South African private equity firm Millat Group and global energy business Puma Energy have concluded an agreement to roll out internationally-recognized retail store brand ‘Circle K’, at Puma Energy’s forecourts across the country.

The move is expected to improve South Africa’s convenience store landscape.

According to a statement, the partnership grants Millat an exclusive license to develop Circle K stores around the country. This comes after the brand’s owner Alimentation Couche-Tard and Millat Convenience concluded a franchise deal to bring the global convenience store to local markets.

“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,” adds Millat Group CEO Hamza Farooqui.

“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.”

The company’s say local Circle K stores will also employ in-house baristas to offer a “superior coffee program”.

This follows the opening of the first store in Moreleta Park, located in the east of Pretoria, on Thursday.

Ben Ouatarra – Puma Energy COO for Africa; Tasneem Motara – Gauteng MEC for Economic Development; Hamza Farooqui – CEO of Millat Investments at the opening. Image: Supplied

Five more stores are set to open in Gauteng and in the North West province in the coming months, including a standalone operation at the University of Johannesburg, which will open at the end of January 2023.

The roll-out is expected to continue throughout Puma Energy’s current network of 112 retail sites in South Africa.

The agreement is expected to see the employment and training of around 2,000 people, further boosting the retail industry’s supply chain in the country.

Farooqui says petrol station forecourts have become a major new driver of retail commerce, with consumers not only looking for variety and quality but also a better shopping experience.

“Bringing Circle K to South Africa aligns with our concept of introducing customer-centric brands, experiences, and compelling food service offerings,” he adds.

“This further speaks to our strategy to play within the leisure, hospitality, food services 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.”

Non-fuels retail manager for Africa Janet Sithole says the deal is the start of an “exciting new chapter” of Puma Energy’s story in South Africa. She adds that Circle K’s reputation and commitment to quality and customer service is in tune with its plans to create high-quality fuel and convenience outlets for customers.

Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.



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