Parkland Expanding On the Run Into United States
By Angela Altass
Parkland Corporation recently acquired the license for the exclusive use of the On the Run trademark in the majority of the United States, positioning the creation of a unified North American convenience store brand.
“We are excited to expand the On the Run convenience store brand across the U.S. and harness the advantages of our scale,” says Ian White, senior vice president, strategic marketing and innovation at Parkland. “As we continue to advance our ambitious growth strategy, the time is right to create a unified North American retail and convenience store brand. On the Run is an established retail brand that we can quickly and efficiently scale by leveraging the capabilities we have established in the Canadian market.”
Parkland is looking at a potential five-year plan to carry out this expansion project.
“I would say that within the next three or so years we intend to brand as many of our 60 existing company operated locations in the U.S. and we will start to work towards the 300 or so dealers that we have in our network to identify who is eligible for an On the Run banner,” says White. “We’ve been fairly public with our position for the U.S. in terms of it being a key growth engine for Parkland, particularly in the retail space, and we intend to use On the Run, and the branding capability that comes with it, as the foundation for future acquisition opportunities and to ensure that we have a platform for growth in the c-store space.”
Even a global pandemic can’t dampen the enthusiasm and vision behind Parkland’s expansion.
“From a Parkland perspective, we are even more bullish on c-store space than we were prior to the pandemic,” says White. “The change in, and evolution of, consumer behaviour has given us even more confidence in our business model and in the role c-store plays in the Parkland eco-system in terms of our distribution of earnings. Our goal is to continue to evolve the portfolio to allow us to have a stronger contribution.”
White further explains the company’s viewpoint on bolstering their commitment to expansion: “From a spend perspective, we will be prudent subject to market conditions but we intend to invest in this and to ensure its’ success. The most resilient component of our business at Parkland has been the convenience stores.”
Consumers have been frequenting Parkland locations for c-store as well as gas purchases throughout the pandemic, notes White.
“We have remained open while reinforcing our position in the communities we serve,” says White. “We are proud of the fact that we have the capability to roll out the On the Run banner at a North American level with the kind of scale that makes us feel like we have a winning offer and something that we should continue to invest in.”
As it gets set to move that banner into 46 of the U.S. states, Parkland is experiencing a strong c-store business north of the border.
“At the point of reporting our second quarter results, our company c-store growth was about 12 per cent and that represented our 18th consecutive quarter of c-store sales growth,” notes Simon Scott, director, corporate communications, Parkland. “Our c-store business has proven to be consistently resilient.”
Parkland has acquired, for a one-time fee, the perpetual license for the exclusive use of the On the Run trademark in the majority of the United States.
“The On the Run retail brand provides a solid platform for our continued U.S. growth,” says Doug Haugh, president, Parkland U.S.A. “Building on our existing On the Run brand image, product assortments and private label goods in Canada, we look forward to meeting the convenience needs of our U.S. customers under the On the Run banner. Our U.S. customers will enjoy enhanced interior and exterior rebranding elements, larger and brighter canopies and a variety of new product offerings, all backed by their same local and friendly service teams.”
A backbone to Parkland’s continued success is the focus of working as a team.
“It is a team focus that has allowed Parkland to be successful and will allow us to continue to be successful in the future,” comments White. “The way we structure our organization is that it is not exclusive to any one geography. On the Run is a great example: We wouldn’t want to go into the U.S. and recreate a lot of the activity and opportunities we have already generated in Canada. We want to learn from those and build on them. We want to ensure that we go to market with the most effective offer by learning from what we have already been able to generate since taking the On the Run name over from Imperial Oil three years ago.”
With a consistent brand image, On the Run is also looking to create value for consumers.
“We want to make sure that customers feel that they are getting good value from our brands as well as continue our connection to community,” states White. “In a lot of cases, our community involvement sets us apart. The acquisitions Parkland has made tend to be very locally connected either through ownership, brands, or the length of time in those areas. While we want to take the best of our learnings and apply them to our acquisitions, we never want to lose that connection to the communities that we are serving.”
On the Canadian side of the border, the On the Run expansion into the United States will bring an opportunity to look at things on a great scale and potentially take some learnings from the U.S. business, notes White.
“Having the ability to share best practices across multiple geographies sets Parkland up to be even more successful,” says White. “Parkland will continue to be committed to the communities that we serve, building a great team, and, ultimately, delivering great value for our share-holders. I also think one of the things that we’ve been able to deliver is growth. We are a company committed to growth and most importantly, through organic growth, taking the assets that we have and ensuring that we have compelling products and services to offer consumers and that we are doing it the right way. Through acquisitions, we buy great businesses, bring them into the Parkland family, and allow them to be successful. Safety is also a big component as we continue to operate in our communities in a safe and ethical manner.”
The growth trajectory for the Parkland business is very exciting, says Scott.
“We are very fortunate that we have built an organization that is capable of delivering organic growth across all our geographies and within each of our business segments and that is testimony to the team,” says Scott. “I think as we go forward, there will be a continued emphasis on our organic growth, which then helps enable and support our ability to identify and acquire exciting quality businesses and incorporate them within Parkland. The opportunity for growth has our employees excited and we have a track record of doing it successfully so we feel confident that we can continue to keep doing it.”
Parkland has always exhibited pride in being a Canadian company, adds White: “I would say that we are evolving that thinking into being a proud international company with strong Canadian roots. Recognizing that we are operating in multiple geographies requires us to adapt everything, from how we serve customers to the brands we fly to the products and services we offer, but we continue to work as one Parkland team delivering good value.”