Octane English - Jul/Aug 2020

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COVID-19 creates a new normal in the forecourt

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JULY/ AUGUST 2020 Volume 25 | Number 4






Editor’s Message Going cashless


CFIB: Relief programs are evolving, but maybe not fast enough


Forecourt’s new normal COVID-19 has created tremendous change in the marketplace


Waste management Car wash waste demands a professional touch


Teamwork Calgary entrepreneur joins forces to create big box vehicle wash


COVER STORY Forecourt Performance Report 2020: More brands and greater independence


Featured Products New products, equipment and services


CCA Industry Forum


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Please contact Wright’s Media | ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com 1-877-652-5295 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. ©2020 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.

Going cashless The current trend away from cash in favour of plastic and digital forms of payment is gaining momentum. This rate of growth for cashless transactions is surprising given that currency is convenient, private, and it works well for those who cannot access banking services such as credit and debit cards. Cash is also widely available, with $92 billion in bills and coins in circulation at any given time. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, cash was in decline as the preferred monetary transaction format. Now, Interact reports that digital payment such as TAP has climbed 4% since March. The value of transactions also soared (17%) and first-time users of electronic funds transfer were up 62% over last year. The Retail Council of Canada has found that only 15% of Canadians regularly use bills and coins, a number that mirrors Sweden, a country where it is expected retailers will go cashless sometime before 2025. Indeed, many cafes and small businesses in Sweden no longer accept cash and some residents have even inserted EMV chips below the skin on fingers to make payment a simple as a hand swipe. Here in Canada, businesses such as car wash and gas bars are well placed to go this cash-free route and many have already done so. iWash, a new Calgary car wash site, elected to go cashfree from the beginning. Operator Kunal Patel tells us this made security and

banking easier and his customers have found it more convenient overall. In Ontario, Valet Car Wash was the first (2016) self-serve car wash in North America to use mobile cell phones as a method of payment and completely stopped accepting coins in their bays. At Valet locations customers simply scan a QR code in each bay with their phone, follow a couple of prompts and the bay will activate for the time purchased and a receipt can be sent right to phones. Organizations, such as The Bank of Canada, tell us that cash will remain king for small purchases under $5. Already, Canadians are proving them wrong and showing that for things like a cup of coffee or a quick wand wash they are prepared to just TAP and go. Expect this trend toward greater convenience to only grow as POS systems continue to upgrade. Look for more wash sites offering subscriptions that use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, credit card and debit TAP functions and pre-paid loyalty programs. Look as well for independent gas bars and chain operators to turn to mobile apps and greater digital connectivity as Canada’s cash goes electronic.

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Relief programs are evolving, but maybe not fast enough by Dan Kelly President & CEO Canadian Federation of Independent Business

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has pushed government to expand its COVID-19 relief programs since lockdowns began. We’ve made progress, but if small businesses are going to survive more must change.

■ CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT (CEBA) The CEBA program recently announced it would expand to include businesses with no payroll who have at least $40,000 in non-deferrable expenses. We pushed for this change for weeks—some of the smallest businesses cannot demonstrate a 2019 $20,000 payroll, while others pay dividends or employ contractors and so do not have a payroll. We are now pushing them to put a rush on delivering these changes to the program, as they have been set back by multiple delays. We know the CEBA loans have been a lifeline for many businesses, particularly because 25%of the loan is forgivable and can help cover fixed costs. However, small businesses are now taking on unsustainable amounts of debt and dipping into personal savings to cope. On average, small businesses have accrued more than $150,000 in debt. Our latest surveys find more than a third of business owners are using personal savings to finance their business due to the pandemic. We urge government to increase the amount business owners can borrow as an interest-free loan under CEBA and raise the forgivable portion from 25% to 50%.


Dan Kelly

■ CANADA EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE (CECRA) But without more rent relief, many businesses will still struggle. The CECRA program, which opened in late May, is not functioning as intended. Many landlords will not apply for it, while other businesses that need help do not meet the steep 70% revenue loss criteria. We’ve received hundreds of calls from both tenants and landlords frustrated over the process. Complaints range from complex attestation forms to technical difficulties with the online portal to excessive hold times. We’re asking government to fix the process in three ways. Government should allow a commercial tenant who qualifies but whose landlord does not wish to participate to access the 50% government portion directly. Government should also simplify the CECRA application process while lowering the revenue drop test. And though we’re pleased some provinces have suspended commercial evictions for tenants in otherwise good standing, we call on the remaining provinces to do the same.

■ CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY (CEWS) We were very pleased with the government’s decision to extend CEWS into June, July

and August. This will help many businesses recover while managing costs rising faster than revenues. However, government should consider lowering the 30% revenue drop test required to access CEWS so more small firms can access the program. Government should also consider a sliding scale—firms with smaller revenue losses could qualify for a smaller wage subsidy. All firms should have access to a 10% wage subsidy, with a subsidy of 25, 50 or 75% based on revenue losses of 5, 10 or 15%. Continuing to improve this program is essential as provinces reopen and businesses recall employees.

■ CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB) Despite record unemployment numbers, many small business owners are facing staffing challenges as workers collecting CERB may be reluctant to return to work. We support the federal government’s proposal to end CERB benefits for an employee who is offered their job back—barring COVID-19 related health issues. And our members agree. According to a recent survey, 82% of small firms believe CERB recipients should be required to actively look for work, like they would if they were on Employment Insurance, and 68% support workers retaining some CERB benefits while earning more than $1,000 per month. Governments have responded to our recommendations during the pandemic, and for that we thank them. However, there is still much work to be done. We must continue improving these programs and responding to the evolving needs of business owners as Canada endures COVID-19. OCTANE JULY/AUGUST 2020




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FORECOURT’S NEW NORMAL COVID-19 has created tremendous change in the marketplace By Kelly Gray


Canadian convenience, car wash and gas businesses worked hard to keep staff and customers safe during COVID-19. Behind the effort has been a push from major retailers to enhance operational practices and from equipment manufacturers that sped design and production to meet the public health challenge. Canadian Tire was an early adopter of PPE for customers. When the virus hit, Canadian Tire sites used disposable glove dispensers to help customers stay safe at its gas bars. At Petro-Canada and 7-Eleven sites, they didn’t offer gloves, but fuel dispensers came with a placard that asked customers to use paper towels to keep hands from touching gas dispenser nozzles. At 7-Eleven, operators also changed how they handle cash. Certainly, customers

can utilize the Pay-at-the-Pump features at the dispenser, but in-store, customers are asked to place cash on counters so that hands do not touch. When the sale is complete, staff sanitize the area ahead of the next customer. Shell is another major that has taken action to safeguard staff and customers. According to Shell Canada spokesperson Kristen Schmidt, the company has installed plexiglass at payment counters, added floor signage to maintain physical distance, and enhanced cleaning procedures. “We also have the Shell app, available in the Apple app store and Google Play store, which includes Shell EasyPay. This is a secure and touchless way for customers to pay for their purchases at the pump or in-store. We recognize that customers may wish to limit interactions at this time and practice safe social distancing, which can easily be accommodated through Shell EasyPay.” MAY/JUNE 2020


Helping staff work safe McCowan now offers acrylic screens for retail and service desk personnel, as well as stands and supports for hand sanitizers.

Other Shell initiatives include recommendations laid out by the World Health Organization and the Public Health Authority of Canada. Schmidt points to six key items.

Esso and Mobil service station personnel have been tasked to make sure sites in Canada are frequently cleaned and sanitized - from fuel nozzles to store countertops to door handles.





Floor signage to help customers maintain physical distance.


Installing plexiglass shields at payment counters.


Recommending sales associates stay home and follow public health guidelines if they are feeling unwell.


Sourcing additional masks and gloves for service champions and providing disinfectant wipes and gels for use by staff and customers (in markets where supply is available).


Increasing the frequency of cleaning, particularly in areas that are often touched by customers and staff.


Offering touchless payment alternatives for customers such as Shell EasyPay in the Shell app.

At Esso and Mobil stations the company worked alongside its independent branded retailers to ensure the customer experience was safe and convenient. Imperial Oil is present in the market with 21 fuel terminals and more than 2,000 Esso and Mobil sites across Canada. According to Jon Harding, public affairs advisor, Imperial Oil, Esso and Mobil service station personnel have been tasked to make sure sites in Canada are frequently cleaned and sanitized - from fuel nozzles to store countertops to door handles. “When at the pump, we encourage customers to

leverage the mobile payment option through the Speedpass+ app to reduce contact with surfaces. We also recognize the importance of and, where appropriate, are striving to provide services to essential service providers, such as truck drivers. Specific to cardlock sites, we enhanced our online Esso cardlock locator tool for truckers and made it easier to identify cardlock sites and call ahead for information about facilities.”

Help at hand Like retailers and fuel distributors, equipment manufacturers have been quick to come forward with much-needed innovation. These products have greatly helped retailers keep up their guard on cleanliness and site performance. Fixture fabricator Gorrie RCP, a frontline company that designs, develops, and builds tailor-made waste and recycling management products, as well as amenity fixtures and merchandising displays, got to work early on a range of personal protection equipment (PPE) for staff at c-store, car wash and gas bar. According to Gorrie’s business development manager, David McLean, the company had to speed up production to meet the sudden demand. “Normally we take about four weeks to design, engineer and manufacture a product. We cut that down to two weeks. Many of our customers are essential services and we had to get products to them to keep them safe,” says McLean mentioning that face shields were the first offering followed by hand sanitizing stations. “At first people were looking for temporary solutions, but as the challenge grew it could be seen that more permanent solutions were necessary. The COVID-19 CCentral.ca

crisis is one that will be with us for the next couple of years at least. We are seeing that consumer behaviours have changed and retailers need to offer a higher level of safety to make customers feel secure. Our teams are actively looking at not only what is needed now, but we have to look to the future for products that will be needed tomorrow as well as we continue to face great change in our society.” Gorrie RCP offers a range of PPE that includes distancing signage, clear plastic partitions, sanitizer gels and hand washing stations, as well as masks and face shields. RTS Retail is another manufacturer that came forward quickly with protective equipment during COVID-19. According to Darren Norley, national accounts manager, RTS Retail, the company has been making protective gear for years before the novel coronavirus made itself known. One example is CitrusWirx a line that has been helping grocery and convenience shoppers keep carts and baskets virus-free for years. Now, this product is at the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. “In the last three months we have seen demand soar for sanitary wipes and other items,” says Norley remarking that sales for things like CitrusWirx have climbed 700% over the past three months. “We have been able to supply our regular customers with PPE, but even with three factories (Canada, U.S., China) demand was so great we had to step up production and it was a challenge to fully meet this increase.” RTS Retail also offers GrabWirx, a protective glove system that is ideal for gas stations where dispenser and windshield wiper handles can carry COVID-19. GrabWirx dispenses up to 200 gloves in a touch-free environment. “We are seeing sectors such as grocery retail now preparing for future health crisis scenarios similar to the current COVID-19 problem,” says Norley. “They don’t want to get caught empty-handed again without proper PPE. The cost is small compared to the size of the problem to business.” McCowan Design and Manufacturing, a Canadian leader in-store fixtures and displays for convenience, gas bar and foodservice as well as a range of other retail environments, quickly added new virus safety-related products to their lineup. Helping staff work safe McCowan now offers acrylic screens for retail and service desk personnel ,as well as stands and supports for hand sanitizers. The new hand sanitizer stands can accommodate a variety of hand sanitizer bottle sizes and can be set up as a freestanding or wall-mounted unit. Stands can also handle dispensers or bottles and stands come with the ability to lock sanitizer into place to prevent thefts. The acrylic screens are made using 1/4-inch acrylic sheets and come with a solid metal base. Overall size is 40” X 23” X 12” with a large 8.5” X 12” pass-through. “The ways that convenience store and gas bars offer safety and protection to their customers tell people volumes about the overall service at hand,” says Anthony Ruffolo, vice-president McCowan Design and Manufacturing. “Having a prominently displayed hand sanitizer during these challenging times is a simple way to tell customers you value their business and you are a responsible community member. It’s not an expensive service add on and it says you care.” OCTANE


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Car wash waste demands a professional touch By Kelly Gray The waste at your car wash site is your responsibility. This is the message from provincial regulators as well as key players in Canada’s waste industry. Good waste management is not only good for the environment, it’s just good business. “Car wash operators have to do their homework when it comes to maintaining the drainage systems of their sites,” says Leanne Whittaker, general manager, Liquid/Hydrovac Division, GFL Environmental, a leading North American provider of diversified environmental solutions. She suggests that operators are sometimes confused about regulations and their responsibilities as business owners. “We often find ourselves in the situation where we have to explain the legalities of waste management to a business owner that sees hauling effluent as being something that can be skirted.” Her colleague Michael Tersigni, commercial territory sales manager, GFL Environmental adds that often he sees wash companies try to stretch out the length of time between car wash catch basins and interceptor pump-outs. “This can end up with car washes having blocked lines and floods, problems that end up costing more money,” he says, noting that a site that was overdue for service can discover they require more waste sludge to be removed, and more time to ensure a clean and properly flowing system. “Blockages caused by sludge and overcapacity interceptors and/or holding tanks can sometimes cause floods or other issues in the system. This means the site has to be shut longer while work is underway and cars are not getting cleaned. When cars are not being cleaned operators don’t make money,” says Whittaker, who notes that a standard-sized operation could see vacuum trucks take about two hours to complete a typical waste removal service. Operators are charged an hourly rate plus the amount of effluent tonnage. She suggests operators look to see the times when car washes are least busy and schedule waste pickups accordingly. When service providers arrive, operations need to be shut down. The greater the amount of sludge or blockages to clear, the longer the site is closed to business. Both Tersigni and Whittaker point out that companies such as GFL Environmental don’t enforce the regulations, rather they advise, seek understanding and help establish best practices. “Proper maintenance and due diligence are key operational practices,” says Tersigni. “Be proactive and don’t wait for something to happen.”





“A well-maintained car wash will provide efficiencies because the system is better able to do the job it was designed to do,” says Whittaker, mentioning that smaller more frequent pickups are better. “If there are build-ups of heavy sludge and oil, and the system is not flowing, our crews have to spend more time on-site and this costs operators more in the long run. Having tanks that are higher than 50% often means overflow pipes are already full.” Here, Michael Tersigni notes that having a professional company undertake the work has its advantages. “Only licensed and regulated operators can legally transport and dispose of waste from car washes. We have every tool in the shed and can handle whatever challenge the service demands, from flushing and snaking blockages to camera scoping collapsed lines. We also have to deal with a wide range of provincial and municipal regulations. Ultimately the waste being removed is the responsibility of the car wash operator and any issues with the disposal of the waste could potentially subject the operator to scrutiny.”


