But the pandemic changed everything.” Buoyed by federal emergency funding she received for her restaurant, which she shuttered for good in October 2020, Martel developed a business plan. True to her theatrical nature, she named the store Toutes les choses

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parfaites—the French title for Every Brilliant Thing, a life-affirming play about hope that inspired Martel. Bringing life to the vision Her business plan won the regional final in the business start-up category from OSEntreprendre 2021, an awards program designed to foster entrepreneurship in Quebec. “It was extremely encouraging because the store wasn’t even open yet,” recalls Martel. “It gave me a real boost.” Working with the Société de development Angus, which saw the unique c-store as a perfect fit for its revitalization efforts, Martel rented a ground-floor space (next to a small pharmacy and below a medical clinic) in a new four-storey commercial building. With help from the same designer who did her bistro, Martel worked with the designer to build wood

counters, furnishing and other store elements, which give the store what she calls “a feeling of added warmth.” Though she doesn’t advertise or do promotions (apart from a December 15% discount on Quebec wines to better compete with a nearby SAQ outlet), Martel says word of mouth, together with several articles about her new store in local newspapers, helped to make her c-store a going concern from the get-go. She also engages her nearly 3,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook by profiling her local wares. Customers include residents, workers and passers-by of all ages. “We get a lot of traffic every day throughout the day—though some periods are busier than others,” says Martel, who works in the store (mostly doing orders but helping on cash when needed), alongside her loyal employees—two full time and one part time, who worked with her at her former business. “It’s a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun,” says Martel, who is already thinking about opening a second store in Montreal. “I’m getting contacted more and more by new Quebec suppliers. My fridge is full of samples—almost too many to be honest. But it’s a nice problem that I’m more than happy to have.” CSNC

C - STORE IQ NATIONAL SHOPPE R STUDY: LOCAL LOVE

Do you purchase local products?

45% Always/often

41% Sometimes

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Why purchase locallyproduced products? To support local businesses

62%

Feel quality is better

42%

Sustainable / better for environment 37% More unique

29%

Other

2%

8% Rarely / never 6% Don’t know / not sure

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOUTES LES CHOSES PARFAITES

Other Quebec companies supply everything from jujubes, candies, chocolate bars and newspapers to beer, cider, wine, bread, charcuterie and frozen pizza—even salt, cleaning products, house plants and fresh-cut flowers are local. Only a handful of items—notably gum from Ontario, oat milk from British Columbia and New Brunswick’s Covered Bridge potato chips—come from outside Quebec. “In many ways we’re a very traditional convenience store—though we don’t sell cigarettes or lottery tickets,” says Martel. “What really sets us apart is the local provenance of the things we sell. People really like it. We get a lot of great comments every day.”

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2 0 2 3 S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y R E P O R T

TAKING ACTION

The c-store sector in Canada was slow off the mark in making sustainability an environmental, social and business imperative. But its players are now rising to the challenge, undertaking tangible actions to combat climate change. They are part of the solution towards helping the Canadian government reach its goal of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. That ladders up to the ultimate goal for Canada to be a net zero economy by 2050.

BY CH R IS DA N I E L S

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Alimentation Couche-Tard has mapped out a journey to sustainability in Canada, which includes an EV charger network, a partnership with food waste reduction company and more (see sidebars). “We are just at the start of our journey,” says Helena Winberg, the company’s director of global sustainability, who is based in Stockholm. Couche-Tard’s path was recently validated with an upgrade to AA (a leader on ESG initiatives) from Helena Winberg an A (average), by Morningstar Sustainalytics, a global ESG research and ratings firm. “It is recognition that we are taking the right approach,” says Winberg. She adds that it was important for the company, which owns the Circle K brand, to not wait for government targets before acting. “You want to stay ahead of what’s coming around the corner on government regulation, so that you make the right investment decisions for the business, rather than the wrong ones because of feeling the time pressure,” says Winberg. Christy Elliot 7-Eleven Canada, meanwhile, is set to announce a nationwide partnership with Too Good to Go, as part of its effort to save food from landfill. Its 7Charge fast-charging network, which has already rolled out in several U.S. states, is also coming soon to Canada. In addition to rolling out its own EV charging network, Parkland is looking to make its c-stores more energy efficient. “Sustainability means providing our customers with safe, reliable energy and products they need today, while making strategic decisions and innovative investments that contribute to a lower carbon future,” says Christy Elliott, chief sustainability officer, Parkland. Together with independent store owners who are adopting some of the same measures as the big chains, the industry is working to become better for the Earth, and to support government, suppliers and, ultimately, customers on their own journeys towards sustainability.

