Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the Circle K Grand Opening

Phnom Penh
February 1, 2018

Your Excellency Kem Sithan, Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce; Mr. Robert Southwick, Director of International Franchise, Circle K; Mr. Norm Tong of the TH CVS Company; distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen.

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this grand opening of Circle K in Cambodia. I am happy to see this iconic, American-born brand in Phnom Penh and excited to know it will be expanding to other parts of the country in the coming years.

Circle K is a very familiar company to me, a store I remember from growing up. Back then, the company was much younger, but its stores were everywhere in the United States.

Circle K was founded in 1951 in El Paso, Texas, a town known as “Sun City”. By 1975, there were over 1,000 Circle K stores across America, including one in my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.

I remember as a kid, on hot summer days, you could ride your bike down to the Circle K and buy something called a Thirst Buster, which was a big, old cup of ice cold soda pop.

It didn’t matter how hot, tired, or thirsty you were – when you got hold of a Thirst Buster – it made all your troubles disappear. I haven’t forgotten those days and I still have a fondness for the Circle K Thirst Buster.

Of course, the Circle K of today offers a lot more than just Thirst Busters – it offers snacks, fruits, drinks, coffee, and many other products in an attractive shopping environment.

A second reason today is so exciting is because it marks the arrival of another global brand in Cambodia. That is a testament to how far the country has come economically and a sign of where it is going.

It wasn’t that long ago that mini-marts and convenience stores were absent from Phnom Penh. Just ten years ago, there were only a handful of small markets selling international products, and no internationally known retail chains. Product variety and quality varied from day to day.

Today, Cambodia has convenience stores, modern supermarkets, even organic markets. As the country’s economy has grown, it has attracted more investment from some of the world’s leading brands. It is part of the reason why we are welcoming Circle K into Cambodia today.

Given the high standards of Circle K, I expect the company will contribute to changing face of retail operations across the country. More and more, Cambodian customers are demanding high-quality products and top-notch customer service.

I’m confident they will find both at Circle K, and that Circle K will raise the bar for others going forward.

Before I close, I want to thank Norm Tong and the TH CVS team for playing such an important role in promoting the economic relationship between the United States and Cambodia.

In addition to Circle K, the TH CVS Company represents Chevrolet, Cold Stone Creamery, and Carl’s Jr. TH CVS understands Cambodia’s market, knows how to work with American partners, and pays close attention to training their workers.

We look forward to continuing to work together to promote American brands that raise retail and product standards and create good jobs for Cambodia workers.

I wish TH CVS Company, as well as Circle K, somnang lahoh (good luck) now and in the future. Ohkun chraaln. (Thank you very much). Thank you everyone.