HIGH STANDARD OF MAINTENANCE IS ESSENTIAL Key to success in car wash site waste management is attention to separator/interceptor systems. The Canadian Fuels Association offers these eight points to keep systems running smoothly. 1 The sampling ports should be readily and easily accessible at all times. A sampling port may consist of a simple tee or an opening for a pump sampling tube. 2 The sediment pits and oil/water separators should be inspected four times per year. The depth of bottom sludge and floating oils should be measured. 3 The solids in the sedimentation pit(s) should not exceed 50% of the wetted height of the sedimentation pit. (As solids build up in the bottom of the pit, efficiency of the pit decreases and the chance of sludge passing through the interceptor increases.)

4 Settled solids in the oil/water separator(s) should not be left to accumulate in excess of the lesser of 15 cm or 25% of the wetted height of the oil/ water separator. 5 Floating oil and grease in the oil/ water separator(s) should not be left to accumulate in excess of the lesser of 5 cm or 5% of the wetted height of the oil/water separator. Due to the volatile nature of some oils, solvents and fuels, these materials should not be left to accumulate as they can cause health and safety concerns. (Also, the efficiency of the interceptor decreases with increasing levels of floating material). 6 The sediment pits and oil/water separators should be cleaned out within seven days if during an inspection the measured amounts exceed the criteria noted in the three points above.

7 Sediment pits and oil/water separators should be cleaned at least once every six months. Three compartment sediment pits and oil/water separators should be cleaned out at least annually regardless of the amount of oil or solids. This will ensure that sediment pits and oil/water separators receive at least a minimum level of maintenance on a regular basis. When sediment pits and oil/water separators are cleaned, the oil and grease or solids should not be disposed of into a sewer connected to a sewage facility or in any location where it may be introduced to a storm sewer or a watercourse. Clean out should be done by a provincially licensed and approved waste collector. 8 Hot water, detergents, solvents or any other chemical agents should not be used to flush oil out of the oil/ water separator. OCTANE

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TEAMWORK Calgary entrepreneur joins forces to create big box vehicle wash By Kelly Gray







Calgary’s new iWash is big. The Barlow Trail multi-service site owned and operated by Kunal Patel opened in June 2019 and today offers the largest commercial vehicle wash bays in the city, as well as automatic rollover and wand wash bays for regular vehicles. Patel, a savvy businessman who owns other enterprises, including a construction company, saw the need for a wash facility that could accommodate the largest transport trucks. He researched and found the location in Northeast Calgary in 2017. “I knew I wanted to own a car wash because Calgary is a great location because of the weather we get here, it’s a good cash flow business, and if designed and operated well has low overhead costs. I saw a need for an independent wash facility that could handle commercial fleets, RV’s, trailers, cars, et cetera,” says Patel, mentioning that development costs for the 13,000-sq.ft. business stood around $5.5 million. “The Northeast area is under-serviced and I could see there were trucking companies and many warehouses and distribution centers in the area. The location was ideal because of the easy access to two main roadway arteries in Calgary; Deerfoot Trail and Stoney Trail just minutes away from iWash. I bought the land, designed the site, and built the facility, all internally within my family business.” Patel sought out simplicity in the process. “I handled the general contracting and architectural scope and then brought knowledgeable engineers and consultants into the project. I decided to go with Mark VII as my car wash supplier because they brought a lot of experience and they offered a one-stop-shop where I didn’t have CCentral.ca

to deal with multiple vendors. They helped with design, layouts, and took care of the equipment procurement and placement. This made the development process a lot easier,” he says remarking that they closed on the land deal in the spring of 2017 and opened for business spring of 2019. Here, Mark VII Canada general manager, Chris Armena, comments that they were able to bring a lot to the table. “We supplied the machinery, worked with ancillary manufacturers such as BayWatch Doors and Exacta payment systems and handled all the chemicals,” says Armena. He reports that they were able to bring their Denver-based engineering department into the mix. “This was very valuable from a planning standpoint. Once we had the drawings from the architect we were able to offer design advice that enabled efficiencies in the building footprint. Our team has a lot of experience and this made the development easier,” says Armena, remarking that although Patel had great knowledge and experience with land development and construction, he was new to the car wash industry and the site required everything. “When Kunal and I started talking the location was just a brownfield!” On offer now at iWash are two roll-over systems (one Choice Wash and one SoftTouch Wash), four self serve wand wash bays and two massive 120-foot truck bays with multiple high-pressure stations inside. Mark VII’s Choice Wash gives customers the choice to choose between touchless, soft-touch or both wash options. There is also a four-unit vacuum area. Everything is 24-hour accessible and the site is entirely cashless and designed for the ultimate in vehicle washing convenience.

SPEC SHEET: Roll Over Wash Systems: MarkVII Choice Wash and Soft Touch Self Service Wand Wash: Mark VII Doors: Sets of 10'2" x 10' BayWatch Polycarbonate Doors with IntelliWatch Premium Door Package/All electric with remote monitoring system POS: Exacta, BayMaster Tap & EMV Cashless Teller RFID added to the units used at the 2 rollovers and Truck Wash Bays Chemicals: All Mark VII Chemicals: ShineTecs, FoamTecs (Lava Foam) Dryers: Mark VII Aquadri Dryer System Vacuum: Fragramatics SVSR/SVSR-P with shampoo and spot remover

“I’m the only independent truck wash operator in the area,” says Patel. “There are two other independent car washes and a chain site located nearby who I compete with, but they offer different services and since iWash has the largest truck bays in the area and city, it’s something they don’t have, this allows us to stand out. We’re located in a new subdivision and are the first in the area so we stand out as a destination wash business offering exceptional quality and customer service.” Patel comments that in his truck bay customers often take anywhere from ten to forty-five plus minutes to clean off their rigs. “Operators find that dirty trucks are heavier and use more fuel and there are regulations to have trucks kept clean. We are the only place in the area where drivers can get this done. So far even though our business has slowed because of the novel coronavirus we are fortunate and thankful to have been stable with our independent and corporate truck business,” he says. MAY/JUNE 2020

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Even though the 120-foot truck bays are massive, the high-pressure wand wash system itself is compact. For example, Armena reports that the equipment room uses a small 56-inch by 24-inch footprint to house four pumps for the four wands in the truck wash bays. In the automatic bays, Mark VII’s Choice Wash allows customers to decide whether they want the ease of a touchless wash where high-pressure spray removes grime without brushes rubbing paint surfaces, or a soft-touch wash with closed-cell, soft foam technology providing scratch and residue-free washes. The Choice Wash machine is somewhat unique in combining both complete soft-touch and complete touchless capabilities in a single rollover system, giving customers the choice that suits their preference. And, while the efficacy of the system to clean cars and trucks is essential to customer satisfaction, Patel reports that he wanted to use chemicals that had a positive environmental impact. In the roll-over bays, customers get an initial spray of bug wash and pre-soak, then a rinse and soak as well as an undercarriage bath. The site also uses a soapy foam curtain and Shine Tecs to deliver a winning package that brings customers back. Shine Tecs offers polymers that instantly clarify paint finish. When buffed in, micro compounds generate a deeper gloss shine. It gives a hand wax quality, outperforms ceramic coatings and even repairs minor damage to paint surfaces. “We tend to suggest brushes in combination with easy-on-the-environment chemicals,” says Armena. “This way the chemicals work better with less power. We don’t advise strong pre-soaks and go with

more dwell time to achieve the best wash.” In these challenging times when businesses seek contactless payment from customers, iWash is a step ahead. According to Patel he sought to create a cashless business from the very start. “With cashless payment, there are no coins to collect and security is less of a concern,” he says, mentioning customers can pay via credit and debit as well as ApplePay and GooglePay in addition to pre-loaded iWash loyalty cards. “Its as simple as tap, wash and go. Also, commercial customers no longer have to worry about drivers having receipts for washes. We track usage and send a monthly invoice. Everything is handled via our Exacta software and menu board system that makes product selection and payment easy.” The overarching idea has been to create a vehicle wash business that is simple, effective and efficient, all while offering the highest wash quality and customer satisfaction. Consider that iWash uses only one employee to manage the entire site. They clean the bays, perform maintenance and handle any customer requests, such as offer receipts to those who need them. “If needed, I can watch the entire operation via remote monitoring,” says Patel. “We have good camera placement and I can access operation systems such as the overhead doors, or lock the office if there is a problem after staff leave.” Concluding, Patel remarks that while iWash is big, the process to get it underway was not unwieldy. “It was a team effort, everyone working together to design, build and now operate a fantastic and huge wash site with the biggest truck bays in the city!” OCTANE CCentral.ca

Forecourt Performance Report 2020 More brands and greater independence Choice is now a greater option for both Canada’s motoring public and retail fuel operators, with more independent petroleum brands and fewer refinery controlled sites coast to coast to coast. This was a key finding in this year’s National Petroleum Site Census, a watershed study that is done each year by The Kent Group Ltd.


Forecourt Performance Report 2020

Based in London, Ontario, The Kent Group Ltd. is a data-driven consultancy that is a leading authority on fuel sector marketing, economics, performance measurement and benchmarking, as well as price/margin reporting/analysis, regulation, and industry economic research and analysis. Since 2004 The Kent Group Ltd. has been the go-to organization for the latest and most complete set of data that describes Canada’s retail fueling sector. According to Jason Parent, managing director, The Kent Group, the census illustrates a continued diversity of brands of gasoline in Canada with a documented 93 different "brands" of gas. “Although the refined products sold by these brands originate primarily from 14 refineries in Canada, operated by nine refining organizations (six of which are integrated refiner-marketers) the brands represented by these refining organizations account for just over 60% of all sites in Canada, virtually unchanged in the last 15 years,” he says. The report discovered that the posted brand at a gas station is becoming less indicative of the marketer relationship or ownership at that site. For example, in 2019, over 40% of the fuel marketers in Canada were operating a portion of their network under a brand owned by another company, representing 37% of stations in Canada, up from just 6% 15 years ago. “These marketers typically operate under a branded supply agreement with the brand owner (often a refiner such as Shell or Esso), benefitting from the brand recognition, marketing support, and loyalty programs of the established brand.” Altogether, 67 distinct companies market gasoline in Canada. Of these companies, 60 sell at least a portion of their fuels under their brands, representing 52% of Canadian stations, down from 83% of sites in 2004.

Currently, operators tend to have more control over pricing than at any time in the past 15 years. Consider that in 2004 only 22% (3,124 stations) were non-refiner marketer controlled. Last year this number had climbed to 33% (3,971 stations). The uncontrolled non-refiner segment also grew. Indeed, the growth expanded from 22% (3,042 stations) in 2004 to 27% (3,231 stations) in 2019.

Share of Market by Number of Outlets – by Brand 2019

Share of Market by Number of Outlets – by Marketer 2019

2019 Retail outlets per 10,000 population BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL YT NT CAN 2.7 3.54 5.87 4.33 2.24 3.60 5.63 4.18 5.48 7.38 13.71 11.15 3.18

Esso 16.7%

Others 29.8%

Others 32.5% Petro-Canada 13.0%

Shell 11.3%

Pioneer 1.4% Fas Gas 1.6%

Mobil 1.9% Canadian Tire 2.5%


Suncor Energy 10.7%

Wilson Fuel Co. 2.0%

CoucheTard 9.6%

BG Fuels 2.0% Canadian Tire 2.5%

Chevron 1.6%


Parkland Fuel 16.2%

Husky Co-op 3.1% 3.9%


Irving 3.9%

Ultramar 6.7%

Shell Canada 6.2%

FilgoSonic 2.5% 7-Eleven 3.2%

Husky Energy 3.4%

Harnois 3.6%

Sobeys 3.6%

Federated Cooperatives 4.7%


Measuring the Shift - Control vs. Non-Controlled Sites by Marketer Type

2,508 2508 21% 21%

3,231 3231 27% 27%

2019 2019

3,971 3971 33% 33%

2,227 19%

4,494 4494 32% 32%

3,124 3124 22% 22%

Marketer Uncontrolled

• Integrated Refiner Marketer Controlled

2004 2004 3,042 3042 22% 22%

• Integrated Refiner

• Non-Refiner 3,316 24%

Marketer Uncontrolled

• Non-Refiner

Marketer Controlled

The retail gasoline marketplace is dominated by self-serve gas bars – 80.8% of reported outlets operate in this manner. Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant shift away from full-serve offerings with declines of 36% since 2004.






Historical gasoline retail outlet counts


| 17

Forecourt Performance Report 2020

Greater efficiency Canada’s gas stations have enhanced their efficiency over the past 20 years. The result has been an ever-increasing amount of fuel pumped per outlet. Kent reports that the average throughput for stations last year was 3.93 million litres.





















































Historical Canada-average Throughputs (Millions of Litres)

This 20-year uptick is a result of a long-term rise in petroleum demand coupled with a long-term decline in the number of retail outlets. “This trend has slowed in recent years and the near-zero increase from 2019 could signal a change that is set to begin in the fuels’ marketplace, one that will likely experience decreasing levels of demand for gasoline –a result of factors including improved fuel economy standards, an increase in alternative fuel vehicles in the automotive fleet, and changing consumer attitudes and preferences towards ride-sharing, public transit, or other alternatives,” says Parent.

Annual Average Provincial Throughputs (Millions of Litres) – 2019 BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL YT NT CAN 3.82 4.53 2.86 2.90 5.56 3.04 2.75 3.42 2.78 1.60 1.44 0.92 3.93




Ontario gas stations continued to have the highest average site throughput of any province or territory with averages around 5.6 million litres of petroleum annually.

Ancillary operations The presence of non-traditional fuel marketers, such as big-box retailers, convenience store chains and grocers, has increased their share of the fuel pie over the past 15 years. The Kent Group has established that there are 2,874 gasoline sites in Canada that are affiliated with businesses where their main product is not fuel. Market penetration by non-traditional retailers has grown 9% between 2004 and 2019 to 24% of all retail fuel sites. Big Box operators such as Costco have doubled their market reach since 2004. Today, this group represents 6% of the market. Big box retailers also tend to be high volume retailers (HVR). The higher throughputs create greater efficiency in cost structures that permit these operators to pass along substantial savings to their customers. Big box stores also have the power to cross-merchandize with non-petroleum offerings. This often means that markets with a high concentration of HVR's are characterized by lower average pump prices. Of note here is the fact that the western region has a greater share of big-box retail (7%) in the overall retail market pie as compared with the rest of the country (5.3%). CCentral.ca

Car Wash Representation


FROM 3% IN 2004*

15.4% 17.2% 16.8%

16.7% 18.3% 20.6% 19.6% 20.0% 21.0%

2004 2006








*contains some estimates.

