History and Timeline

Circle K’s success in the convenience retailing industry spans more than 60 years. Our roots trace back to 1951 when Fred Hervey purchased three Kay’s Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Little did anyone know that these stores would serve as the beginning of Circle K – one of the nation’s leading convenience store chains.

During the early years, Hervey’s enterprising spirit enabled the company to make its mark in the southwestern part of the United States. He grew the Circle K chain into neighboring New Mexico and Arizona, which has been the company’s home base since 1957.

During the next few decades, Circle K grew its retail network through a series of acquisitions, which were incorporated into the Circle K brand. By 1975, there were 1,000 Circle K stores across the US. In 1979, Circle K entered the international market when a licensing agreement established the first Circle K stores in Japan. The company’s growth continued and by 1984 sales had reached $1 billion.

In 1999, a franchise program was introduced to support operators looking to build a business with a leading convenience store brand. Now there are more than 7,000 Circle K sites operating in the US and thirteen other countries.

Circle K has become one of the most widely recognized convenience store brands, known worldwide for quality products and great customer service. We have come a long way since our humble beginnings, and we’re proud of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Please visit our timeline to learn more about the Circle K story.


Circle K opens its 200th store in Tucson, Arizona.


The 1,000th store is opened on Christmas Day in Lehi, Utah.


Circle K signs its first licensing agreement with a Japanese retail chain.


Sales reach the $1 billion mark.
Circle K acquires 435 Little General stores.

Circle K adopts United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) as its national charity and begins fundraising efforts in its stores.


The company is purchased by Investcorp, an international investment group, and emerges from bankruptcy.

The tagline“Circle K – We’re on the Way” is introduced.


Circle K completes an initial public offering of 6.5 million shares of common stock. The company stock is traded under the symbol CRK on the New York Stock Exchange.

Circle K launches Emily’s Meals & More, a new business venture in the home meal replacement category.

Circle K forms a marketing alliance to sell 76-branded gasoline at stores in Arizona and Nevada.


Fred Hervey, Circle K’s founder, dies at the age of 90 in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.


Circle K celebrates 50 years of fast, friendly service.

Phillips Petroleum Company, headquartered in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, acquires Tosco Corporation and the Circle K brand.


The company launches a new creative campaign for the Circle K brand with the tagline “What Else Do You Need?”


Circle K gains 22 new stores in an acquisition from Shell Oil Products


250 Circle K stores are scheduled to be opened in Mexico by a subsidiary of Grupo Kaltex,
S.A. de C.V.


Circle K heads overseas, adding licensing for stores in the Social Republic of Vietnam through GR Vietnam International Limited.


26 stores are added to Circle K’s Great
Lakes Division.


Circle K adds 27 stores in eastern Washington State from Sun Pacific Energy


The “Pepe” logo is introduced illustrating a young boy dashing to the nearest Circle K store.


The Foodservice Division is introduced and sandwiches are made in the company’s fast food kitchen.

The company marks its 20th anniversary with the opening of its 500th Circle K store in Deer Valley, Arizona.


The Thirst Buster® fountain drink is introduced. Circle K acquires 960 UtoteM stores doubling the company’s size.


After years of rapid expansion and learning the hard lessons of 1980s corporate economics, Circle K files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


The tagline “Circle K – A Better Way” is introduced.


Circle K is acquired by Tosco Corporation, an independent petroleum refiner and marketer. The company keeps its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.


The Arizona Republic votes Circle K coffee the “Best Cup of Coffee” in Phoenix.


Thirst Freezer®, the Circle K proprietary brand of frozen beverages, is introduced.

Circle K is named the “Official Pit Stop of NASCAR.” The Circle K Domestic Franchise Program is launched.


Phillips Petroleum Company and Conoco Inc. merge to create ConocoPhillips, head- quartered in Houston, Texas. ConocoPhillips becomes the new owner of Circle K.


Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. acquires The Circle K Corporation


Circle K picks up 75 additional stores in the Western US from ConocoPhillips


Circle K adds 236 new stores throughout the US in an acquisition from Shell Oil Products US and Motiva Enterprises LLC


Bigger and better than ever, Circle K celebrates its 60-year anniversary


First Circle K President and convenience store icon John A. Gillett, Jr., passes away at the age of 87.

... and the future is bright, too!