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03/02/2022

Circle K Invests in Farmstead Supply Chain, E-Commerce, and Distribution

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has announced that its Circle K Venture Fund has invested in U.S.-based Farmstead — a grocery and convenience delivery service — to pilot commercial programs that can compete in the delivery and distribution space for urban and suburban consumers. 

Circle K’s investment arm launched in 2020, securing equity stakes in several companies since then. More than half of the fund’s initial $100 million is devoted to companies developing “forward-looking solutions focused on enhancing the customer experience in its stores and beyond.”

The fund has also worked to enhance the in-store customer experience with technology that enables teams to focus more on customer service and workforce efficiency. As labor challenges have persisted over the last several months, the fund has also invested in technology that taps into the gig economy to help retailers alleviate staffing issues.

Claude Tessier, Couche-Tard's chief financial officer, said Circle K’s investments and partnerships have allowed the company to participate in the growth of innovative companies that are meeting the evolving needs of consumers’ convenience needs.

[Related: Farmstead to Enable EBT/SNAP Benefits For Grocery E-Commerce Orders]

"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," said Tessier.

Investments Across the Business Ecosystem

Farmstead is also partnering with Circle K to explore new supply chain, distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, and marketing models.

    The companies are looking to work alongside each other on a variety of new projects, among them being:
    • Opening up new formats for e-commerce fulfillment in U.S. suburbs using Farmstead’s Grocery OS tech stack and Circle K’s retail footprint
    • Improving Farmstead’s national supply chain for non-perishables and convenience items
    • Collaborating on distribution
    • Co-marketing across a variety of new projects

According to Kevin Lewis, chief marketing officer at Alimentation Couche-Tard, the convenience landscape is changing dramatically.

Pradeep Elankumaran, co-founder and CEO at Farmstead, said the company is also in the early stages of significant change, and this requires new supply chain and technological alliances. 

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Circle K on that journey, with its scale and decades of multinational experience in the convenience industry, and to be advancing with Circle K as an investor,” said Elankumaran.

“When we met the Farmstead team, we saw an opportunity to partner with them, exploring and learning about the new behavior of our U.S. suburban consumers using e-commerce and last-mile systems that lead to actual long-term profitability,” said Lewis.

As part of the partnership, Lewis says  Alimentation Couche-Tard is looking to cultivate and support retail innovation that “transforms the customer experience in our stores and beyond.”

Circle K’s most recent investments include Food Rocket, another grocery and convenience and delivery company, and Pensa Systems, an AI solutions provider for retail-in-store data and analytics.

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