The Kent Group found 2,144 car washes associated with the 10,213 stations reporting ancillary offerings. This is a representation rate of 21%; up 1% from 2018. The collective representation rate of the car wash network of the three major brands (Petro-Canada, Esso, and Shell) rose from 2018 to 13.9%, up from 13.2%.

Service bays located at gas stations are becoming a thing of the past. In 2019, only 7.3% of gas stations had service bays, down from 15% of sites in 2004. According to Kent, service bays typically don’t fit within the model of the modern gas station as a “quick stop”.





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Forecourt Performance Report 2020

Region breakdown The Atlantic region contains roughly 6.5% of Canada’s population and is home to 1,314 (11.0%) of Canada’s gas stations. The average site throughput in this region is 2.62 million litres per year, which is below the Canadian average of 3.93 million litres per year. The three largest fuel marketers in the area are Wilson Fuel Company, Couche-Tard, and Sobeys, accounting for 42% of the area’s stations. The three most common brands in the area are Irving, Esso and Ultramar, appearing at 46% of the area’s gas stations. Generally, the area has a far greater percentage of sites whose pump price is set by individual dealers (58%), which is above the Canadian average of 46%. The percentage of non-traditional fuel marketers is slightly above the Canadian average (27% vs 24%). Ontario and Quebec contain 61.3% of Canada’s population and are home to 6,318 (53%) of Canada’s gas stations. The average site throughput in this region is 4.34 million litres per year, above the Canadian average of 3.93 million litres per year. The three largest fuel marketers in the area are Parkland Fuel Corporation, Couche-Tard and Suncor Energy Products, accounting for 42% of the area’s stations. The three most common brands in the area are Esso, Petro-Canada and Shell, appearing at 45% of the area’s gas stations. The area has fewer sites whose pump price is set by individual dealers at just 38%, below the Canadian average of 46%. The percentage of non-traditional fuel marketers (22%) is slightly below the Canadian average.




The Western Interior region contains approximately 18.5% of Canada’s population and is home to 2,878 (24.1%) of Canada’s gas stations. The average site throughput in this region is 3.73 million litres per year, which is below the Canadian average of 3.93 million litres per year. The three largest fuel marketers in the area are Federated Co-operatives Limited, Parkland Fuel Corporation and Shell Canada Limited, accounting for 43% of the area’s stations. The three most common brands in the area are Esso, Co-op and Petro-Canada, appearing at 42% of the area’s gas stations. This area has a greater percentage of sites whose pump price is set by individual dealers (56% vs 46%). The regional representation of non-traditional fuel marketers (31%) is well above the Canadian average of 24%. The West Coast region contains approximately 13.6% of Canada’s population and is home to 1,427 (12.0%) of Canada’s gas stations. The average site throughput in this region is 3.73 million litres per year, below the Canadian average of 3.93 million litres per year. The three largest petroleum fuel marketers in the area are Parkland Fuel Corporation, Suncor Energy Products and Shell Canada Limited, accounting for 42% of the area’s stations. Here, the three leading brands are Petro-Canada, Esso and Chevron, appearing at 44% of the area’s gas stations. This area also has a greater percentage of sites whose pump price is set by individual dealers at 48%, above the Canadian average of 46%. The regional representation of non-traditional fuel marketers (17%) is below the Canada average of 24%. OCTANE

COVID hits fuel retail hard COVID-19 challenges hit Canada’s fueling sector hard. For example, Canadian Tire reports revenue at its gas bars declined 5.1% in the first quarter of 2020. Overall, gas stations told Statistics Canada that they were seeing declines on the order of 19% as they moved into April. Some researchers have found that revenue growth for the fuelling/convenience sectors in Canada has been adjusted from a 0.3% decline to an 8.9% decline in 2020 due to the profound impact of COVID-19.


Suppliers, what’s new in your product line? Contact Elijah Hoffman at 647.558.0103 or ehoffman@ensembleiq.com


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MCCOWAN DESIGN & MANUFACTURING INTRODUCES ITS NEW TIERED SKID DISPLAY McCowan is introducing its new Tiered Skid Display for your forecourt! Manufactured with a stainless steel base and zinc coated steel shelves, this product is rust resistant and will keep your forecourt looking new for years to come. McCowan’s skid display has a capacity of 54 washer fluid jugs. Shelves are removable to accommodate firewood or salt. The skid display includes a pricing sign and is available in black or grey; additional colours are available with minimum orders. Please contact us at sales@mccowan.ca or 416.291.7111 | www.mccowan.ca



Extrutech’s new 8”inches Stay-in-Place Concrete FORM System provides a hard, durable surface that protects your walls and are easy to clean inside and out. The bright white panels are water and corrosionproof and will not rust, rot or flake. They are now ICC ESR-4250 Listed and available in 6” and 8” thick, and two feet wide. These panels are provided as custom-cut kits and in lengths up to 20 feet long. Call 1.888.818.0118 or visit our web site at www.epiplastics.com for details.


Exacta has the in-bay contactless payment solutions ready for your business. Start accepting Interac Debit, Google Pay, and Apple Pay transactions at your carwash. Exacta can help create the right payment solution for your business. Contact our sales team to see how we can help your business. Exacta – Exact One Ltd. 1.800.492.4226 | Sales@exacta.com


| 21





Mitchell Easton – Sameer Haidari – circle






Jason Kaye –


Terry McGowan – Jamie Shaw –



Karen Smith –


Tim Walker – Rudy van Woerkom –



NATIONAL OFFICE Director of Operations Nicole Cork Accountant Ricky Nason Event Coordinator Martha Feenstra Canadian Carwash Association Please note our new address: 411 Richmond Street East, Suite 200 Toronto, Ontario M5A3S5


RESOURCES Members have access to a http://canadiancarwash.ca/search library of resources through the CCA and CFIB partnership. Visit https://www.canadiancarwash. ca/COVID-19-and-the-Industry for more information.

JULY 2020


IMPROVE YOUR BUSINESS SKILLS THROUGH FREE ONLINE COURSES As carwash operators and owners, you wear many hats including customer service specialist, sales rep, chief financial officer, maintenance specialist and many more. Prioritizing your tasks every day can be a challenge. Your CCA/CFIB membership now includes access to $2,000 worth of free online courses in health and safety, compliance, people management, customer relations, among others. Offered by Vubiz these courses help you understand your requirements to be compliant with both provincial and federal regulations as well as keep your employees safe. Check out the extensive library of more than 40 online courses at cfib-fcei.ca/en/ member-savings-benefits/vubiz. CCA members can find out more about accessing their benefits by contacting CFIB@CFIB.ca or calling 1-888-234-2232.


Q1 WASH VOLUME REPORTS SHOW SLIGHT DECREASE The 2020 first quarter results of the Wash Volume Report (WVR) released by the Canadian Carwash Association (CCA) show that the Canadian average revenue per site was $80,118 which is down 4.6% compared to the first quarter of last year. Average cycles per site came in at 9,282 which reflects a 5% decrease compared to the 2019 first quarter results. The revenue per cycle was $8.63 which is a slight increase from last year’s Q1 results. Undertaken for the CCA by Kent Group Ltd., a research firm specializing in the gas station and carwash industry, the WVR is a national survey of carwash sites. Members of the CCA may participate in the WVR program and receive results specific to their regional at no extra cost beyond their membership fee. All CCA members can access the full first quarter results on the CCA website. Also available online is information on how you can add your carwash location to the WVR.

STAY UP TO DATE – JOIN THE CCA FACEBOOK GROUP! It remains CCA’s top priority to keep members and the industry up to date and informed, especially during these uncertain times. It is also important that our members have a way to communicate with each other. While we will continue to update our website frequently as information is received, we have also created a Facebook group online for members to connect with each other. This is a place for employees, owners, investors, and suppliers to the industry to share their knowledge, insights, challenges and much more! We encourage you to join the group by searching “Canadian Carwash Group” on Facebook. CANADIAN CARWASH ASSOCIATION CANADIAN CARWASH ASSOCIATION CANADIAN CARWASH ASSOCIATION CANADIAN CARWASH ASSOCIATION



ST R WOMEN Meet the 2020 winners

Selling special moments New snacking insights Capitalizing on cannabis

JULY/AUGUST 2020 CCentral.ca @CSNC_Octane PM42940023

PLUS 8 best practices for foodservice success


Volume 3 | Number 4







Editor’s Message Congratulations!


The Buzz People, places, news and events


Quick Bites Contagious snacking trends


Top Ops The new pandemic planogram


C-store IQ: National Shopper Study Marketing Report


2020 Star Women in Convenience Meet the winners!


Retailer Spotlight Staying power: Nova Scotia’s Frieze and Roy


Feature Celebrate good times, come on! C-stores have a unique opportunity to help customers mark special moments


Ask the Expert How will c-store foodservice rebound post-pandemic? Jeff Dover of fsStrategy shares 8 best practices


Category Check Pot luck: C-stores can reap profits by selling cannabis accessories


Snapshot Kathy Perrotta, Ipsos Canada: Canadians’ quarantine cuisine unveils new habits and opportunities


Backtalk Supply and demand: A conversation with Dan Elrod of Wallace & Carey




The latest industry news and information, plus resources, foodservice insights, store solutions, tobacco/vaping updates and more. Don’t miss our e-newsletters! Sign up today at www.CCentral.ca






20 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 1800, Toronto, ON M4R 1K8 (416) 256-9908 | (877) 687-7321 | Fax (888) 889-9522 www.CCentral.ca SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CANADA | Donna Kerry EDITORIAL EDITOR, CSNC Michelle Warren | mwarren@ensembleiq.com EDITOR, OCTANE Kelly Gray | kgray@ensembleiq.com TRANSLATION | Danielle Hart ADVERTISING SALES SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Danny Monticelli | dmonticelli@ensembleiq.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Elijah Hoffman | ehoffman@ensembleiq.com VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS Michael Cronin | mcronin@ensembleiq.com SALES & EVENTS COORDINATOR Claudia Castro DESIGN AND PRODUCTION VICE PRESIDENT, PRODUCTION Derek Estey | destey@ensembleiq.com DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION Michael Kimpton | mkimpton@ensembleiq.com ART DIRECTOR | Linda Rapini DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Alexandra Voulu | avoulu@ensembleiq.com SENIOR DIRECTOR AUDIENCE STRATEGY Lina Trunina | ltrunina@ensembleiq.com SENIOR DIRECTOR, DIGITAL CANADA & SPECIAL PROJECTS Valerie White | vwhite@ensembleiq.com CORPORATE OFFICERS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER | Jennifer Litterick CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER | Jane Volland


SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CONTENT | Joe Territo SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES Subscriptions: $65.00 per year, 2 year $120.00, 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 LICENSING AND REPRINTS

Please contact Wright’s Media | ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com 1-877-652-5295 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. ©2020 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.

Congratulations! Introducing the 2020 Star Women in Convenience Wow, it feels great to have something to celebrate! Welcome to our third annual Star Women in Convenience issue recognizing and celebrating exceptional women making a difference in the convenience industry—women demonstrating commitment, innovation and leadership. Let’s face it; during the last five months there’s been a dearth of good news in the wake of a pandemic that’s changed everything. During a time when the entire convenience industry is heralded as going above and beyond, insofar as being deemed an essential service, there’s been little time for revelry. For many, it’s been a gruelling period of hard work, innovation and adaptation. The 2020 Star Women in Convenience represent these qualities and more—they are the leaders shaping and redefining the Canadian convenience industry, from those working the frontlines as owner-operators to visionaries on the corporate retail level, as well as manufacturing, distribution and more. CSNC launched Star Women in Convenience in 2018 and the award continues to gain momentum and prestige. Even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis, people stepped up, wanting to acknowledge their colleagues, clients and industry partners. We received a record-number of nominations from

across the country (thank you to all who submitted nominations) and our panel selected 23 winners, up from 17 in 2019 and 11 in 2018. Due to restrictions still in place during production, we were unable to host an in-person photo shoot for our cover: However, this issue remains dedicated to sharing winners’ stories and shining a spotlight on their accomplishments. To meet this year’s winners, turn to p. 14! In the spirit of celebration, check out “Celebrate good times, come on!” (p. 34), which looks at the unique and evolving role the convenience industry plays in helping Canadians mark special moments, from major holidays to family movie nights. And, because our goal is always about providing the insights and information you want to operate a thriving business, we have the latest in snacking trends (p. 8), merchandising in the era of social distancing (p. 10) and tips from industry expert Jeff Dover on redefining foodservice best practices (p. 36). The celebrations aren’t over yet! We’re inviting you to help honour the 2020 Star Women In Convenience at an industry event November 4th. In the meantime, we hope you find many moments to celebrate this summer. standard

Michelle Warren | Editor

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Convenience Central











The Convenience Industry Council of Canada is planning this year’s National Convenience Week, which is to take place across the country from August 31st to September 4th. The event is two-fold—it celebrates the nation’s convenience industry, while also supporting communities by raising funds for Make-A-Wish Canada (formerly Children’s Wish Canada). In a note to members, CICC said:

“More than ever, now is the time to celebrate the stores that have remained open from the start of the pandemic to supply essentials and basic groceries, and the frontline store staff that showed up to serve their communities.”


Alberta is the only province without vaping legislation, but not for long. The province introduced new legislation that would ban anyone under age 18 from using e-cigarettes. If the bill passes, there would be restrictions— matching those in place for traditional tobacco products—on displaying and promoting vaping products in stores. Specialty vape stores would be exempt, meaning c-stores would bear the brunt. While the province does not intend to ban or restrict flavours for e-cigarettes, the bill proposes cabinet be allowed to add such restrictions once the law is passed and proclaimed. If passed (it hadn’t as of press time), the new rules are expected to take effect sometime this fall.




Ottawa is postponing the enforcement of regulations regarding packaging of vape products in Canada to January 1, 2021 from the original July 1, 2020. Last year, the government outlined requirements that vaping packages feature health warnings and be child-resistant. In response to industry advocacy, Ontario is following suit, moving ahead with implementation, but pausing until December 31, 2020 full enforcement of its new vape-related restrictions limiting sales at the c-store level. This gives stakeholders time to adjust in the wake of pandemicrelated business disruptions.