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

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C - STORE IQ NATIONAL SHOPPE R STUDY

Sustainability Report: Your customers are watching Three-in-four shoppers indicate some likelihood to switch c-stores based on sustainability practices, according to new data from the 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study. More than 2,000 Canadians weighed in on sustainability issues. It’s worth noting that women have slightly higher motivations when it comes to sustainability and came out ahead of men in their likelihood to switch to a more sustainable convenience store if given the option. They put a great emphasis on: • Movement towards zero waste • Ethical sourcing policies • Recycling containers • Reusable bag incentives • Donating food instead of throwing it out In addition, there are generational differences in attitudes towards sustainability.

• Generation Z, millennials and generation X are likely to switch to a more sustainable convenience store vs. boomers • Gen Z and millennials select energy efficient equipment and fixtures to be of utmost importance compared to gen X and boomers. • Gen X and boomers are strong proponents of c-stores donating food instead of throwing it out. • Geographically, people in Ontario are more likely to switch to a more sustainable convenience store vs. other provinces.

Reducing energy consumption

The industry has a ways to go when it comes to upgrading stores and modernizing them into highly energyefficient, GHG-saving footprints. Given refrigeration accounts for a big part of a c-store’s electricity consumption—between 40% and 45%, according to estimates— advancements are on the market. Newer models of walk-in coolers, for instance, have been designed with fewer doors and a more economical interior to display more merchandise, and a better variety of it, too. “With fewer doors being opened, and a smaller interior space, coolers today

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Shoppers rate the importance of stores demonstrating commitment to sustainability practices through these actions Donate food instead of throwing out

84%

10%

6%

Recycling containers for local use

81%

13%

6%

Locally sourced products

79%

14%

7%

Movement towards zero waste

78%

15%

7%

Reusable bag incentives

76%

17%

7%

Eliminate plastic bags/packaging

75%

18%

7%

Ethical sourcing policies

74%

18%

8%

Energy-efficient equipment/fixtures

73%

18%

9%

Likelihood to switch to a store demonstrating stronger commitment to sustainability

are a lot more energy efficient,” says Chris Midbo, head of sales, marketing and new business development, Western Refrigeration. Midbo also advises owners to keep up on maintenance. While cooling systems today possess high-efficiency compressors, he says those savings can be lost if the compressor gets blanketed in dust. “It will run hotter and hotter, needing more energy, and will eventually break down. Wipe that dust off the compressor every four or six months, and your cooler is going to run 15% to 20% more efficiently.” Last year, Couche-Tard carried out more than 10,000 energy-reducing projects globally, including remotely

27% Extremely / very likely

47% Somewhat likely

26% Not very / at all likely

controlling exterior lighting, as well as interior heating and cooling. Stores were upgraded with LED lighting, cooler retrofits, heating oil burner replacements and cooling room optimization. Parkland has also made energy efficiency at stores, says chief sustainability officer Christy Elliott. “Our teams are hard at work exploring a range of energy-efficiency opportunities for our sites across Canada, such as HVAC upgrades and energy management systems as well as solar,” she says. “As we learn more about where each type of initiative makes the most sense, and where they are cost effective, we’ll be able to implement them at scale.”

Convenience Store News Canada May | June 2023

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Fighting food waste According to a 2022 report from Second Harvest Canada, 45% of 127,000 potential business food donors are left with a surplus. Yet only 4% of Canada’s surplus food gets rescued or redistributed. The rest ends up in landfill, where it rots and spews methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Not only does such waste reflect poorly on stores because of the negative environmental impact, but many Canadians are struggling to put food on the table. Some c-store players have stepped up to reduce food waste, in a way that helps cash-strapped customers and boosts the bottom-line. Circle K recently finished a pilot at select locations in Montreal with Too Good to Go Canada, which operates an app that invites consumers to purchase “Surprise Bags” of food nearing the end of their lifecycle. Bags can be bought at different price points, depending on the original value of the food inside. “We’re really happy with these preliminary results,” says Sam Kashani, country director at Too Good to Go Canada. He notes Circle K Surprise Bags rated higher than the app’s average bag rating. Surprise Bags can include everything from baked goods, wraps and pastries to snacks and grocery essentials, like canned goods and condiments. “Couche-Tard has ensured each bag has a good variety and value,” says Kashani of its stellar rating. The Montreal pilot comes after

