Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.'s strategy to boost sales of higher-margin fresh foods has hit a bump with the departure of the point man on that file.
Joseph Chiovera, the vice-president of food service at the Laval, Que.-based convenience-store giant, confirmed that he is no longer working there.
Mr. Chiovera was hired just two years ago to spearhead an aggressive fresh-food strategy to offset declining cigarette sales and low-margin gasoline returns.
Fresh food accounted for about 18 per cent of gross margins late last year, but Couche-Tard president and chief executive officer Alain Bouchard wants to eventually take that to 25 per cent.
Reached at his home in the city of The Colony, Tex., Mr. Chiovera said he doesn't want to go into the reasons for his departure.
"I don't think that would be appropriate," he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
He added: "The separation was amicable."
Officials at Couche-Tard did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Chiovera put together a five-year strategic plan for hot and fresh food services in Couche-Tard stores, including those in the U.S. under the Circle K banner.
He joined Couche-Tard after occupying the position of senior director of fresh foods at Dallas-based rival 7-Eleven Inc.
Couche-Tard operates more than 6,000 stores across North America and has about 60,000 employees.
It also has about 2,300 locations in Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltics and Russia.