Fuel prices will be tracked in four additional British Columbia communities—Powell River, Revelstoke, Port Alberni and Squamish—under legislation aimed at providing the public with more information about prices at the pumps. The government passed legislation last November aimed at providing more transparency in the way gas prices are set: The decision to add cities was based on recent public feedback. The province’s independent utilities commission was asked to examine why gasoline costs in Metro Vancouver were consistently the highest in Canada, reaching $1.70 per litre and above; however after a lengthy investigation said it couldn’t explain why B.C. drivers were paying as much as 13 cents more per litre for gas.


The Ontario Convenience Stores Association will mark CStore Day on August 22, 2020. Thousands of independent retailers across the province (as well as special guests, such as MPPs and local celebrities) traditionally take part in the event, which is designed to celebrate the industry and support the needs of the children’s hospitals in Ontario—Sick Kids Foundation, CHEO Foundation, Children’s Health Foundation and McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation.



Some businesses operating with pandemic protocols in place are saying they won’t accept cash for the time being, potentially accelerating what the Bank of Canada describes as a decadelong shift away from the banknote. However, Canada’s central bank also warns that the decision to refuse cash, while legal, could be disastrous for some of society’s most vulnerable, including the homeless and others without bank accounts. With that in mind, it is urging retailers to continue allowing cash transactions. The Retail Council of Canada is recommending retailers “encourage” contactless payment methods rather than mandating them. “We’re still finding that a lot of merchants will accept cash, and that’s everything from large entities that have multiple tellers all the way down to convenience stores,” said Karl Littler, senior vice-president of public affairs for the council. “But obviously, it’s the merchant’s prerogative as to whether to do so.”


Following Foodora’s pull out of Canada May 11, 7-Eleven quickly regrouped, teaming up with Skip the Dishes for third-party delivery in Canada. At a time when demand for at-home delivery is on the rise, the convenience giant’s customers will be able to order a variety of hot foods, from pizza to wedges and wings, as well as its signature Slurpee.


Irving Oil completed its acquisition of North Atlantic Refining Corp. from U.S.-based investment firm Silverpeak. The deal includes a 135,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery located at Come By Chance, N.L., as well as a network of nearly 100 company-owned and dealer retail sites and cardlocks, including the Orangestore chain of 24 convenience stores. North Atlantic Refining Corp has been a well-known major player in the province’s stove oil, gasoline, and propane trade since 1950. With the closing of the deal, Irving now operates the only two refineries in the Atlantic region.

MOVING ON UP We have an announcement of our own! Danny Monticelli joins EnsembleIQ as senior accounts manager for Convenience Store News Canada. In his new role, Monticelli will create customer-focused solutions across the brand’s properties, including the magazine, website and newsletters. He has a wide-range of industry experience, most recently as national sales manager for SRP companies, which serves more than 12,000 convenience and gas customer locations. Prior to that, Monticelli was district sales manager for Powerbev Inc. and spent six years in sales roles with PepsiCo Canada. Ron Soreanu is the new board chair of the Canadian Beverage Association. Soreanu is also vice-president of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola Canada and a member of the company’s leadership team. He brings with him a breadth of board experience, having served as a director on the CBA board, as well as serving on boards of the Canadian Journalism Foundation, the Canadian-American Business Council, Stewardship Ontario and the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Program. Stacey Kravitz has been named president of UNFI Canada. Kravitz currently serves as the company’s senior vice-president of sales and will step into the role Aug. 2, as outgoing president Peter Brennan retires. In her new role, Kravitz will oversee “broadline natural, organic and specialty distribution in Canada, and lead a sales, merchandising and supply chain organization of more than 450 associates,” according to a press release. Kravitz has more than 25 years industry experience, having held senior sales positions at Kraft Foods, Kraft Heinz Canada and UNFI Canada. Andy Hull stepped into the role of vice-president, finance, UNFI Canada on June 29. Hull brings with him more than two decades of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, spanning operations finance, sales finance and category finance. He most recently worked at Nestlé Canada as the senior director finance, and prior to that spent 18 years with Kraft Canada-Kraft Heinz Company in a number of senior roles.


SAVE THE DATE August 22, 2020 CStore Day OntarioCstores.ca August 31September 4, 2020 National Convenience Week ConvenienceIndustry.ca October 11-14, 2020 NACS Show 2020 Nacsshow.com October 27-28, 2020 The Convenience U CARWACS Show – Greater Vancouver ConvenienceU.com November 4, 2020 Star Women in Convenience Awards StarWomenConvenience.ca






Contagious snacking Other than checking my bathroom scale, there are broader metrics to demonstrate that consumers like me increased snacking during the lockdown. In order to quantify these kinds of shifts in consumer spending in the United States as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, market tracking company IRI recently launched its CPG Demand Index to measure weekly changes in consumer purchases, by dollar sales and channel. IRI tracked an increase in total core snacking of +40% year-over-year (YOY) for the week ending March 15, and +34% for the following week. For the week ending April 5, snacking sales modulated, but still grew +7 YOY. Results from a broad survey of consumers in the United Kingdom, conducted by supermarket chain Waitrose, revealed that nearly 40% of consumers reported an increase in snacking during lockdown. In turn, the Frito-Lay Snack Index, released at the end of May, found 85% of respondents said eating their favourite snack makes them feel normal, while 83% said their favourite summer snacks remind them of good times and nearly half (48%) said eating their favourite snack makes them feel happy. Bottom line is that increased home time, family time, leisure screen time, stress and near 24/7 access to our pantries, have all translated into a rise in snacking, as Canadian consumers reach for treats and comfort foods.

Stocking up In the third week of February 2020, the Dow Jones average was nosing 30,000 for the first time: This was the end of the longest bull market in recorded history. However, by the third week of March, the Index had lost more than one-third of its value, essentially




wiping out the cumulative gains of 2017, 2018, 2019, and Q1 2020. As of this writing, markets have recovered somewhat to levels of early January 2018. There have been some exceptions to this general trend. Shopify is a Canadian multinational e-commerce company, offering a proprietary software platform that facilitates retailers selling their products online and in stores. Shopify’s stock value has flourished during COVID-19, as most retailers scrambled to up their online presence. Between January to mid-March 2020, Shopify stock was up about 5%. Between March and May, Shopify’s stock value doubled, surpassing RBC as Canada’s most valued stock. Despite a precipitous drop in foodservice channel sales during the global lockdown, a number of large food companies have seen success. Mondelēz, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s are all examples of bucking the trend and boats rising in a down market. Mondelēz reported organic sales growth of more than +6% for the first quarter of 2020, beating Wall Street estimates. Mondelēz CEO Dirk Van de Put attributed the performance to the rapid growth in snacking due to shelter-at-home behaviours. PepsiCo reported nearly +8% net revenue growth in Q1 2020, as consumers stocked up on beverages, salty snacks and other food items for at-home consumption. Key observations during COVID-19, include: • Shift to at-home consumption—growth in snacking during the day • Increased usage of large-format pack sizes • Shift away from immediate consumption • Increased purchase “basket size”—fewer shopping trips with a higher value • Increased use of e-commerce sourcing

The company is leaning into the changes in consumer behaviour and has developed a game plan, with an emphasis on snacking.

While PepsiCo expects gradual improvement in sales at convenience and gas channels as people return to work, the company is also embracing an e-commerce strategy, launching two U.S.-based direct-to-consumer sites to capitalize on the growing appetite for snacks. Snack.com offers more than 100 Frito-Lay snack products, while PantryShop.com features multi-product bundles of Quaker and other brands to meet specific day-part and lifestyle needs At Kellogg’s, North America financial reporting for the first quarter of 2020 showed organic sales rose 6%, with volumes up 5%. This largest driver for this growth was the company’s snacks segment, according to Amit Banati, senior vice president and chief financial officer. Kellogg’s cracker sales jumped almost 40% versus a year earlier, while salty snacks and wholesome snacks rose nearly 30%. “This consumption growth has been broadbased across our portfolio of brands,” Banati said. “From an occasion standpoint, we have seen less lift for on-the-go items and more growth for pantry packs”.

Opportunity to take share Traditional convenience and gas non-fuel sales have been oriented towards impulse consumption—providing products that are consumed within an hour of purchase. However, legislated changes to consumer behaviour have impacted the convenience channel significantly. The convenience business model is built on and grounded in consumer mobility, social activity and time scarcity. In a pandemic, virtually overnight, this evolved into immobility, isolation, CPG scarcity and boredom. Rather than getting from point A to B as fast as possible, fuelled by an onthe-run meal or snack, consumers’ priorities shifted to limiting retail trips, avoiding crowds, and eschewing public transit. CCentral.ca

SMART INSIGHTS Category trends

· Alcohol and cigarettes continue to outperform average store sales growth · Non-edible groceries, frozen foods and ice cream continue to do well · Candy category is seeing positive week-over-week sales

The great news for the convenience channel is that proximity plus offering consumers a streamlined retail experience have never been more important. As working from home and home schooling/daycare become entrenched as a kind of new normal for consumers, there is an expanded role for the convenience channel to play as a provider of pantry staples, meal kits, fresh produce, non-food cleaning/hygiene products and even office supplies.

Use your smarts Symphony RetailAI, along with partner ROC Associates, use technology to optimize performance for gas/convenience, foodservice and grocery, drawing insights from their pool of retailers: Their findings are representative of thousands of stores and millions of houses. Trusha Pandya, account director at Symphony RetailAI, noted a number of trends emerging across the convenience channel as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded (see Smart insights sidebar). Data showed that, overall, c-store sales tracked improving weekover-week performance. At the outset of the lockdown, Symphony “recommended that convenience store retailers stock up on frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.” As the market gradually transitions into a new phase of the pandemic, Symphony is advising convenience retailers to renew their “focus on better-for-you and fresh options, (which should) also translate to snack categories.”

Be a camel In an article in The Globe and Mail, venture capitalist Alexandre Lazarow called for Silicon Valley to create a new model for a post-pandemic world. He notes that the tech world has spent the past 20 years trying to find the next “unicorn” startup. Unicorns are companies having seemingly unlimited potential, capable of growing from zero to more than $1-billion valuation in short order. Our current harsher, less stable market environment calls for a different approach. Instead of unicorns, the future will be “camel” startups that prioritize sustainability and resiliency. Lazarow writes that the camel, “adapts to multiple climates, survives without food or water for months, and has humps to protect itself from the desert’s deprivations. Unlike unicorns, camels are not imaginary creatures… camels are survivors.” There will be bumps and impediments in the road ahead. As always, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and sustain your business through emerging challenges, will enable you to survive and flourish. Put simply, just like all of us in the face of COVID-19, be prepared to do what you need to do to live to fight another day. ◗ Darren Climans is a foodservice insights professional with close to 20 years’ experience partnering with broadline distributors, CPG suppliers, and foodservice operators. His practice is to understand issue-based decisions by taking a datadriven approach to strategic decision making.


Consumer preferences

✔ Stockpiling subsided after initial spike ✔ Comfort foods taking bigger share of consumer home pantry shelf ✔ Convenience store purchases of sweets, salty snacks and frozen food showed good and sustained growth ✔ Increasing demand for fresh produce towards the end of the lockdown

5 lessons from COVID-19 1

Go beyond a reliance on in-store foot traffic


Tap into emerging technologies in the way grocery stores have done


Focus on the need to capture customer loyalty by using smart technology solutions


Leverage POP data to make better decisions for the future


If you have a gas program, incorporate promotions at the pump to drive traffic into the store

Source: Symphony RetailAI, ROC Associates




of consumers report that they buy snacks from c-stores’ prepared foods sections and that rises to 37% for those ages 18-34

of consumers say they snack at least once per day and that rises to 83% for those ages 18-34


most important attributes in snacks, according to consumers:

1. Flavour or taste 2. Freshness 3. Satisfies hunger 4. Quality 5. Price

BEYOND CLASSIC SALTY SNACKS AND CHOCOLATE, WHAT DO CONSUMERS WANT? • Protein-rich snacks, such as protein balls and protein cookies, promise functionality and quantifiable nutritional content. • Poutine has become an easily adaptable platform for new twists on a classic. Retailers are getting creative with indulgent and better-for-you offerings. • Dessert bites increase purchase averages and grab attention from consumers with a sweet tooth. Consider low-priced, smallportioned dessert snacks like churros and doughnut sticks. • Better-for-you snacks that are plant-based, such as seaweed chips, crispy mushroom chips, kelp jerky and mushroom jerky are on the horizon. Health-conscious consumers are looking for ways to snack more often without feeling guilty or worrying about calories. • Next-level meat snacks with health-halo and premium claims, such as grass-fed beef, pastured-pork and nitrate-free bacon. Source: Technomic’s 2020 Canadian Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report






Pandemic planogram

From capitalizing on emerging opportunities to accommodating queuing systems and adjusting to category upheaval, making every square foot count is more important than ever To say that this year has been challenging would be an understatement. With everything that we’re now expected to do (and not do), how do we plan for our future business, while keeping customers, staff and ourselves safe? Layouts that feature proper category allocation are even more important, in part because you need to allow more space for safer movement, which ultimately reduces sales space. This means making every square foot even more productive, but not to the point of impeding customer movement or safety. The days of jammed isles with cases of pop, weekenders and promo packs are gone. A crowded and cluttered location does not reflect well on the operator and their dedication to customer safety. Prior to this, it was the bathroom that offered a glimpse into the dealer’s commitment level, or perceived level (it often turned out badly). The key categories have always been dynamic, forcing retailers to pay close attention to them, or at least the good ones, but nowadays you really do need a plan. Some categories have been completely reworked, while others are showing growth that has been unheard of for years. The healthy and beauty aids/over the counter (HBA/ OTC), household and dairy categories are in the forefront. While perhaps unlikely six months ago, now these make sense because customers want to “one-stop-shop” for their milk, Advil and Lysol Wipes, at the same place they buy their gas and cigarettes. We continue to have tobacco, lottery and some very low gas prices bringing customers in store, and with a few product and layout changes, we can have them leaving with a little more. These days, people want to be efficient shoppers so if you didn’t offer tap and pay, a website or provide online or pre-order-




ing before the pandemic, you should now. There have been some serious product surges in recent months, including toilet paper, disinfectant sprays and cleaning supplies, which caused supply rushes. This prompted customers to look at sources and suppliers that they normally wouldn’t, for products they normally wouldn’t. As the Shoppers Drug Marts get more into groceries, maybe convenience operators should consider more HBA/ OTC business? Everyone seems eager to pick up those little hand sanitizers at check out. Specialty category products have become even more important to help give your customers greater choices when they shop with you. A trend can develop as simply as an everyday item that has found a secondary purpose. Customer and staff safety are the top priorities. Retailers are taking a second look at how they allocate space for customer movement and flow. Plexiglass barriers for the operators are now common, while the use of queuing systems at the cash gives customers and staff a sense of distance and order. Consider fixtures that create a “queuing structure” (Winners and HomeSense do this) to stream, direct and space out customers, while waiting to pay, as well as floor clings (footprints) to help determine distance and

There were some serious product surges, including toilet paper, disinfectant sprays and cleaning supplies, which prompted customers to look at sources and suppliers that they normally wouldn’t, for products they normally wouldn’t.

direction. These fixtures also offer a last point-of-purchase opportunity to display products as the customer waits to pay. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a PLAN. The fixtures, service counters and checkout area need to be designed for maximum product sales, and the product featured needs to be current and in demand. There needs to be room to move and shop, while distancing from others. We call this “social distancing” now, but some have referred to it as “frictionless” in the past. The key to the safety of your staff, customers and you is a PLAN. ◗

Floor markings help determine distance and direction.