Surprise Bags can include everything from baked goods, wraps and pastries to snacks and grocery essentials, like canned goods and condiments Couche-Tard successfully partnered with Too Good to Go in Norway in 2017, and then four years later in Denmark (where the app was founded in 2015). Since then, almost 500,000 meals have been redeemed by customers there, the company reports. “Collaborations with Too Good to Go, and companies like it in other markets, have turned out really well,” says Helena Winberg, Couche-Tard’s director of global sustainability. “We want food that we sell to get to a customer who can eat it, because that’s what it was prepared for in the first place.” Food rescue initiatives also support those feeling the pinch of inflation. “We’re enabling people to buy food at a lower price,” Winberg notes. 7-Eleven Canada has also been piloting Too Good to Go at select Vancouver and Toronto stores. “Our pilot has already saved food with nearly 7,000 Surprise Bags,” says Kashani. The initiative has had such a positive impact, the partnership is set to expand nationwide around the end of April. “Consumer demand is a primary motivator in the move toward an increase of convenience stores with sus-

Too Good to Go Surprise Bags are a valuable tool for reducing food waste, engaging customers and boosting a c-store’s bottom line

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May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

tainable practices,” says Kashani. “We also know that food waste is widespread at the convenience level, and providing them with an effective, simple means to reduce the cost and waste typical for most stores is hugely beneficial.” That includes for independents like Carl’s Convenience in Oakville, Ont., a roughly 400-sq.-ft store that carries grocery items like milk, eggs and bread in addition to the usual staples. Owner Carl Gernhaelder is a chef, who previously worked at Rabba Fine Foods, and prepares deviled eggs, salads and homemade beef stew fresh for his store. Carl’s Convenience has been on the app for about a year and a half, charging $5 for $15 worth (or more) of food nearing their “best before” date. “When we first teamed up, there was so much excess, I did three bags a day for about two or three months, saving all this food from potentially being wasted,” he says. “Now I do one or two bags a day. It helps me regulate the store and keep everything fresh.” Rather than throw out expired milk, for example, “I can put that milk in a Surprise Bag. Some people’s eyes light up when they see that is in the bag.” The same for bananas. “I could sell a whole whack of bananas, then the rest would sit for days. Now when they get really yellow, they go in the bags, and I no longer lose money on them. It has allowed me to carry a lot more fruit and vegetables.” Under his arrangement, Too Good to Go takes a cut of roughly $1.25 per $5 bag and Carl’s Convenience pays about $50 a month to be on the app. He gets his payout quarterly. “It’s usually around $150 to $200,” he says. It’s a financial incentive to go along with the feel-good factor of saving food from going to waste.

Sam Kashani

Carl Gernhaelder

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOO GOOD TO GO CANADA

2 0 2 3 S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y R E P O R T

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Revving up to the electric age One of the big investments c-store chains are making to help governments and consumers reduce their GHG emissions is in bringing them cleaner fuels and EV charging. Parkland, for instance, is in the midst of rolling out one of the largest ultra-fast EV charging networks in Western Canada. Spanning 50 locations across its On the Run stores, the EV-charging network “will stretch from Vancouver Island to Calgary,” says Parkland’s chief sustainability officer Christy Elliott. “Charging stations will be located at intervals that help eliminate range anxiety for our customers, deliver up to a 200-kilowatt charge and can charge most EV models within 20 to 30 minutes,” she adds. A number of sites are open now. According to Statistics Canada, zero-emission vehicles in the third quarter of 2022 comprised 8.7% of total new motor vehicle registrations (34,313), a record high. While seeing a steep year-over-year decline of 17% during the same period, new registrants of gasoline-powered vehicles still had an 80.9% share. To that end, Parkland is among the Canadian chains investing in low-carbon fuel production. Since 2017, it has been scaling the ability to co-process Canadian-made renewable feedstocks such as canola or tallow with conventional crude oil to manufacture low-carbon fuels.

