balmar petroleum rebranding to 7eleven

CEO Richard Oneslager calls decision to become a franchisee a “tremendous opportunity.”

The incoming chairman for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) will convert 10 of his Colorado convenience outlets to 7-Eleven stores this month in a move designed to strengthen his offering to customers and improve his bottom line.

Richard Oneslager, president of Firsthand Management, LLC, the retail operating arm of Balmar Petroleum, a petroleum fuels distributing company headquartered in Centennial, Colo., has finalized a deal with 7-Eleven, Inc. making him a 7-Eleven Business Conversion Program (BCP) franchisee for his stores in northern Colorado.

Active in the convenience store industry for more than 13 years, Oneslager heads the operation of 14 company-owned convenience/gasoline sites in Colorado and 16 stores in Portland, Ore. He serves as the treasurer of NACS, but will vacate this position on Nov. 9 to assume the industry trade organization’s chairmanship.

The 10 Colorado stores that will be franchised with 7-Eleven will continue to offer Shell- and Conoco-branded gasoline, which is currently sold at these locations and provided by Balmar.

Firsthand Management is among initial companies in the country to participate in 7-Eleven’s Business Conversion Program and is the largest multi-site store conversion under this arrangement to date.

“With rising prices and credit card fees, and gas margins continuing to erode, we see the store offer as increasingly important,” Oneslager said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to increase merchandise sales and margins inside our stores with 7-Eleven’s proprietary systems, signature products and ability to leverage cost of goods. We believe this a sound back-court solution for independent retailers in the fuel and convenience retailing business.”

As part of the BCP agreement, 7-Eleven will invest to upgrade the 10 Firsthand stores, provide new equipment, its sophisticated retail information system, business counseling and support. In addition, these stores become part of 7-Eleven’s infrastructure and will benefit from the daily delivery of fresh foods and other time-sensitive products, its proprietary supply chain system and technology.

“Adding Firsthand stores to our franchise system meets our goals of growing our operation in key markets, expanding 7-Eleven’s convenience offering to more people and will add economies of scale to our infrastructure and advertising,” said Jeff Schenck, 7-Eleven’s senior vice president of franchising and development.

Oneslager said he has always admired what 7-Eleven has done with its stores, especially its ability to offer a consistent fresh food program and its supply chain.

“We think 7-Eleven has the best convenience store operating system in the world. This will be a big win for our team, our customers and employees, who will grow professionally because of the new association with 7-Eleven,” Oneslager said. “Just as important, we now are better positioned to really grow our store business. All of us in the gasoline sales business are feeling the pinch and increased volatility of gasoline margins.

“To be successful long term and improve our profitability, we needed a new business format, a well-recognized brand with trademarked products and services the consumer readily appreciates and a business system with solid marketing plans.”

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