Canadian Convenience Guru Russell Large is a retail merchandise expert (and occasional columnist) with more than 30 years industry experience. He is senior business development manager, Ontario, for Continental Store Fixture Group. CCentral.ca

Distributed in Canada exclusively by : Confiseries

Confections Inc. Laval, Qc, Canada H7L 5A3


Marketing Report

Sign of the times On-site communications speak volumes when it comes to enticing customers in store BY MICHELLE WARREN

As Canadian consumers become more selective about where and when they shop, it pays to know which marketing strategies resonate with shoppers at the gas and c-store level. Technology and on-site promotional efforts play a key role in driving consumers in store and boosting pumpto-store conversion rates, according to proprietary data from Convenience Store News Canada’s C-store IQ: A National Shopper Study. C-store IQ is the first convenience and gas specific study that delves into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of Canadian convenience consumers. Research shows that 43% of shoppers visit chain convenience stores and 38% visit independently owned convenience stores at least once a week. More than

half of the convenience store shoppers (54%) visit preferred stores mainly due to proximity, followed by 46% who are motivated by needing to purchase gas. During trips where shoppers purchase gasoline and shop in-store, 3% purchase merchandise and/or foodservice ‘every time’ and 17% purchase ‘almost every time’. According to C-store IQ data, more than one-in-four shoppers who buy both gasoline and in-store items at least once a month are influenced by frequent buyer/ loyalty programs (28%) to shop for that in-store merchandise. About one-in-five (20%) shoppers are influenced by promotional signage, while 10% are influenced by promotions on their mobile app. More than 1,000 Canadians 18+ participated in the C-store IQ study, which revealed notable differences in how demographics responded to marketing tactics.

Frequency of Convenience Store Visits: Gasoline vs. In-Store 46% 44%



Gasoline only Instore only Both









10% 9%

7% 4%



Once/month Once/6 months


1% 1% 1%


3% 2%


Less than once/year



For instance, millennial shoppers demonstrate a higher likelihood of being influenced by digital promotional efforts (mobile app, social media promotions, mobile ordering and email). Overall, younger shoppers are more likely to be influenced by promotional signage or car wash promotions during a shopping trip.

HIGHLIGHTS: • Millennials (14%) and Gen X (11%) are more likely than boomers (3%) to say they were influenced by video displays on pump. • Millennials (18%) and Gen X (13%) are more likely than boomers (3%) to say they were influenced by gasoline nozzle display ads. • Males (15%) are more likely than females (9%) to say they were influenced by gasoline nozzle display ads. • Millennials (17%) and Gen X (21%) are more likely than boomers (10%) to say they were influenced by car wash promotions. • Millennials (17%) and Gen X (20%) are more likely than boomers (10%) to say banners/window signs influenced them. • Millennials (23%) and Gen X (25%) are more likely than boomers (13%) to say promotional signage influenced them. • Millennials (14%), and Gen X (12%) are more likely than boomers (4%) to say mobile app promotions and deals influenced them. CCentral.ca

% Influenced by to shop in-store during recent trip Frequent buyer/loyalty programs 28%

For convenience and gas sites, the holy grail is driving fuel-only customers in store to increase overall revenue. However, 74% of shoppers say they don’t enter the store because they don’t need anything, according to From Pump to Purchase: Converting the Gas Shopper, a report from The CocaCola Company. Data shows time spent at the pump is a valuable opportunity to change consumers’ minds, with 31% of shoppers deciding whether to enter a store when standing at the pump. Here are five ways to make the most of the moment.

Promotional signage 20% Car was promotions 16% Banners/Window signs 15% Pump toppers (print ads on pump) 14% Gasoline nozzle display ads


Mobile app promotions/deals 10% Video displays on pump




Coupons dispensed from pump


Audio music feed with messages


The data shows that hunger is often what drives consumers in-store and messaging is key, especially when it comes to reaching those looking for a healthy snack. • Self-defined healthconscious shoppers (12%) are more likely than nonhealth-conscious shoppers (10%) to say they were influenced by gasoline nozzle display ads. • Health-conscious shoppers (16%) are more likely than non-healthconscious shoppers (14%) to say banners/window signs influenced them to go in store. In today’s world, consumers are even more selective about where and when they shop. In turn, c-store operators large and small are working harder than ever to drive shoppers in store, which makes a strong on-site communications strategy that incorporates a variety of marketing tools, from signage to on-site promotions, essential.



1. Media terminals and video displays can inform, entertain and entice customers in store—they can also be easily updated with time-of-day specials.

A WINDOW INTO YOUR STORE If the medium is the message then your store’s window is a valuable marketing tool that speaks volumes about your business. A cluttered window with out-of-date promotions, faded posters and general grit is a definite turn off and sends the wrong message to customers.

2. Use pump toppers to promote special offers on food and drink. 3. Offer discounted fuel with in-store purchases. 4. Highlight ancillary services and products, such as ATMs and gift cards. 5. Invite customers to use your (regularly cleaned and disinfected) restroom.

➔ Keep windows clean. ➔ Remove old posters etc. ➔ Update promotional signage from vendor partners. ➔ Consider an LCD digital window sign that can be updated regularly and is eye-catching after dark. ➔ Reduce window clutter by using sandwich boards to keep messaging fresh and engage consumers.

TIP Studies show a well-lit storefront and parking lot makes customers feel safe and more likely to venture in store at night.



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2020 WINNERS 14




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Jillian Anderson

Grace Caputo

National key account manager

Vice-president and general manager of Now Prepay

PepsiCo Canada



lthough the 23 women being honoured this year as Star Women come from diverse backgrounds and work in different roles and different sectors across the country, they share a singular commitment: to customers, to colleagues and to community. Doing a good job requires looking closely at the bottom line and identifying ways to improve efficiency and profitability. For the 2020 Star Women, doing a good job is simply not good enough. It’s about exellence — and that requires focusing on customer needs, innovating and building winning teams. Indeed, for several of the honorees, their ultimate career achievement is not about themselves at all: It’s about mentoring the next generation of Star Women. Another aspect common to all 2020 honorees is they thrive on helping to address the challenges of a sector that is constantly adapting to change and they step up to make a difference. Quite simply, they love what they do. And it shows.


Jillian Anderson has a reputation for cultivating strong relationships with co-workers, partners, and customers. In her current role, Anderson is a national key account manager at PepsiCo responsible for 7-Eleven cold drink. In this important role, it is critical to understand the customer’s vision and strategy, notes Anderson, who has won two Supplier of the Year awards. “Together we create a synergy to achieve targets and objectives, working to find a win-win partnership that drives sustainable growth for both organizations.” That partnership is significant: With more than 640 stores across Canada, 7-Eleven is a major player in the convenience and gas channel in Canada. “Decisions are made in the boardroom at a high level, but they need to be supported and executed at the store level,” Anderson stresses. Working together and supporting field teams across Canada is key to store execution, and where programs come to life for the consumer.”

Payment Source

As a teenager, Grace Caputo had a part-time job—her first—as a clerk in a convenience store. Since 2003, she has been working with convenience retailers to provide a turn-key prepaid solution to retailers. "Back then, retailers would have to pre-pay for inventory, which was difficult due to the impact on their cash flow,” says Caputo. “By offering them a terminal, they would have access to all products all the time and would pay for products after they were sold.” It is a concept that has appealed to c-stores. Since Caputo started with the company, Now Prepay has grown its retail network from 30 points of distribution to more than 15,000 retailers nationwide. “Being involved from the beginning and leading this growth has been very rewarding,” says Caputo. Inherent to that sense of satisfaction is Caputo’s philosophy. “[This] has always been more than just ‘selling’ a product,” she says. “We manage the category overall, making sure that retailers have the right mix of products to increase sales and remain relevant to their customers.”



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Hélène Drolet

Jessica Friesen

Leslie Gordon

Vice-president, operations, Western Canada Division


Category portfolio manager convenience retail

Gales Gas Bars Ltd.

Suncor Energy/ Petro-Canada

Circle K

Hélène Drolet’s sense of teamwork and gift for developing and managing people helped her sprint up the corporate ladder. As Circle K’s vice-president, she’s in charge of all operational aspects for the Western Canada dealers’ network. Prior to joining the convenience industry, Drolet worked in various sectors, including cosmetics, fashion and fuel. “My biggest accomplishments centre around building and rallying my teams,” says Drolet. “I’ve achieved incredible results because I lead by example. I make sure they’re engaged and motivated, and that they understand our objectives. The pride that comes from working together and being successful is very important to our people, and this is reflected at every level. Even our clients benefit from this in the quality of our customer service." Working in a dynamic and supportive environment inspires her to reach higher. “I love that the challenges are never the same, and we always have incredible opportunities to improve our client offerings, boost our revenues and become a regular part of our client’s daily routine.”


For Jessica Friesen, working in the convenience sector is also about working in the family business. She is a third-generation owner of Gales Gas Bars, a petroleum company based in the Niagara region that has 14 service stations and four convenience stores, as well as wholesale and home heating fuel delivery. “We are one of the last truly independent brands of petroleum in Canada,” says Friesen. “We are wholly family owned. We fly our own flag.” Friesen joined the company 11 years ago after working as a registered nurse. “I like a challenge,” she says. “I really enjoy being in the family business. It’s succeed or fail, and you do both from time to time.” One pillar on which Gales is founded and continues to operate is community support. “We take pride in giving back,” says Friesen. “That resonates with customers. They appreciate that we are invested.”

Leslie Gordon loves that the convenience industry is constantly innovating to meet consumer needs. “We’re changing as the consumer changes,” says Gordon, who manages 17 categories and is directly responsible for half of Petro-Canada’s $1.4 billion in convenience store revenue. In her nine years with the company, Gordon has steered long term strategic development and annual category marketing plans for the c-store business at Petro-Canada’s 1,500 locations. She leads three category teams and mentors interns and new hires. As marketing lead for food safety, Gordon was instrumental in developing the company’s food recall response—the process was adapted for an equipment recall and her team won the Suncor President's Operational Excellence Award. “One thing I’m most proud of is my work as communications director with the Fort York Food Bank,” says Gordon, who joined the board of directors last year. “It’s been such a great experience, and I’m so happy to give back, especially during COVID-19. The need for food banks has increased; we’ve seen new clients and families with children who had never come before, and the community has really stepped up.”



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CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! Each one of our winners brings passion, creativity, and talent to Alimentation Couche-Tard, Circle K. We are proud that they have been recognized among the Star Women in Convenience 2020. To them, and all the amazing winners, congratulations!

Vice President Western Canada


Head of Marketing & Merchandising, Canada


If you’re looking to grow within a global company, get to know us at carrieres.couche-tard.com or workwithus.circlek.com

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Kim Green

Lesley Harany

Mary Kelly

Owner and CEO

Industry volunteer

President and CEO

Kay’s Wholesale Ltd.

Late bloomer. That’s how Kim Green describes herself and her entry into the convenience sector 10 years ago. For most of her career, Green was CEO of Tourism Charlottetown. However, when the offer to jumpstart a wholesale business that had closed came her way, she saw opportunity knocking and said “yes.” Since then Kay’s Wholesale, based in Charlottetown, has expanded five times, does $12 million in business, and employs 36 people. “It’s been quite a ride,” says Green. “I can’t believe I had the guts to do it. I can’t believe how far we’ve come.” One key to success is her dedication to customer service. “I’m here for my clients all the time,” says Green. “I’m in here every weekend meeting with a client who’s run out of something.” Green also believes in offering customers more than the usual merchandise. Kay’s, for example, partners with Prince Edward Island companies to provide local products—everything from potato chips to cough drops to chutneys. “That gives us an edge.”


Gateway Newstands

Retired JTI-Macdonald Corp.

Lesley Harany remembers her first day on the job with JTI-Macdonald. She was a receptionist in an age where there were no cell phones or iPads. That was the first of many jobs with the international tobacco product manufacturer. Her numerous roles included managing duty-free and trade relations. “I developed long-standing relationships with many customers,” Harany says. She also managed and hosted the Montreal Grand Prix for JTI for more than 20 years. “My biggest passion is connecting with people,” says Harany. She continues to do that today in a myriad of ways. The 2016 Large Supplier of the Year award winner volunteers and supports her community. She also continues to be an advocate for the work done by c-stores through her involvement with the Convenience Industry Council of Canada. “These are vital businesses. A lot of retailers have upped their offerings to meet the needs of customers.” Meeting customers’ needs is also second nature to Harany.

As president and CEO of Gateway Newstands, Mary Kelly oversees the operation of more than 275 stores throughout Canada and the United States. Before taking on this demanding role two years ago, she spent more than 30 years in retail, including running Target’s pharmacy and HBA business south of the border, then moving to Canada to lead the merchandising teams for Shoppers Drug Mart and later joining Rexall to oversee the chain’s front store and pharmacies. “I feel like I’ve been in the convenience business my whole life” says Kelly. She notes that every Gateway store is a franchise, and she is enjoying the relationships with Gateway franchisees. “Our stores are small, tightly merchandised, high-traffic. The owners are entrepreneurs.” While the sector has seen tremendous change over the last three decades, including the evolution from in-store to digital—the industry, and Gateway, have adapted, Kelly says. “We’ve been able to be profitable. We’ve learned to work smarter.”