This past year, Parkland’s refinery in Burnaby, B.C. became the first refinery in the world to co-process tall oil, which takes waste from pulp mills and converts it into fuel. “We accelerated our production of low-carbon fuels and co-processed 111 million litres, which was the equivalent of taking more than 100,000 cars off the road,” says Elliott. Parkland has committed to reduce customers’ GHG emissions by 1 metric tonne a year by 2026. “This is the equivalent of removing over 750,000 cars off the road,” she adds. In 2022, Couche-Tard opened its 1,000th electronic vehicle charging station in Europe. It now has more than 240 sites with EV chargers on the continent and has also sold more than 9,756 charging units for the home, community-sharing and office. It also offers customers in Norway a product called Circle K Strøm (“Circle K Power”)— electricity generated from identifiable, renewable sources, such as wind and

Parkland, is looking for a location to build “the electric charging station of the future and create a world-class experience for EV drivers”

The prototype is from James Silvester, a Scotland-based architect, who was the winner of a global competition Parkland sponsored to reimagine the customer experience for EV drivers.

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May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

solar power. “We’re now bringing the knowledge we have gained in Europe to North America,” says Helena Winberg, Couche-Tard’s director of global sustainability. The Laval, Que.-based company expects to have EV fast chargers at 200 Circle K and Couche-Tard locations in Canada and the U.S. by 2024. It already has a number in Canada, while the U.S. is further behind, with just a handful. Their rollout will have an impact on store design and merchandise mix, given the EV customer spends considerably more time at a site than if just pumping gas. This presents a business opportunity to grow revenue and improve the customer experience. “What we have learned from Norway is EV customers want broader food options, including fresh fruit, and areas to sit or work. Families also would like a place for their kids, whether an outdoor playground or something inside,” says Winberg. “We have already built some of these stores and are bringing it to more locations in Europe and, of course, North America.” “It will definitely be a transition,” she adds. Parkland, meanwhile, is looking for a location to build “the electric charging station of the future and create a worldclass experience for EV drivers.” Named “More with Less,” the design features the use of environmentally friendly materials and a modular design that can service large or small stations. It also includes amenities like On the Run c-stores, high-quality dining and outdoor spaces. The prototype is from James Silvester, a Scotland-based architect, who was the winner of a global competition Parkland sponsored to reimagine the customer experience for EV drivers. Regional c-store chains are also making plans to add EV chargers. MacEwen, which has 103 corporately owned gas/Quickie convenience stores and 85 dealer-operated gas stations under the MacEwen banner in eastern Ontario and Quebec, is “working on adding EV stations,” says the chain’s director of marketing Kirsten Ross. “We are still in the planning process.” CSNC

PHOTO COURTESY OF PARKLAND

2 0 2 3 S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y R E P O R T

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2nd Annual

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS! Making an impact

Your industry is filled with companies making a positive impact and it’s time to shine a light on those efforts!

The Convenience Stores News Canada Impact Awards will recognize initiatives introduced by retailers, suppliers and solution providers that are making a meaningful difference, from helping the planet to supporting employees and communities. The goal is to celebrate companies—large or small—making a positive impact across four key areas:

• Sustainability (initiatives around food waste, ethical sourcing, energy efficiency etc.) • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion • Supporting Employees • Community Service/Local Impact/Giving Back There is no fee to nominate (you can even nominate in multiple categories), and honourees will be featured in Convenience Store News Canada magazine and online this fall. Tell the industry about the amazing work being done at your company!

Deadline to Enter: May 31 Nominate now! CSNCImpactAwards.com


TOP OPS BY WENDY HELFENBAUM

Burdened with too many tasks? Outsourcing HR can free you up to grow your business

Juggling multiple responsibilities such as recruiting employees, processing payroll, and following evolving government regulations can be a heavy lift. So, it’s not surprising that c-store and gas operators find it challenging to run their business while dealing with the complexities of human resources. But with the average annual salary for a full-time HR director hovering north of $115,000, according to Glass Door, most small and medium-sized businesses end up shouldering the load. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to outsource or automate most HR operations, saving you money, time, and resources you can then apply elsewhere. Depending on your pain points and the size of your business, an outside HR expert can take over things like benefits administration, time tracking, performance management, accounting and staff training. You can also delegate more complex tasks including policy development, compliance management and labour law issues. Getting some relief In the six years since Susan Jensen has owned Duchess Station in Duchess, Alta., she became tired of trying to understand evolving governmental

