Updated: Super Pantry chain sold

Updated: Super Pantry chain sold

CHAMPAIGN — The number of CIrcle K convenience stores in Champaign-Urbana could jump from 13 to 21, if all stores remain open after the acquisition of the Super Pantry chain by Circle K's owner.

Champaign-based Tri Star Marketing has agreed to sell the Super Pantry chain to Alimentation Couche-Tard, one of the world's largest operators of convenience stores, the Quebec-based company announced Tuesday.

Super Pantry, which has 55 stores in Illinois and Indiana, is owned and operated by Tri Star, a third-generation family business with headquarters at 2211 W. Bradley Ave., C.

Following the acquisition, all the stores will be operated under the Circle K brand by Couche-Tard's Midwest Division.

Jon Stewart, the president and CEO of Tri Star Marketing, called the proposed sale "a true win for both consumers and shareholders of both organizations" in a release issued by Couche-Tard.

"I am personally excited about this transaction. The addition of Super Pantry to Couche-Tard's network of convenience stores will complement its leadership position under the Circle K brand," Stewart said.

Attempts to reach Stewart for further comment on the sale — including its effect on employees at the Champaign headquarters — were not immediately successful.

Tri Star Marketing, which today employs more than 500, began as the Russell Stewart Oil Co. in 1947. Stewart began selling fuel to rural and commercial customers, and as the business grew, he added retail gasoline stations.

The stations were affiliated with brands such as Texaco, Phillips 66 and eventually Gulf, but when Gulf withdrew from branded marketing in Illinois, Russell and his son Dean sold gasoline as an independent. In 1989, the corporation changed its name to Tri Star Marketing and has since entered into franchise agreements with Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil.

Dean Stewart retired in 2009 and died Feb. 9 of this year. Jon Stewart, the president and CEO, is Dean's son and Russell's grandson.

The purchase price for the acquisition has not been disclosed yet, Couche-Tard said, citing a confidentiality agreement. The transaction is expected to close before Oct. 12, the end of the second quarter of Couche-Tard's fiscal year.

The Super Pantry chain includes 51 stores in Illinois and four in Indiana. Area stores include six in Champaign, two each in Urbana, Rantoul, Danville, Mahomet and Monticello and one each in Savoy, Clinton and Villa Grove.

Circle K operates eight stores in Champaign, five stores in Urbana and one in Rantoul.

The closest overlaps in Champaign-Urbana are at Lincoln Avenue and Green Street in Urbana, where Super Pantry and Circle K are across the street from each other; and on North Prospect Avenue in Champaign, where a Super Pantry and Circle K are four blocks apart.

But there's no certainty Couche-Tard will move to shut down one or the other if both are doing well. For several years, there have been two Circle K's on North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana, only five blocks apart.

Once Super Pantry becomes part of Couche Tard's Circle K Midwest Division, that division will have 600 company-operated stores and 193 locations under wholesale or franchise agreements.

Couche-Tard said it plans to keep the existing fuel brands at Super Pantry locations. In addition to buying 54 store properties and leasing a 55th, the company plans to acquire three bulk plant facilities from Tri Star Marketing.

Based in Laval, Quebec, Couche-Tard has 6,241 convenience stores in North America. It is the convenience store leader in Canada, and in the United States, it is the largest independent convenience store operator in terms of number of company-operated stores.

In Europe, the company is a major player in convenience stores in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and has a growing presence in Poland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

It also licenses the Circle K brand in 12 other countries around the world, for an overall total of 13,100 sites around the world.

Price check

How some popular items stacked up in price Wednesday at the Mobil Super Pantry, 810 W. Green St., U, and the Marathon Circle K, just across the street at 809 W. Green St., U:

Item Super Pantry Circle K
Gallon of unleaded gas $3.559 $3.559
Case of Budweiser $16.99 $16.99
12 oz. premium coffee $1.19 99 cents
24 oz. premium coffee $1.79 $1.59
24 oz. fountain soft drink 99 cents 79 cents
64 oz. fountain soft drink $1.49 79 cents


Sections (3):News, Local, Business


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Orbiter wrote on July 30, 2014 at 11:07 am

Good bye, competition.  Hello higher prices.


And what will happen in the many instances where a super pantry is adjacent or across the street from a circle k?  


Good bye, jobs.  Hello blight.

DEB wrote on July 30, 2014 at 11:07 am

Jon and his wife are such assets to CU. Among the nicest people I've met, they are quietly but deeply involved in local public and charitable affairs. It warms my heart to hear that things are going well for them.  I hope, however, that this does not signal a move out of our little town.

Speakerman11 wrote on July 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Circle K is the first to raise fuel prices in the area.  Murphy Oil (in front of Wal-Marts) tend to stay at a lower price for longer.  Circle K inside retail prices aren't nearly as aggressive as its competitors offer, nor do they have the variety of goods.  Kind of disappointing.  The Staley Road SuperPantry is a wonderful store. 


787 wrote on July 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm

The Super Pantry stores are the first to jack up the price of gas, and the others follow along.  

Right now, ALL of the Super Pantry stores are at $3.55, when most others are still 20 cents a gallon less.

SaintClarence27 wrote on July 31, 2014 at 9:07 am

How is this good for the consumers again?  If I'm getting a fountain drink, right now there are options. If I don't have a cup with me, I go to Circle K for the cheap initial (non-refill). If I do, I like to get my 100oz mega chill refilled with Diet Dr. Pepper for $1.08 after tax. Now I have no idea what I'm going to do.

I miss it already.

allenschwass wrote on July 31, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Tri-Star Marketing has been an icon in Champaign for over 30 years. This will be a sad occasion to see another business go to dust in our great city. It was good while it lasted.

just_wondering wrote on July 31, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Blessing in disguise. 

If all of you folks suddenly can't afford that half gallon of soda a couple times a day, you might actually not need not to test your insulin, inject yourself with insulin, have your extremities amputated and get prosthetic limbs, take hypertension medicine, get lap band surgery, have angioplasty .......

SaintClarence27 wrote on August 01, 2014 at 8:08 am

DIET Dr. Pepper. And I'm as healthy as a horse. 

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 01, 2014 at 10:08 am

The life expectancy of a horse averages 25 to 30 years, less if they guzzle diet dr pepper. 

Go for it. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on August 01, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I'd like to see the studies on the life expectancy of horses when guzzling Diet Dr. Pepper, thanks.

Chambanacitizen wrote on August 03, 2014 at 8:08 am


100 oz is disgusting. That's 1250 calories in just soda alone.  Enjoy the link above. 


Orbiter wrote on August 04, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Have any of you actually tried to buy a pint of milk at any of these establishments?  Generally they do offer milk, and I'm grateful of it, since I don't have to walk a half mile through Meijer or Walmart to get to the dairy case, only to discover that the smallest they sell is a half-gallon. Not so good for my lunchbox.  Alas, in summertime some of the Circle K's stop stocking adequate milk, and the slot in the cooler is empty.


I'm glad they do stock milk though. I just wish it wasn't a mere token, amidst a hundred brands of sugary junk drink.


Now go to the "convenience stores" on Green street (on campus) and try to find milk.  You won't.  At all.  I've tried. They sell junk food, beer, and sugar water.  Blech!

SaintClarence27 wrote on August 05, 2014 at 8:08 am

If I'm just buying milk, I'd go to a smaller grocery store.

And I just don't get the hate on diet soda.