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Congratulations Robin Poulain 2020 Star Women Award Winner KIND is more than just a brand made from ingredients you can see and pronounce®—it is also a movement and way of being. At KIND, we all aim to make the world a bit kinder. We are so proud and privileged to have Robin as a part of our team. She makes us better and is a big part of what makes us KIND. Congratulations Robin – you are truly a star!

Congratulations to laurie smith, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, on being recognized as a 2020 Star Women in Convenience award winner.

From team Canada, a hearty thank you for your leadership, innovation and exceptional performance. You’re a great role model for 7-eleven Canada and the convenience channel!

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Fiona Kreschuk

Mélissa Lessard

Elizabeth Loschiavo


Head of marketing and merchandising, Canada

Corporate account manager


Fiona Kreschuk started her career in the convenience sector more than 20 years ago in British Columbia. When she and her husband uprooted to Calgary, Kreschuk continued along this career path, working as a guest service attendant for Petro-Canada. In 2003, she became an associate. “I haven’t looked back since,” says Kreschuk. “I now run two stores, a very busy highway truck stop and an A&W car wash site.” During her 17 years with the company, Kreschuk has been nominated for and won numerous awards, but she says her greatest achievement is her team. “Over the years I have been lucky enough to train, develop, and watch them grow.” For the Alberta site operator, success comes from understanding customers’ needs as well as supporting her team. “We can create a positive experience for everyone,” says Kreschuk. “I believe in leading by example and learning all of the jobs throughout the business, the good, the bad, and the ugly.”


Core-Mark International

Alimentation Couche-Tard

Mélissa Lessard has mastered many functions within Alimentation Couche-Tard since joining in 2011, including operations, marketing, merchandising and supply chain. While aligning marketing strategy for four Canadian business units to support the company’s traffic and sales growth strategy, Lessard and her team have transformed and delivered new projects in all those roles. She hits all her KPIs while maintaining a great engagement level among her team and fostering strong relationships with her colleagues and vendors. In 2019, Lessard launched gamification in Canada with ‘Rock, paper, prizes’, an online game played more than six million times in two months, and an advent calendar game in partnership with the NHL that increased brand love and traffic. She recently built ‘Circle K’s Little Thank Yous’ platform for Canada and Europe, which allowed customers to thank people helping them through the COVID-19 crisis by awarding them a free CK product. “I take great pride in building strong teams that work with purpose, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing my team reach their goals,” says Lessard. “Customer behaviour is changing rapidly, which keeps us on our toes to make the best business decisions. This leaves room for creativity, leadership, teamwork and entrepreneurship.”

Working in the convenience sector gave Elizabeth Loschiavo something few other jobs could: flexibility. She began her career in the industry 22 years ago as a part-time employee at Karrys Bros. on the order desk. “Initially part-time employment was a personal choice as it allowed me to focus on raising my two sons, which is my greatest joy and most fulfilling achievement,” says Loschiavo. As her children moved on to post-secondary education and then careers of their own, Loschiavo moved into full-time employment and up the corporate ladder, starting as key account coordinator and into her current role with Core-Mark, where she is responsible for liaising with large chains accounts to ensure that the business runs efficiently for the customer and for the company. “My success is a direct tribute to the tremendous support I received over the years both at Karrys and Core-Mark,” she says. The emphasis on family has applied to Loschiavo's career as well as her personal life. “I’ve spent my career building collaborative partnerships with our clients as we work towards achieving mutually beneficial goals.”



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Congratulations to Hayley-Ann Swartz and all the recipients of the 2020 Star Women in Convenience Award! Thank you Hayley-Ann, for your leadership and contributions to the success of Husky’s convenience store business.


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Jasmine MacDonnell

Melani Melnyk

Donna Montminy

Manager, government & corporate affairs

Shopper marketing manager

Director member relations, administration & events

National Smokeless Tobacco Company

Jasmine MacDonnell flawlessly juggles many tasks. She manages NSTC’s legislative engagement strategy, including issues management and key messages, and oversees its corporate communications and contraband tracking programs. Previously, MacDonnell worked in both municipal and federal politics, and she’s widely recognized for strong relationships with government officials and decision makers, which benefits not only the company but also the industry as a whole. For example, one core objective for MacDonnell’s government affairs team is advocating for more certainty and precision in how tobacco taxes are administered. “In 2017, Saskatchewan amended its Tobacco Tax Act in line with our legislative proposals, which was a significant accomplishment,” she recalls. “And when Alberta last strengthened its underage access prevention legislation, it was largely based on measures recommended through our advocacy efforts.” MacDonnell co-leads NSTC’s corporate training and corporate responsibility programs, and leads NSTC’s employee development programming. She has organized industry events and volunteer days in support of Equal Voice, United Way and Habitat for Humanity. She especially enjoys riding alongside her sales reps and visiting retail customers. “Meeting the people who get to interact with our consumers regularly re-energizes me, and I always learn something from them.” CCentral.ca

Mondelēz Canada

Convenience stores have been part of Melani Melnyk’s life since she was a young girl. Her grandfather owned an independent grocery store in a small town in Cape Breton and two uncles also owned a convenience store. “Every summer my sister and I made it our business to visit our favourite convenience store on a daily basis,” says Melnyk. “It was a treat and something we always looked forward to.” Now as shopper marketing manager for Mondelēz Canada, Melnyk gets to help develop those special somethings for a whole new cadre of customers. Recently, for example, she helped create customized programs for clients that offer up unique beverage flavours that leverage the Sour Patch Kids brand. “I love working with the customers in the convenience and gas channel,” says Melnyk. “I really enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit, the flexibility to test and learn new concepts and technologies, and the willingness to partner to develop programs that are win/win.”

Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)

Donna Montminy has been described as “the backbone of the entire OCSA organization,” thanks to her smooth leadership over the past 10 years. Montminy, who previously worked in the software industry, coordinates all facets of membership, event management, communications and charitable components. “Working alongside the OCSA Board, I’m proud of the work we do to have the voices of independent retailers heard and the challenges that they face on a daily basis,” says Montminy. “We have an amazing diversity of retailers and suppliers from various backgrounds that are a great pleasure to work with.” Montminy also organizes CStore Day, where MPPs visit thousands of locations, which raises funds for all four children’s foundation hospitals in Ontario. “I enjoy engaging with so many people through our industry programs and events,” says Montminy. “A big part of my job is to create connections for both the retailers and suppliers to help them move their businesses forward. Bringing the industry together at OCSA events and Convenience U allows all of us to enjoy this wonderful industry.”



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Congratulations to

LesLey Harany for her unwavering passion, compassion & dedication to our industry & our communities.

Our cOngratulatiOns tO all Of the

2020 Star Women in ConvenienCe!

JTI takes pride in being a Top Employer, aspiring to be a leading inclusive company, providing equal opportunities for all.

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Robbie Mulder

Olga Pigeon

Robin Poulain

District manager

Director of marketing and strategy

Director of sales – impulse and alternative channels

Little Short Stop Stores

Robbie Mulder remembers clearly her first day on the job as a part-time clerk in a local c-store. “I was terrified,” says Mulder. Today, as district manager for Little Short Stop Stores, a family-owned business with an office in Cambridge, Ont. and 30 stores in the areas of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Ayr and New Hamburg, Mulder helps the company put in place strategies for growth and increased customer satisfaction. “We build trust with customers,” says Mulder, noting that part of that trust is founded on the company’s commitment to keeping prices low. “We won’t bring a product in if we can’t keep the product affordable.” Like most companies in the convenience sector, flexibility has been a cornerstone of success. Major shifts are commonplace for stores—everything from Sunday shopping to grocery retailers opting out of lottery sales. “We’ve had to adapt quickly and execute changes equally quickly,” says Mulder. But then, it’s all in a day’s work for Little Short Stop’s district manager.


BG Fuels

In the middle of completing her MBA, Olga Pigeon was hired by Imperial Oil to work in the company’s c-store group. “It was all new to me. I learned how to implement plans and to meet customers’ needs,” she says. What stood out most during that summer job: the people. “They were committed to finding a win-win-win.” Not surprisingly, when Pigeon was offered a full-time job with Imperial after completing her MBA, she jumped at the opportunity. “I’ve spent my entire career in the c-store sector without ever intending to.” Her current role with BG Fuels, a national network of 235 locations across Canada, offered new and satisfying challenges. Pigeon developed and launched an original backcourt brand called Waypoint. “It’s about finding a niche in the market,” she notes. Working with colleagues and suppliers to meet customer needs is a necessary attribute, Pigeon believes. “That has helped me along this journey.” On a personal note, the Schulich School of Business grad is most proud of her work as a mentor: While at Imperial, she co-founded and co-chaired TWIN, the Toronto Women’s Interest Network.

Kind Healthy Snacks

Robin Poulain’s list of responsibilities is long. As Kind Healthy Snacks’ director of sales, Poulain oversees the convenience/gas, foodservice, and natural channel strategy for the company’s complete healthy snacking portfolio. She directly leads trade management, forecasting, and customer negotiations, as well as building customer-specific analysis and selling stories. Bottom line: Poulain helps retailers across the country understand how Kind can help them meet their goals and expand their sales and profit. Her co-workers applaud her ongoing efforts to champion the team’s interests, including training and development, ways of working improvements, and company events. “She finds joy in the journey, asks the tough questions, and grows the team and the business,” says Todd Kelly, Kind's general manager for Canada. Indeed, in her first year with the food company, Poulain took it upon herself to meet with category managers and directors to build relationships, ensure clear understanding of channel needs, and the company’s strategic fit within it. Kind sees itself as small and mighty. Poulain’s colleagues and co-workers see her the same way. JULY/AUGUST 2020


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20 20

Paula Schaeffer

Marie-Hélène Senécal

Laurie Smith

Retail sales manager

Director, Eastern Canada, retail

Marketing and communications lead, Canada

Pratts Wholesale

Leadership comes easily to Paula Schaeffer, who oversees the sales, buying and advertising teams for Winnipeg-based Pratts Wholesale’s retail division. “I’m most proud when I’m mentoring a staff member and the light comes on, showing they truly understand what you’re telling them,” says Schaeffer. She is involved in everything from purchasing to inventory turns, profit margins, sales and overall company profits. After starting off in the advertising department, Schaeffer is now known for her 24/7 customer service: She has taken orders at 7 a.m. on a Saturday and fulfilled them within four hours. Her tireless efforts helped the sales team win ITWAL’s retail sales rep of the year award three years in a row. Schaeffer has not only built strong relationships with customers and vendors during 12 years with the company, but she also manages to remember birthdays, anniversaries and children’s milestones. “No matter how different our business is, we all have the same challenges—staff and stock levels—and true lifelong friendships have been made over the years with vendors, manufacturers and fellow sales people,” Schaeffer explains. “Our motto has always been ‘Work hard, play hard’.”





Marie-Hélène Senécal is a trailblazer at the forefront of a sector that didn’t exist 15 years ago and is now a top revenue generator for convenience retailers. She recognized prepaid’s potential early, and helped develop it from paper gift certificates to prepaid card malls in c-stores across Canada and online. A valued leader at InComm, Senécal implements growth and long-term partnership strategy in retail, telecom, prepaid and fintech. She has signed and renewed billion-dollar agreements with national merchants in various channels, growing business tenfold during her tenure. “Prepaid convenience is a business of ascension and constant development,” says Senécal. “I thrive on orchestrating a collaborative approach to launch new programs to market, and to develop personalized initiatives to national retailers that make convenience stores a true prepaid destination." She manages a team of account managers that handle merchant relationships and business development. “You’re only as good as the talent that surrounds you, and I’m proud to have hand-picked the best candidates and leveraged their talents to create a strategic, proactive, productive, client-focused, results-oriented team,” explains Senécal. “Together, we’ve achieved consistent growth with our national retailers, who are now premier Canadian destinations for prepaid product, churning compounded growth and results year over year.”

7-Eleven Canada Inc.

Laurie Smith did not anticipate a career in the convenience sector when she was recruited as a management trainee. “It was not a path I had considered, yet it turned out to be a life-changing opportunity,” she says. “I had not realized the dynamic nature of the industry. Results are seen immediately— close to real time.” During the next three decades, Smith served in numerous roles with 7-Eleven Canada, training as a store leader, area manager, and HR coordinator. She was the company’s first female market district manager at age 30. Today, Smith, who is based in Surrey, B.C., leads the chain’s national communications and marketing. This includes in-store communications, traditional and digital advertising, and digital platforms for the 7Rewards loyalty app and home delivery, as well as proprietary foods and beverages brand management, community relations and internal communications. The fundamentals of the sector have remained constant, Smith notes, but the business is much more complex. “We’re still here to know and serve customers in our neighbourhoods. We’re still here to be a great employer. What has changed is how we deliver that service.”


Leslie Gordon


Congratulations to Leslie Gordon, Tiffany Taylor, and all 2020 Star Women in Convenience Award Winners. Thank you for your leadership, collaboration, and passion for the convenience store industry. We couldn’t be prouder to have you on our team.

Tiffany Taylor

A Suncor business Trademark of Suncor Energy Inc. Used under licence.


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20 20

Hayley-Ann Swartz

Audrey Sylvain

Tiffany Taylor

Manager, non-fuels products and services

National category manager

Category portfolio manager

Straight out of university 11 years ago, Audrey Sylvain was hired as a category assistant at Ultramar. “It was my first real job and I had minimal knowledge about the convenience and gas industry,” recalls Sylvain, who is now responsible for the sweets and snacks portfolio in more than 800 locations across Canada. “I’m proud that I was the first woman hired in this role by my previous manager, who had more than 25 years of experience under his belt. Organizations evolving in the oil and energy industry used to be more male-dominated; this certainly has changed in the past few years, and it’s refreshing to see more women in top management positions, like Donna Sanker, who was appointed president of Parkland Canada in November 2019.” Sylvain appreciates the fast pace of the convenience industry, and finds this an exciting time to be part of her company. “Things are always moving, and you need to be able to turn on a dime,” she explains. “And you definitely cannot be afraid of changes. It’s a challenging job, which certainly keeps the daily work interesting.”