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regulations and tracking down paperwork. “Because we’re an independent, we don’t have the backing of a department or people who focus on those sorts of things, and I don’t have the expertise or the interest in it,” explains Jensen, who has 10 part-time employees. Instead, she bought some peace of mind: About two years ago, Jensen hired a local company, HR Covered, to handle tasks she was eager to offload. “They monitor what the government’s doing, and I get a newsletter to see what’s new in Alberta, and then they take care of all the compliance and policy stuff. For example, when Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis wanted a tobacco policy, we got a policy for tobacco,” recalls Jensen. “When I want to hire a new person, I send them that person’s email and they send out what they need, like the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. Employees do the courses online, so I don’t have to worry about it. If I have any issues or need to fire anybody, I have a designated representative to say, ‘Here’s what you need to do.’” Shrinking your to-do list Outsourcing HR allows c-store and gas

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

operators to improve and streamline their processes while mitigating risk, says Wendy Giuffre, CPHR, president of Wendy Ellen Inc. in Calgary. That usually begins with creating a basic HR infrastructure that includes a set of policies. “Typically, a business will have a code of conduct and code of ethics with things like vacation policies, leave of absence policies, hours of work, overtime,” explains Giuffre, who is the co-author of The Only HR Best Practice You’ll Ever Need. “We look after the nuts and bolts of everything, whether it’s performance management around setting goals or providing feedback. We have some clients where we do everything from running their payrolls, benefits and administration, to onboarding. We often implement a basic HR information system where all the information is held electronically at everybody’s fingertips.” Giuffre’s team can also help with crisis management. Their licensed investigators can step in if there’s an incident of harassment or violence, she adds. A chance to focus on strategic planning and growth “As a business owner, you need to be out there, working on your business, not working in your business,” advises Tanya Sieliakus, CEO and founder of HR pros Inc. in Halifax. “While franchises often provide paper support, it doesn’t often translate into tactical support for franchise owners.” To alleviate some of that stress, outsourced HR pros can build tools and processes that educate small business owners about everything from recruitment to employee onboarding and management so they can replicate the experience and apply best practices, says Sieliakus, who encourages small business owners to think about HR as a system custom-built for them.

PHOTO COURTESTY OF DUCHESS STATION

With 10 part-time employees, Susan Jensen, who owns Duchess Station in Duchess, Alta., hired a local company to streamline HR operations and allow her to focus on the day-to-day of her business

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“It will be simple, easily managed and easily administered. We will train you how to use it, and then hopefully when you call us, it’ll be for something else so that you can spend your time as the face of your business, growing your business,” she says. Do your homework to find the right provider Before hiring an HR outsourcing firm or purchasing software solutions, think about the internal operations you need taken care of and research options online, suggests Giuffre. Some of the things to inquire about include whether an external HR company has industry-specific knowledge that applies to your business, whether they offer onsite assistance, online support or both, and how they plan to create processes that meet your needs. Check references and read online reviews to get a better idea if a thirdparty provider is right for you and see if they’re open to a pilot project to assess the fit. You’ll also want to verify the terms to see if you’ll be locked

into a contract, can access à la carte services or get a bundled monthly package with the services you require. There are also many cloud-based HR solutions c-store operators can lean on for everything from talent management and performance reviews to risk-management support and policy compliance—including Folks HR, Cangaroo, Matchr and HRdownloads. An HR consultant can help you decide on the best fit and thanks to their networks they can probably find you the best deal, too. “Look at what your need is and then match the services. From there, it’s price and fit,” says Giuffre. There are different pricing models Because many HR outsourcing services base their fees on a client’s needs and number of employees, costs can vary widely. However, most consultants offer project-based rates, monthly retainers or multi-year contracts. Giuffre says a standard set of policies costs about $2,500. With a

retainer package, she includes an offer letter and onboarding process, which would otherwise cost $350. “We also have a subscription service where you get access to online templates you complete to suit your business, plus up to five hours of complimentary consulting a month,” she adds. “Our templates are updated to reflect provincial and federal legislative changes. For businesses with 15 people or less, that’s a good solution.” Sieliakus offers similar packages, plus a project-based rate, a small business rate, a discounted notfor-profit rate and a mid-size and government rate. “Our small business rate is $150 to $160 an hour,” she notes. For many c-stores, bringing in an expert that can jump right in and provide top-notch help can streamline business operations, reduce the risk of compliance issues and fast-track onboarding so new employees can quickly get up to speed—a sound investment for sure. CSNC

