South Pacific Petroleum Corp. which does business as Circle K convenience stores and 76 gas brand will offer Guam a new Circle K concept. Two new Circle K locations in Tumon will open solely as retail outlets. Michael A. Hernandez retail marketing director for SPPC said.

Hernandez said that the two new Circle K stores would be located at the Fountain Plaza and the Sun Plaza where the 7-Eleven convenience stores were located.

Micronesia Seven Inc. which does business as 7-Eleven; closed all of its outlets the week of Oct. 2. Micronesia Seven ran eight 7-Eleven outlets located in Barrigada Piti Yigo Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station lower Tumon the Fountain Plaza the Sun Plaza and the Blue Lagoon. The Barrigada and NCTS outlets were located in Shell gas stations and the Yigo and Piti outlets were located in Mobil gas stations (See "7-Eleven convenience stores close down" in the Oct. 16 edition of the Journal.).

"We hope to begin renovations by mid December and to be completed by the end of January." Hernandez told the Journal that the targeted opening date for both stores is Feb. 1

He could not say how much would be invested into the renovations. "Right now we’re under that budget review. We’re meeting with the contractors and interior designers. The amount that we’ll invest will be something that’ll give it an upscale feel. It will lean towards the new design of all Circle Ks that we’ll eventually see on Guam."

The existing 10 Circle K locations will be renovated to mirror the design of the two new locations but Hernandez could not give any specific details as to when that would start. However he said SPPC hopes to have all the renovations done by the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008.

The Sun Plaza location is approximately 1 850 square feet and the Fountain Plaza location is about 1 250 square feet.

The opening of the two additional Circle K locations will bring the total number of Circle K convenience stores on Guam to 12. Both stores will be open 24 hours and have 10 to 12 employees each.

Hernandez said that after the 7-Eleven convenience stores closed down the landlord approached SPPC about taking over the lease. "We’ve always had our eye on eventually getting into the Tumon district and with the 7-Eleven closure the opportunity presented itself sooner than later."

The basic foundation of the two new Circle K locations will be similar to the rest of the Circle K locations on Guam. "We will tailor the stores to some degree for the Japanese market. There are Circle Ks that are in Japan and other Asian markets so we’ll utilize some of their expertise and merchandising the store so when tourists come and see the Circle K logo they’ll recognize the logo and hopefully find products and services they’re familiar with back in their respective countries."

Hernandez said there are more than 3 000 Circle Ks in Japan and that the majority of those convenience stores don’t sell gasoline.

In an earlier interview with the Journal Alan Bouchard chairman of the board president and chief executive officer of Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. which does business as Couche-Tard in French Canada Mac’s in other areas of Canada and Circle K in the U.S.; said that he would welcome the same sort of expansion in Micronesia that his group has seen in its other markets (See "Couche-Tard encourages SPPC to expand" in the April 4 2005 edition of the Journal.).

In Guam the convenience store market industry experts estimate is worth about $20 million annually. Depending on size and location a convenience store on Guam can earn per month gross between $20 000 at the low end and $60 000 to $80 000. Bouchard said "For us Guam is part of our international division "" which is mainly in Asia and which became very important for us after the Circle K acquisition which is why we are here." SPPC he said contributes "under 5%" to the group.

According to its Web site there are more than 2 100 Circle K stores across the U.S. and over 4 000 international locations.MBJ