Tiffany Taylor worked in health and beauty before joining Suncor Energy in 2015, and she brought her consumer-centric skills with her to the job. Known as a collaborative, energetic and results-oriented manager, Taylor is responsible and instrumental in leading the category management for the company’s retail store business to strategically deliver objectives and sales results. Her experience in retail pharmacy, marketing, operations and logistics has helped her become an effective problem-solver, strong negotiator and generous mentor. Working collaboratively with key vendors, Taylor is known in the c-store industry for the creativity and energy she brings to the business every day. She focuses on streamlined processes that increase efficiency and minimize downtime. As a category portfolio manager, Taylor has successfully driven the performance of several store categories to new heights. Along the way, she has also built strong relationships with key stakeholders, enabling her to expand her influence on other key areas of Suncor Energy’s retail business.

Husky Energy

Hayley-Ann Swartz has spent most of her 30-year career in the convenience sector. The Winnipeg native began working as a sales representative for Imperial Tobacco after graduating from university and spent a great many days calling directly on all types of convenience stores. “It was at that time that I first gained my appreciation for the channel,” she says. Today, Calgary-based Swartz manages the non-fuels marketing business for Husky Energy. “I have been managing the team that delivers Husky’s retail ancillary sales in convenience, car wash and restaurant for six years.” What stands out most for Swartz over the last three decades is the people who have helped her develop, both professionally and personally. She is paying that forward. “One of my biggest achievements is seeing the growth, development, and success of my team of eight people. It is very satisfying to play a role in helping build their skills and assist in their career development.”




Parkland Corporation

Suncor Energy/ Petro-Canada


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At 181, Nova Scotia’s Frieze and Roy is celebrated as Canada’s oldest general store BY DONALEE MOULTON











Originally opened in the 1830s as a general goods store serving the needs of a bustling shipbuilding town with an international reputation. Everybody in the community of Maitland, N.S., roughly 90 kilometres from Halifax, knows that you can get potato chips, lottery tickets, and even maple syrup at Frieze and Roy. While they enjoy the convenience of shopping, and dining, at their local c-store and adjoining cafe, they also appreciate the store’s biggest selling feature: its commitment to community. Indeed, that is the reason co-owner Troy Robertson purchased the store eight years ago. The decision to buy, he says, was less about business and more about what the store meant to the town of approximately 8,200 people. “It’s the heart of the community. It’s where people drop in. It’s where people leave messages for one another.”


Maitland, N.S.


Frieze and Roy hosts a free turkey or ham Christmas dinner to bring friends and neighbours together in the spirit of the season.



| 31


People in Maitland have been doing all that—and more—at Frieze and Roy for 181 years. For much of the 1800s, it was a focal point for the shipbuilding trade. As that century was coming to a close, the shop became more of a general store, offering customers everything from farm tools to fine china. Today, Frieze and Roy is recognized as Canada’s oldest general store. That rich history contributes to the bottom line today. The store has been featured in articles and on television and continues to draw media attention. “People are interested in stuff that has been around for a long time,” says Robertson. To meet tourists' needs, the store offers a range of souvenirs. In particular, notes Robertson, “they want something with the word ‘Maitland’ or ‘Frieze and Roy, Canada’s oldest general store’

Frieze and Roy’s tips for a successful store ➦ 32


on it. If people are flying, they like a gift that is smaller than 12 inches.” Meeting the very specific needs of customers is central to Robertson’s business philosophy. “I watch what people buy. I ask them what they want. I tailor my inventory to my customers,” he says. That includes offering them the option of purchasing liquor. Frieze and Roy is one of the select convenience stores licensed by the government of Nova Scotia to sell wine, beer and spirits: 9% of sales are alcohol, notes Robertson. “You have to bring something in to draw people in.” In addition to ensuring customers find what they need, and what they want, Robertson has worked to make the store a gathering place. That work started when he purchased the admittedly deteriorating building and essentially gutted the interior, creating a c-store on one side and the Mudslide Cafe

on the other. In the middle (a shared buffer between the two businesses) is a gift shop that supports both operations. “The goal was to create a feeling that people are going to an old place that is comfortable,” says Robertson. “We are not Shoppers Drug Mart. We do not want to look or feel like Shoppers Drug Mart.” Many locals prefer to shop local, he adds. “The lines are smaller. It’s faster. It’s their community. People want to go someplace that doesn’t feel like a mall.” Nothing could feel less cookie-cutter than the town of Maitland itself. Only an hour’s drive from the province’s capital city, the town sits on the edge of the Cobequid Bay, an inlet off the Bay of Fundy, which boasts the world’s highest tides. “There are few places like this left,” says Robertson. The same could be said of the Frieze and Roy general store. ◗

1 | Imprint. Running a 2 | Inhale. Building a 3 | Increase. C-stores can expand c-store is a lifestyle and a lifestyle choice, says Troy Robertson. It’s also hard work, he notes. “You can’t put in your 40 hours and go home.”


business takes time, says Robertson. “You need patience and flexibility to grow the business.”

their reach and improve the bottom line through strategic partnerships with suppliers—and with each other, says Robertson, who would like to see the sector share information and purchase collectively. “There really is power in numbers.”




Accelerate your business


GREATER VANCOUVER October 27-28, 2020 Tradex, Abbotsford


March 2-3, 2021

Toronto Congress Centre ConvenienceU.ca | CARWACS.com

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON! Changing consumer behaviour is affording c-stores a unique opportunity to help customers mark special moments, from family moving nights to Halloween, but it starts with the right product mix BY CHRIS DANIELS

COVID-19 restrictions may have put a kibosh on Easter gatherings this year, but Canadians still sought out chocolate and candy. Fortunately for the sector, more shoppers than usual found their treats at c-stores. Easter confectionery in the convenience and gas channel reached $3.8 million nationally and grew 13% over 2019, according to Nielsen MarketTrack for the season ending April 25th, 2020. It has given c-stores reason to be bullish about their role in helping customers celebrate other calendar milestones amidst a new normal of social distancing and shifting shopping behaviours. The Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Back to School, Thanksgiving and Halloween are all upcoming opportunities for the convenience industry.




Maintaining traditions “Quality time with family is important and Canadians are still looking to maintain their traditions even if they can’t celebrate like they once did,” says Julie Sirois, VP of sales at Mondelēz Canada, adding “these moments during the year are providing a sense of normalcy for our turbulent times.” After 17 years with PepsiCo Foods Canada where she led sales for its Frito-Lay portfolio, Sirois joined Mondelēz in late March—at the peak of the pandemic. She believes it has set up the c-store to become a favoured destination of seasonal and holiday goodies. To help consumers capture the essence of summer, Mondelēz has introduced limited-time varieties of its Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars—Fireworks, S’mores and Rocky Road—as well as summer-themed flavours of its Maynards gummies, called Tropical Swedish Berries, and Sour Patch Kids gummies, Sour Patch Kids Crush.


How long will COVID-19 be a factor in holiday celebrations? Canadians perceive the end date of virus worries to be November, impacting Halloween purchases, according to Mondelēz International’s COVID-19 weekly global consumer behaviour tracker, carried out by BuzzBack.

Size matters It has also partnered with key c-stores on larger take-home sizes of its candy and gum brands. “Historically, single-serve confectionary has been a big part of the convenience business, and it still is. However, we are seeing larger packs growing faster than anything else in this channel,” notes Sirois. At the start of the COVID outbreak, that was attributed to pantry loading. Now she says consumers are wanting “to avoid long grocery store line-ups” and are picking up staples like bread and dairy at their local c-store. While there, they are adding treats to their shopping baskets that can be enjoyed multiple times or shared at home. This includes for special occasions, but also moments with loved ones, such as during a BBQ on the patio or a movie night with the kids. To that end, promotional bundles, like a bag of milk with a pack of Oreo cookies, could work really well, says Sirois, especially given people are watching every dime they spend.


treats, but right now nobody knows what the turnout is going to be for trick-or-treating, except that there will be less kids going out. The question is, how much less?” says Strapagiel. “Parents are going to be concerned about how the candy was stored, cared for and handled, and so households may only need to give out a small amount.” It is easy to imagine a scenario where trick-or-treaters go door-todoor only to the homes of friends and family, for instance, rather than the entire neighbourhood. C-stores might also want to invest in felt masks with Halloween designs, adds Strapagiel.

Halloween highlights

Seasonal displays

Or, once October hits and the weather turns cooler, a hot beverage with a king-sized chocolate bar, since “after trick-or-treating, the next big driver of Halloween treat consumption is to give yourself a treat,” says Sirois. As for trick-or-treating, “we don’t know what it will look like, but people are still going to want to celebrate Halloween with their kids. They will just do it differently,” she says. “We are working with retailers to ensure we bring products that customers desire.” Retail analyst Ed Strapagiel agrees candy packs could do very well for c-stores this October. “The main supermarkets have gone into bulk-sized boxes of Halloween

Russell Large, senior business development manager in Ontario for the Continental Store Fixture Group, advises clients to feature a seasonal wall or display for kids, especially if their store is located on the way to cottage country. In the summer, that might mean displaying quality water toys and colouring books, and during backto-school time lunch snacks and supplies, such as pens, pencils and markers. In the lead-up to Halloween, the assortment could change again, to not just masks but also make-up, pumpkin carving kits, costumes and candies. “Consumers are looking for c-stores to replace their trip to Toys

‘R’ Us Canada and other big stores, but the onus is on convenience owners to carry quality product,” says Large. “People are willing to pay a higher price for quality, especially if they don’t have to drive around and expose themselves.”

The allure of fireworks Another way c-stores can deliver a bang in seasonal/holiday sales? Fireworks! With the cancellation of fairs, festivals and other public gatherings, expect more households to put firework displays on in their own backyards. After Victoria Day and Canada Day, Blast-Off Fireworks, the largest fireworks importer and distributor in Western Canada, cites the Civic long weekend and Labour Day as big purchasing occasions for fireworks. Halloween is also popular, especially in British Columbia, and Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights that starts Nov. 14, is becoming a popular time for fireworks. Blast-Off has focused on new products in two categories—finale cakes, which produce a display with a single ignition, and family packs, which provide high-quality fireworks, ignition tools and firing instructions in one box. “Fireworks can do very well for c-store owners, delivering profit margins of 50% or more,” says Matt Bialek, president of Blast-Off, which works with retailers to navigate city by-laws. In Calgary, for example, consumer fireworks are banned, while most other cities across Canada lift fire bans during key times. “With those margins, in a year like this, it can help c-store owners make up lost dollars from other categories,” adds Bialek. “Remember, people still want to celebrate moments even if they are stuck at home.”



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How will c-store foodservice rebound post-pandemic?

Jeff Dover

As the country gets back to business (and school), Jeff Dover, president of fsStrategy, shares 8 best practices for welcoming back hungry customers Foodservice is an increasingly important segment in convenience stores. The impact of COVID-19 restrictions surrounding foodservice has been devastating for many foodservice operators. As convenience store foodservice is almost exclusively eaten off-site, the impact on stores allowed to remain open has been relatively minimal. However, foodservice at convenience stores must change to ensure continued success.

1. CUSTOMER COMFORT Most consumers are eager to return to their normal lifestyles as lockdown restrictions are eased and eating food away from home is no exception. The key to success will be having sanitation and safety practices for guests and employees visibly in place for those less comfortable with convenience store foodservice. Word of mouth of such practices will result in more people comfortable with using your foodservice offerings. Being known as “doing things right post-COVID-19” will help.

4. NO SELF-SERVICE Ensure that all food is served by an employee. Other than packaged foods, customers should not be self-serving. Unfortunately, this includes self-service of beverages—to the extent coffee, fountain and frozen drinks are served, machines will have to be moved behind the counter, at least initially. Quick service restaurants are also adapting to this change. Despite a pre-COVID-19 move away from single-use cups, refillable beverage programs should also be discontinued. Restrictions on self-service beverages and food will likely be lifted over time.

5. RECONFIGURING THE FOODSERVICE AREA Foodservice spaces need to be reconfigured to ensure proper social distancing is possible. If not already in place, floor markings for those waiting to order and pay for their food, as well as direction of travel floor indicators, are recommended.



Staff preparing and serving food should wear masks. Masks reduce the spread of pathogens from the wearer to others. Instead of plain masks, customize masks that are appropriate for your store (logos, patterns, etc.). Staff could wear a button with a picture of their faces to provide some personalization, as hiding faces behind masks is counter-intuitive to service culture. Masks with smiles also allow this key aspect of service.

Similar to beverage stations, condiment stations will be eliminated, at least in the short term. Cream, sugar, etc. for coffee should be provided and stirred by an employee. Other condiments, such as, ketchup, mustard, relish and hot sauce, should be kept in individual packaged servings and provided by the employee with the food. Employees should wash and sanitize their hands prior to handling the condiments. Condiments are more expensive individually packaged than in bulk. Employees tend to over-provide condiments to customers. I recommend having employees confirm the number of condiments needed with the customer.

3. WASH AND SANITIZE HANDS Prior to serving any food, staff should wash and sanitize their hands (and do so visibly in front of the customer). Even though we are recommending that staff sanitize hands prior to service, food should not be touched. Serving utensils should always be used and sanitized regularly.




7. MENU SELECTION For the most part, food sold at convenience stores should be hand held. Most conve-

nience stores do not have a dining area. Menus should focus on food that can be eaten on the go. The menu should also consider food that holds well. It is important that food is prepared in batches that are likely to be sold before the quality deteriorates. While prepared-to-order food and self-selecting of ingredients is becoming increasingly popular in foodservice operations, it does not work in convenience stores where employees are not dedicated to foodservice and must also focus on cashier and stocking duties. Items should be easy to serve quickly. Speed of service is important.

8. QUALITY CONTROL As mentioned, foodservice at convenience stores should hold well and be easily and quickly served. However, it is important that quality is not compromised. Customers will not return if they are served food that has deteriorated in quality or is not served at the correct temperature. To be successful, food should be prepared in batches based on expected demand. Forecasting demand is key. Over-producing food that has to be discarded (and food should be discarded when quality deteriorates) is costly. Similarly, you don’t want to lose sales if food is not ready when needed. Food safety is also important. Food should not be held in the “danger zone” of between 4.5 degrees and 60 degrees Celsius where bacteria grows at a rapid rate. Temperatures of coolers and food in steam tables, etc. should be checked and logged regularly to ensure safety. ◗

fsStrategy is a consulting firm specializing in strategic advisory services for the hospitality industry, with an emphasis on food and beverage. Jeff Dover is based in Toronto and can be reached at 416-229-2290 ext. 2 or jdover@fsstrategy.com.