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Thirst for health

When stocking your coolers, ride the wave of popularity for enhanced waters with vitamins and other good-for-you ingredients

It’s about offering an alternative to still water and keeping current with wellness trends, including a desire for plant-based hydration, she notes. “Consumers continue to seek functional benefits in every-day hydration, as well as botanical flavours and sustainable sourcing. These trends are driving the category forward.” Moran says data shows 55% of Canadians are consuming beverages with added functional ingredients for added health benefits. Also, 52% of Canadians consider “free of artificial ingredients” to be an important claim—a key differentiator for Bai. “The category is still in its beginning stage,” she says. “There are a ton of new entrants, so the enhanced flavoured water market is still developing. We see many emerging smaller players coming into it, ourselves being just one of them. Enhanced water will drive growth within the flat-water category.”

Heading into summer, the thirst for healthy water seems unquenchable. The category is estimated to grow about 10% from 2022 to 2028, according to a report from UnivDatos Markets Insights. By comparison, regular bottled water is expected to have a sales increase of just 2% in Canada for 2023. Consumers are looking for extra perks from their H2O, from vitamin hits to less sugar and clean ingredients. Players big and small have taken notice and raised the stakes with high-profile launches, innovative flavours and celebrity clout. Wellness trends Keurig Dr Pepper made ripples in the healthy water category in 2021 with

22

the introduction of Bai Antioxidant Infusion in five flavours. With just 10 calories, one gram of sugar, vitamins C and E, plus a tea leaf extract, it struck a chord with consumers. Though still in its infancy as a brand, it was named Product of the Year 2023 within the enhanced water category, based on votes from Canadian consumers. “When we first launched, we saw that consumers were most interested in natural ingredients and health benefits,” says Julissa Moran, brand manager, Keurig Dr Pepper. “They were striving for those better-foryou products, looking for things like minerals from their water. That’s where Bai came in, positioning itself as a naturally flavoured water beverage.”

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

Flavour innovation New flavours are also keeping sales flowing. Since the initial launch, Bai has introduced a Costa Rica Clementine SKU and a Zambia Bing Cherry one, which has already performed very well in the U.S. market where it has been sold for a decade. With 67% of North Americans saying they consider themselves adventurous when it comes to trying new products, flavour innovation is crucial for giving consumers fresh reasons to buy enhanced waters. Star power And add to the mix, a bit of celebrity razzle dazzle to make brands stand out from the pack. Propel has Michael B. Jordan. Smartwater has partnered with Pete Davidson and Bai will add star power with Sydney Sweeney from HBO’s Euphoria for a summer

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promotion running from April to September. Boost visibility To ride this wave of interest, c-store operators should ensure enhanced waters are visible to customers in key areas, says Moran. “They can amplify the buy by creating more secondary locations.” That means having a selection near areas where ready-to-eat meals are sold, as well as coolers at the checkout. While big players like Coke and Pepsi often own those coolers, some retailers, like Save-on-Foods, are allowing vendors to bid on the space, giving smaller companies a chance to gain visibility. Timothy Dwyer, chief revenue officer of Flow Water, suggests that convenience channels allocate more space to better-for-you waters to take advantage of their attractive margins, as health-conscious consumers shift away from carbonated drinks. Earlier this year, Flow VitaminInfused Spring Water launched in Canada, backed by consumer feedback

Six in 10 (61%) of c-store shoppers consider themselves to be health-conscious, according to the 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study and insight from Flow-led surveys. “The demand to provide a product that is a healthier alternative to similar products in the functional water category was there, making this an obvious next step for Flow,” he says. Three hero flavours—cherry, citrus and elderberry—kicked off its entry into the market. They have 120% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and are an excellent source of zinc, plus minerals, electrolytes, high alkalinity, and zero sugar, calories or preservatives. They’re also made with organic certified ingredients. The enhanced water category has broad appeal and consumers are willing to pay more for these types of products, notes Dwyer, and sustainability is top of mind. Flow products come in 100% recyclable

Tetra Pak cartons, made with up to 75% renewable materials and have a plant-based cap. To boot, they’re also responsibly sourced and designed to have a low carbon footprint. “Flow’s sustainability ethos hones in on the fact that the water consumers choose can make a positive impact for our planet and our communities,” he adds. Looking ahead, expect to see the popularity of enhanced water to influence the soda market, incorporating functional benefits. Nova Scotia’s Cove Gut Healthy Soda launched in January and taps into gut health-boosting probiotics and prebiotics. The timing is right since soda sales have been down over the last couple of years. Being part of the goodfor-you movement, alongside healthy waters, is sure to make a splash. CSNC

