Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has announced that it has invested more than half of the initial $100 million (€89.6 million) of its Circle K Venture Fund in startup companies.
The group added that it is focusing on investing in groups that are developing forward-looking solutions in customer experience and improving efficiency.
Circle K Venture Fund Investments
Since the fund's inception in 2020, Couche-Tard has secured equity stakes in several entrepreneurial companies, forming collaborative partnerships and entering into agreements to test and commercialise their innovations.
The fund's most recent investments include two US-based companies, Food Rocket and Farmstead, which offer delivery of grocery, convenience, and pantry items.
Couche-Tard is piloting commercial programmes with these companies and testing and learning the best approaches to compete in the fast-expanding world of delivery and distribution for urban and suburban customers.
Other investments include Pensa Systems, an innovator in the automated use of computer vision and artificial intelligence for retail-in-store data and analytics, and Jackpocket, a licensed-third party app in the US providing an easy and secure way to order official state lottery tickets.
Couche-Tard Supporting Innovation
Claude Tessier, Couche-Tard's chief financial officer, said, "The evolution of our customers' convenience needs has accelerated over the past two years since the start of the pandemic, and these investments and partnerships allow us not only to participate in the growth of these innovative teams, but also to explore ways to add real value for our customers, shareholders, and team members."
"As we move forward on our strategic goals, the fund supports cutting-edge solutions with the potential of improving the customer journey and the experience of our team members in our stores, to create new ways of delivering our products and presenting our offerings, and to change the very nature of convenience," Tessier added.
The fund will continue to invest in strategic partnerships, offering innovative solutions that respond to the evolving consumer needs and help transform the global landscape of convenience and mobility, the company said.