Pot luck

C-stores can reap profits by selling cannabis accessories



Adult-Use Cannabis Sales by Month in Canada

$120 $100 $80 $60 $40

meulen. “We train them about the differences between types of rolling papers When we talk to convenience store operators, we’re not only educating them about papers, not just Canadian Lumber, we’re also educating them about the cannabis industry in general.” His hope is that when consumers come into a c-store and ask for papers, the staff ask, “Have you tried Canadian Lumber?” He says that some staff are very knowledgeable about cannabis accessories, while others have no knowledge whatsoever. Rolling paper sales alone are big business: In Ontario, for example, almost 80% of sales happen in c-stores. Ontario’s Big Bark began selling rolling papers just two years ago. Its aim was to produce something unique for the Canadian market. It has rice paper, 100% hemp and unrefined all-nature types, presented in a package with a patent-pending magnetic full closure to keep papers clean and tidy. It just introduced pre-rolled cones that appeal especially to millennials, who may have never mastered the art of rolling their own joints. “Just stuff ’em, pack ’em and smoke ’em,” says Jim Sutton, managing partner, Big Bark. “I think the market is slowly switching over to pre-rolled cones. This will benefit convenience stores since they offer increased profit levels.”

Apr '20

Mar '20

Feb '20

Jan '20

Dec '19

Nov '19

Oct '19

Aug '19

Jul '19

Jun '19

May '19

Apr '19

Mar '19

Feb '19

Jan '19

Dec '18

Nov '18


Sept '19


Source: graph is adapted from STATISTICS CANADA


Oct '18

It’s a natural fit for convenience stores, according to Patrick Vandermeulen, retail advisor, Canadian Lumber, a Nova Scotia-based company selling rolling papers made without allergens, bleach and other chemicals.“This is a great opportunity for c-stores. They’ve got the daily traffic,” he explains. “You’ve got people popping in for gas, chips, pop, munchies… Consumers want to be able to walk to their local corner store and pick up rolling papers on a Saturday night. And they’re looking for a place to buy them other than a government dispensary.” About half of Canadian Lumber’s retail sales come via the convenience store channel. It’s a strong market, but one that comes with challenges. Ottawa’s Cannabis Act treats cannabis accessories similar to tobacco products. In most of Canada (some provinces have differing legislation), in a convenience store environment where minors can enter, the rolling papers, glassware and items needed for smoking the product cannot be displayed or promoted. Trays (for rolling ease), bags (for storage) and branded clothing fall into “a grey area,” says Vandermeulen. In a non-age-gated setting, like a dispensary, those rules do not apply and product can be visible. For new companies selling accessories, regulations can be tricky to navigate and getting on a consumer’s radar requires ingenuity. While Canadian Lumber uses social media and tradeshows to get their name out there, convenience store staff is key to success. “Driving that education is the biggest way we have to drive brand awareness,” says Vander-


Sales (millions CA$)

When the Cannabis Act was passed in 2018, the stigma around pot use started to subside and opened up new doors for convenience stores to stock accessories for their customers and grab a slice of a robust market—once the domain of smoke, aka head, shops.

Legal retail cannabis sales in Canada hit a record high of $181.1 million dollars in March and declined only slightly in April to $180.2 million, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of retail stores, according to Statistics Canada.

Moving forward, expect to see mash-ups in the business space. Convenience stores will take on some qualities of a smoke shop. Smoke shops will, in turn, offer snacks, along with an ever-expanding range of cannabis accessories. More innovation is coming. As the first G7 country to make cannabis legal, Canada has become a leader for innovation in cannabis accessories. The market is already seeing things, like a new one-handed, vibrating rolling device and higher-end artisan-crafted products. C-store operators can promote future sales through a better understanding of cannabis accessories and those who buy them. Failure to do so means seeing potential revenue go up in smoke. ◗ According to the Cannabis Act, which includes strict penalties for selling or providing cannabis and cannabis products to youth under the legal age, cannabis accessories are defined as: (a) rolling papers or wraps, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs and vaporizers, that is represented to be used in the consumption of cannabis; or (b) a thing that is deemed under subsection (3) to be represented to be used in the consumption of cannabis.



| 37



Consumption trends Canadians’ quarantine cuisine unveils new habits and opportunities The COVID-19 health pandemic, and associated lockdown, has had a profound impact on consumer behaviour. Locked away in our homes, unable to visit restaurants to grab a coffee or socialize over dinner, we adopted new habits in response to our new circumstances. Quarantine consumption priorities Key themes driving Canadians’ homebound choices include a return to the kitchen, with consumers eating together more often, while socializing at the table or watching evening Netflix. With many having more time, this has prompted a host of new behaviours, including more home cooking and baking. The requirement for options that meet sharing, nurturing and mood bolstering needs is also on the rise. As consumers continue to balance their needs for emotional well-being with physical and metabolic requirements, they are increasingly prioritizing health and wellness. Calories and fat concerns, which were on the decline in the pre-COVID environment, re-emerge as top priorities, as does sugar. Increasing concerns over intake management re-focus efforts on weight control (perhaps to thwart the much talked about ‘quarantine-15’ weight gain). Finally, uncertain economic headwinds will no doubt continue to factor heavily into future consumption choices. While we may continue to stockpile for a variety of reasons, at-home eating will undoubtedly be the benefactor of a financial downturn, even as dining out returns.

Return to traditional eating regime We skipped fewer meals in April than at any other time during the past five years. This renewed focus on a traditional meal regime that includes three squares a day, plus snacks, has had a beneficial impact for many food and beverage manufacturers.




Breakfast traditions surface Shifting choices at breakfast include rising consumption of toast, cereal and fruit, while orange juice and hot tea are also being consumed more often. Consumers, no longer fraught with daily commutes and the pressures of getting kids off to school, are eating breakfast. However, early morning eating between 7 and 9 a.m. (-5% vs. Feb 2020) has given way to eating later on both weekdays and weekends. Coffee consumption declines when compared to February’s pre-confinement drinking rates (-1.3%). A drop in pod consumption contributes to overall coffee softness, perhaps due to at-home occasions that may be better served by brewing a pot.

Light lunches together Lunch has regained the dubious honour of being the most skipped meal of the day. However, consumers are increasingly eating together and sharing options more often while at home. Choices are more likely to be a light gap fill than a gut fill, led by cheese, fruit, vegetable dishes, fresh cut vegetables and dips. Eat rates of both soup and salad increase when it comes to eating lunch at home.

Rise of dinner on the grill Dinner remains the meal most often consumed with others. However, while we eat together more often, we are increasingly consuming our own options (+4% vs. March 2020), as opposed to sharing. Scratch cooking has increased at dinner when compared to February 2020 habits (+1.7%) and meal kit usage has also increased (+2.7%). While the stovetop remains the top appliance used at dinner, the barbeque is the fastest rising appliance, with an increase of 3.7% vs. April 2019. Given our chilly weather across the country in April, we should expect a monstrous grilling season in 2020 to meet summer flavour, convenience and experience needs.

While the ‘lessetarian’ trend (those committed to eating less meat on a weekly basis), continues at pre-COVID rates, meat choices increased in April, led by rising consumption of chicken, beef and pork.

Canadians pave a pathway to the pantry at snack Overall snacking has increased on a monthly basis, led by strong growth at both afternoon and evening occasions. Food choices at snack are a mix of healthy and indulgent options. Health needs continue to dominate early day preferences, while more indulgent or treat-oriented options drive our evening choices. Afternoon snack, the largest snacking daypart, remains the battleground daypart, where neither health nor indulgence trumps. Fresh fruit, cheese, chocolate, potato chips and cookies top our daily choices. The fastest rising needs driving home snacking choices include options that relieve boredom and stress, while supporting the need to graze and treat oneself. Nostalgia is also a rising driver, which has contributed to the rekindling of relationships with storied brands that provide cheer and happiness. The increased beverage choice at snack more often includes carbonated soft drinks, hot tea, sparkling water and a host of alcoholic beverages, led by beer and wine. As consumers prioritize eating and drinking as rituals that define our homebound routines, needs and habits will likely continue to evolve, particularly as we normalize our behaviours with the recognition that we may be at home for some time to come. With change continuing to abound around us, it will be critical to continue to evaluate consumption habits to determine which shifts will actually stick in our new normal environment. ◗ Kathy Perrotta is a vice-president with Ipsos Market Strategy and Understanding, working with the Food & Beverage Group Syndicated Services. Data sources within this group include, Ipsos FIVE and Foodservice Monitor (FSM).


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Coldstar Solutions Inc. - BC J & F Distributors Ltd. - BC Morton Clarke & Co. Ltd. - BC Pratts - AB/SK/MB Shoppers Wholesale Food Co. - BC Wallace & Carey Inc. - BC/AB/SK/MB

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Beech Brothers Ltd. Campbellford Wholesale Co. Ltd. Courtney’s Distributing Inc. Falls Wholesale Ltd. Farquhar Massey Wholesale Ltd. Fortier Beverages Ltd. Hyde’s Distribution J.N. Webb & Sons Ltd. Loudon Bros. Ltd. Ritchie’s Wholesale Ltd. Wallace & Carey Inc.

Brown Derby Wholesale Ltd. - NL Capital Foodservice Ltd. - NB Carol-Wabush Distributing - NL C.L. Comeau & Cie Ltée. - NB E.L. Bugden Ltd. - NL F.J. Wadden & Sons Ltd. - NL Goulding’s Wholesale Ltd. - NL J.B. Hand & Sons Ltd. - NL Kays Wholesale Inc. - PEI Nor-Lab Ltd. - NL



Supply and demand Dan Elrod is president of Wallace & Carey, a leading logistics and supply chain solution to the convenience industry in Canada.

Dan Elrod

The family-owned business started in Calgary in 1921 with one truck and eight staff—today it has touchpoints coast to coast to coast, stocking more than 12,000 products in 10 modern distribution centres, a fleet of more than 140 trucks and 700 staff. With more than 1,000 deliveries a day, and millions of items each year, the company is an integral part of the supply-chain network for convenience retailers, which represent about 80% of the company’s business. Elrod, who hails from Texas, retired from distribution giant McLane in 2017 and in 2018 moved to Calgary to join Wallace & Carey. Convenience Stores News Canada editor Michelle Warren spoke with Elrod about challenges, changes and fresh opportunities.

What brought you to Canada? DE: One of my key decision points on deciding to join this company was, ‘Do we have competent, skilled professionals in the key areas of the business?’ That’s in purchasing and in operations, that is sales and marketing—the answer was very much so yes, in every area. I thought that I could be of benefit to the business after looking at what their opportunities and needs were, and decided to give it a shot.

What’s the first thing you noticed about the Canadian convenience industry? DE: There has been some consolidation occurring through acquisitions, where some larger groups are bringing on or taking over some smaller regional and local players. I would say the independent convenience store retailer is very much fragmented, including sourcing, which is an inefficient process for those retailers.





How are you addressing this? DE: Wallace & Carey began an initiative last year, to increase our retail store base by a net 300, over a 12-month period, and we achieved that goal. Success with independents is getting their order to them with the products that they need at the right time at a good price. You have to have a sales force that is actually making physical calls into retail, and talking to those customers, and developing the relationship so they trust we know what’s going on, what’s available in the market, what the trends are, the new products—things that a large chain is going to hear immediately from the manufacturer. The independents don’t have that luxury: Bringing those offers, options, deals and promos directly to them on an ongoing basis, is a huge added value proposition.

Tell us about some core initiatives. DE: We’ve taken a number of steps to improve our performance. Wholesale distribution, if you run extremely well, you hope to achieve maybe 5% gross margins and maybe 1% pre-tax operating profit. It’s tight, so what do you do? If you raise your price to your customers, then you’re not competitive. Instead, you become more efficient in what you buy and how you manage it. We have focused on improving our value added services to our suppliers so we have more productive relationships with them. The other side is being a very good service provider. To a convenience store that means you show up on time with the products that they ordered. That’s your service levels, your fill rates. We’ve always been good at that, but it’s cost us money to be good at that because of some inefficiencies.

How did you turn this around? DE: We’ve become more efficient in our inventory management. We’ve also become much more efficient in our operating costs and routing. That’s essentially asking if we are matching labour expense to the volume of work that we’re doing on a minute-by-minute basis: Literally, it is minute by minute. For instance, now we create a CCentral.ca

route that’s got 10 specific stores on it and each one can be delivered to within a twohour ETA. Really, blocking and tackling operational execution, running things efficiently, finding areas of waste or inefficiency, and solving for those, is where a distributor can make a material difference. Everything has to be measured against a standard: Is it contributing positively to the bottom line or is it not? We have focused and grown in areas that were positive and productive to our business.

You’ve added cannabis distribution to the mix: How did that come about? DE: Timing is everything. I joined officially in September of 2018, and cannabis became legal in Canada in October. However, Canada did what countries always do with initiative like this, they forgot about the supply chain. All of the regulations are around what a manufacturer-producer can do, and about what a retailer can do, but what happens in the middle? What we quickly found was that our expertise handling, managing and shipping, high value, highly regulated product was very well developed, because of what we do with cigarettes and tobacco. We developed a very extensive set of best practices and procedures, specific to that product—this is what you need to manage, and secure, and protect, and stay within the laws and guidelines of getting your product from point A to point B.

What is your role now? DE: The key point is we do not buy, own, we don’t even warehouse cannabis. Our involvement is in transporting. We essentially saw a market need, and the solution fit our business model well. We’re venturing into areas and situations where it makes sense, but it’s by no means our core business— that continues to be convenience and that’s where we invest our capital resources, in our infrastructure and systems growth and development of our core business and core competencies. That is convenience store wholesale distribution.

Do you see any links between the future of cannabis and convenience? Might there be opportunities, down the road, to marry these businesses?

DE: What I hear is, ultimately, most in the industry believes that they will be selling cannabis in some form eventually, and that’s from the largest chains to the smallest store. You put your regulations around it, and then you make it available to the public. You don’t tell them where they have to go to buy it.

One more COVID-19-related question: As the economy reopens, what can the industry learn from and build on to succeed in the coming months? DE: As with most Canadian businesses and elsewhere, Wallace & Carey took immediate steps to protect our teammates and customers, through implementation of improved health and safety protocols. Deemed an essential business, we have continued to operate in support of the needs of our customers and all Canadians…. Wallace & Carey, and our industry as a whole, has learned unexpected disruptions require us to be nimble and efficient, in all areas of the business, at all times. New traffic patterns within our customers’ businesses, changing demand from consumers, a workforce with high expectations for improved health and safety measures, and any number of other variables challenge us to be flexible, adaptable, and open to change that is certainly with us and here to stay. ◗ *This interview is edited for clarity and length.



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