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C-STORE

iQ

NATIONAL SHOPPER STUDY Purchasing Report: What’s inside the shopping bag? B Y M I C H E L L E WA R R E N

of gasoline), compared to $15.46 in last year’s report and $13.56 in 2019. What are they spending it on? Working with the research team at EnsembleIQ, Convenience Store News Canada surveyed more than 2,000 convenience shoppers across the country to find out. Now in its third year, the C-store IQ National Shopper Study is the only convenience and gas specific study delving into the ever evolving wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian consumers. For 2023, we doubled the number of participants to provide a more robust snapshot of Canada’s convenience landscape, with comprehensive coverage by age demographics and geographical locations.

‘Plastic’ remains the most common payment method, however mobile payments are on the rise, increasing significantly vs. a year ago. The driving force here is generation Z.

Credit card 34%

Spend during most recent in-store visit (not including fuel): Average $18.05

Chocolate, salty snacks and candy lead the way, however shoppers appear to be more interested in diversifying their basket, with purchase of a dozen categories increasing significantly vs. last year.

29% 49% 15%

20%

12% 18%

12% 14% 10% 17% 17%

Meat snacks

Snack packs

Grab-and-go

Branded fast food

Icecream

Sweet snacks

Gum / Mints

Salty snacks-full

Candy

Salty snacks-snack

Chocolate

16%

12% 16%

11% 11% 16% 15%

7% 13%

12%

8% 11%

6% 10% Functional foods

17%

Bread/rolls

21%

$10.00 to $30 or $29.99 more

Produce

Under $9.99

26%

Energy/ nutrition bars

29%

Made-to-order

32%

Nuts/trail mix

26% 32%

Debit card 36% 41%

Cash 20%

Food products purchased at a convenience store in past month 38%

Can’t recall 1%

Retailer’s Gift mobile app card 3% 2% 1% Mobile payment 5% 3%

Frozen food

Canadian c-store shoppers appear to be diversifying their baskets, with purchase rates for 12 food and 10 beverage categories way up compared to a year ago. Indicators are the purchasing habits of younger consumers are playing a role in driving these changes. While half of all shoppers (50%) visit a convenience store at least weekly, for younger generations popping into their favourite convenience store is a fundamental part of their daily routine: 46% of generation Z/ millennials report daily visits to what they perceive as chain stores and 43% shop daily at independent c-stores. Overall, visits to and spending at convenience remains strong. Shoppers spent an average of $18.06 on their most recent visit (excluding the costs

Payment type used on most recent convenience shopping trip

Significant increase / decrease

24

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

CCentral.ca


Non-food products purchased at a convenience store in past month Lottery tickets

44% 60% 42%

Gasoline 21%

Cigarettes 17% 13%

Gift cards Newspaper

12%

Personal (toiletries, cosmetics) 12% Non-edible grocery (cleaning paper)

11% 6%

OTC meds

11%

Magazine

9%

Phone cards

9%

Lottery tickets remain the most popular non-food purchase and the drop vs. a year ago is closer to the 53% that purchased lottery tickets at c-stores pre-pandemic (2019). Of note, baby boomers bought the most lottery tickets at convenience. Boomers and generation X also led the way in fuel purchases. From a geographic standpoint, shoppers in Atlantic Canada and Quebec bought more fuel than other provinces. Note that the purchase of gift cards, non-edible groceries, e-cigarettes and cigars increased significantly compared to a year ago.

Younger generations are more likely to shop for work-related or meal/snack occasions

Electronics/ mobile

9%

Automotive

9%

E-cig/vaping

9% 6%

Cigars

5% 3%

Gen Z & millennials

Gen X & boomers

37% 30% 26% 19% 18% 16% 15% 13%

21% 18% 16% 14% 7% 8% 5% 7%

Late night snack Afternoon snack/break Work or school commute Hot beverage/breakfast Lunch While working from home Dinner Business travel

Oral nicotine, snuff chew 4% Significant increase / decrease

The survey was fielded from December 7, 2022 – January 10, 2023 and responses were gathered from 2,008 convenience store shoppers 18 years and older. Quotas were imposed to ensure measurable base sizes for age generations and provinces or territories.

