SOUTH AFRICA – Global convenience retail franchise brand Circle K has landed in South Africa through private equity firm Millat Group, with the opening of its first store in Pretoria under its recently forged partnership with global energy business, Puma Energy.

Millat has entered into a Master Licence Agreement with the Canada-based convenience store operator, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, to open and operate its subsidiary throughout the country as the exclusive licensee.

The parties seek to leverage on Puma Energy’s 100-plus site footprint across the country with the aim of improving South Africa’s convenience store landscape.

Janet Sithole, Puma Energy non-fuels retail manager for Africa says, “This is the start of an exciting new chapter in Puma Energy’s story in South Africa. Like Puma Energy, Circle K is known around the world for its commitment to quality and excellent customer service.

“This partnership aligns with our plans to create high-quality fuel and convenience outlets where customers can access all their fuel and daily shopping needs at clean, friendly and convenient retail sites.”

Puma Energy has a network of 112 retail sites across South Africa with a variety of convenience retail offerings, car washes and quick-service food outlets.

Hamza Farooqui, CEO, Millat Group says, “Unlike other forecourt operations, where petrol often takes precedence over stores, we have inverted the model with the intention of our outlets becoming sought-after destinations in themselves.

“Apart from a welcoming ambiance and décor, we will offer a variety of freshly made (on-site), chef-inspired food as well as several new imported candy and confectionary brands.”

Local Circle K stores will also employ in-house baristas to offer a superior coffee programme.

Farooqui says filling station forecourts have become a major new driver of retail commerce and discerning consumers are not only looking for variety and quality, but also a better shopping experience in as short a time as possible.

To that end stores will provide comfortable clean seating areas as well as tastefully decorated, well-lit, clean washrooms.

As part of the Millat Group’s stated intention of being a jobs enabler in South Africa, the Circle K operation will provide employment and training as well as being a boost to the retail industry supply chain.

Notes Farooqui, “Bringing Circle K to South Africa aligns with our concept of introducing customer-centric brands, experiences, and compelling food service offerings. This further speaks to our strategy to play within the leisure, hospitality, food service and convenience segments.

“As a brand, Circle K is an acknowledged leader in the convenience retail sector, and this deal will allow for disruption in this space as we are a company with extensive expertise in every facet of convenience and retail.”

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