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Jan 15, 2021

Couche-Tard's retail lab on campus gives peek at tech trials

Investors question Alimentation Couche-Tard bid for Carrefour as food retail not an expertise: Analyst


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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and McGill University are opening a retail lab in Montreal that will let consumers get a taste for technologies that may transform retail.

The store, located on the downtown campus in Montreal, includes a cashierless corner where shoppers enter and check out using a Couche-Tard app, the partners said Thursday. It will give McGill faculty and students a chance to do research and testing in a real retail environment.

“By having a live laboratory, we are confident that the research projects and technologies successfully tested at the lab may eventually be implemented in some of our 14,220 stores across our global network,” Couche-Tard Chief Technology Officer Deborah Hall Lefevre said in a press release.

The store gives a rare peak into innovation being considered by Couche-Tard, a Quebec-based convenience store giant that has taken the spotlight this week with a US$20 billion bid for French grocer Carrefour SA. Last year, the company said it was preparing to roll out automated checkout at select stores in the U.S.

The McGill store isn’t exactly a typical Couche-Tard, reflecting its campus location and students’ tastes. It won’t sell products like alcohol or tobacco, and will have a heavier-than-usual focus on healthy products.

The lab is part of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management, which opened in late 2018 with the goal of offering a curriculum that’s attuned to the realities of the business.

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