Beverage products purchased at a convenience store in past month

More C-store IQ data available online. https://ccentral.ca/

7% 7% Energy shots

7%

Non-alc beer/ cider/coolers

9%

Beverage alcohol

6% Funcional beverages

5% 9% Wine

13% Beer/cider/ coolers

15%

Watersparkling

15% 12% Frozen drink

15% Fountain drink

19% 13% 16% 12% Pkg iced tes/ coffee

100% fruit juice

21% 20% 17% 14%

Sport drinks

25% 21%

Hot beverage

Water-still

26%

Energy drinks

30%

Can/bottle pop

Milk

31% 38%

The only item to drop was milk—down 7 percentage points—likely due to the full lifting of pandemic-related shopping restrictions.

Significant increase / decrease

CCentral.ca

Convenience Store News Canada May | June 2023

25


Purchase frequency of items at c-store today vs last year Health and beauty care Edible grocery Other tobacco products Non-edible grocery Prepared food Cigarettes Hot dispensed beverages General merchandise Beer/wine/cider/coolers Packaged beverages Packaged snacks Cold/frozen dispensed beverages Candy/gum Significant increase / decrease

35% 27% 27% 27% 26% 22% 15% 21% 15% 21% 20% 20% 20% 20% 11% 18% 10%

55% 58% 56% 54% 55% 59% 71% 62% 60% 67% 63% 62% 56% 62%

More

11% 15% 18% 19% 19% 19% 17% 25% 18% 13% 17% 18% 24% 20% 31%

About same

As was the pattern in 2022, at least onefourth of shoppers report ‘more’ purchases of HBC, edible and non-edible grocery, other tobacco and prepared food. Further evidence of a return to normalcy, hot and dispensed beverages are being purchased ‘more’ by a significantly larger share of shoppers compared to last year.

Less

18%

Channels where shoppers purchase beer/wine/cider in typical month Provincial liquor/beer store 56% 67%

C-store 17%

Mass 11% 8%

Grocery 22%

Club 12% 8%

Discount supermarket 14% 11%

Restaurant bottle service 8%

Do not purchase beer/ wine/cider

Direct from brewery/ winery 11% 9% Specialty/ natural 5% 2%

Online 5%

56% of shoppers will purchase beer/wine/cider from a provincial liquor/beer store, distantly followed by grocery, convenience and discount supermarkets. As expected, due to provincial laws, more Quebec shoppers have the ability and do purchase from convenience, with 38% doing so compared to 10% of Ontario shoppers. Significant increase / decrease

Channels where shoppers purchase items in a typical month C-Store

Candy/gum Packaged snacks Cold/frozen dispensed beverages Hot dispensed beverages Packaged beverages Cigarettes Prepared food Other tobacco Edible grocery General merchandise Non-edible grocery Health and beauty care

Grocery

45% 26% 39% 45% 49% 37% 20% 31% 15%11% 33% 42%48% 25% 7% 17% 46%51% 18% 8%6% 11% 51%59% 13%9% 20% 8% 34% 7%4% 21%

Specialty/ Discount natural supermarket

Mass

Club

8% 5% 20% 25% 12% 9% 7% 34% 36% 19% 8% 5% 15%13% 16%12% 11%7% 8%5% 12%6% 14%9% 9%6% 8%5% 32% 34% 20% 5%3% 8%3% 7%4% 5% 10%7% 23%19% 23% 18% 7%4% 7%5% 8%5% 5% 11%7% 41% 38%42% 22% 7%5% 15%12% 41% 21% 8%6% 28% 38% 25% 8%6% 15%11% 33% 13%

Dollar

Drug

Online

27% 13% 4% 23% 15% 4% 8%5% 6% 3%1% 5%3% 4%2% 3%2% 18%14% 13% 3%2% 5% 3% 2% 1% 6%3% 4% 3% 1% 4% 2% 3% 3%2% 13% 10% 4% 24% 11% 12% 21%18% 17% 7%4% 11%8% 49%53% 7%

Do not purchase

10% 3% 24%32% 21%27% 5% 52%62% 12% 56%67% 3% 8% 3% 5%

C-stores continue to lead in traditional categories, including candy/gum, dispensed beverages and tobacco products; whole gains were seen in general merchandise and HBC. Significant increase / decrease

26

May | June 2023 Convenience Store News Canada

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