The Circle K convenience store chain is expanding in Wisconsin, with plans to open 60 stores in the state and create 1,200 jobs.
Company officials discussed the plans Thursday at a ribbon cutting for the brand’s third store in the Green Bay area.
They said the new stores are expected to open in Wisconsin in the next several years. The expansion in the Badger State is part of a larger effort to open 500 stores across the globe, with the vast majority in North America.
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Circle K currently has about 14,200 stores in 26 counties and territories, with about 124,000 employees.
The new stores planned for Wisconsin represent over 10 percent of the new facilities planned to open in the next five years. The company already has roughly 30 stores in Wisconsin.
Mark Kestnbaum, vice president of real estate for Circle K, said most of the brand’s stores are in the northwest part of the state, with three in northeast Wisconsin. He said they plan to first expand in areas where they already have stores, but are exploring potential locations in central and southern Wisconsin.
“We’re taking a look at the entire state, and we have certain areas that we’re very excited about,” Kestnbaum said. “Some of them are a little bit secret, but we’re very excited about Green Bay (and) Appleton, especially.”
As Circle K expands in the Badger State, one of the main competitors it will face is Kwik Trip, a La Crosse-based company with over 500 stores in Wisconsin.
Gary Brant, business unit vice president for Circle K, said the company welcomes the competition with Kwik Trip.
“We’re very happy to be in the same conversation as Kwik Trip here in Wisconsin,” he said. “They do a fantastic job. We just feel we’ve got a different offer and a different opportunity with our brand that we can bring to our customers.”
A spokesperson for Kwik Trip declined to comment on Circle K’s expansion, and the possibility of increased competition.
One place where Circle K could expand in Wisconsin without coming head-to-head with Kwik Trip is the city of Milwaukee, which does not have a Kwik Trip location. Kwik Trip officials have previously said the chain needs two to three acres for a new store, and that it couldn’t find real estate that size in Milwaukee at a reasonable price.
Kestnbaum said the state’s largest city is on Circle K’s radar, but right now it’s still working to establish its footprint in Wisconsin and “establishing a strong operations track record.”
“That means that we have stores that are part of a broader network,” he said. “More to come on the potential of Milwaukee.”
Brant said Circle K aims to hire employees who live in the same communities where stores open.
He also said the company provides opportunities for advancement, noting he first joined the industry as a cashier.
“As we continue to open more (stores), we’ll continue to be part of that community,” he said. “Our managers, our employees, everybody that’s working at the (Green Bay) store is from this community.”
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