After breaking both international and domestic store growth records last year, 7-Eleven Inc. plans to have even more growth in 2012.
Last year, the chain added more than 4,600 stores throughout the world. About 600 of these stores were built, acquired or transitioned from another business to the 7-Eleven brand in the U.S. and Canada alone during 2011. This year, the company’s goal is to open at least 630 new stores to the U.S. and Canada roster.
7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto said the company’s main growth strategy includes building greater market presence and adding quality locations in metropolitan areas where the company already has stores.
“The financial strength of 7-Eleven has enabled us to grow aggressively, even in what has been a challenging economic environment for many companies in the past four years,” DePinto said.
About 56% of 7-Eleven’s growth in the U.S. last year was because of several acquisitions that increased the store density in New York, Florida, Illinois, Colorado and the Northwest. The largest purchase was Wilson Farms Inc., a Buffalo-based convenience store chain with 188 stores in New York state. The company gained a lot of stores in Western New York.
“In the world of real estate and development, it has been a buyer’s market, and we have been in the enviable position to capitalize on property and space availability plus 7-Eleven’s strong credit rating,” said Dan Porter, 7-Eleven’s real estate vice president.
This year, 7-Eleven plans to re-enter two markets: Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., both locations previously operated stores until the 1980s. The company also wants to double its 20-store presence in Manhattan in the next year, and grow to about 135 units by 2017.
So far, 7-Eleven has acquired 55 locations from Sam’s Mart in the Carolinas and 51 from ExxonMobil in North Texas.
“We have successfully increased 7-Eleven’s store footprint in several of our most dynamic markets,” Porter said. “Year-to-date, 7-Eleven already has added more than 200 new locations in North America. We believe we are adding more new locations this year around the world than any other company, and are the second fastest-growing food retailer in the U.S., based on new store openings.”
Franchise opportunities have also grown for 7-Eleven. In the U.S., 80% of 7-Eleven’s stores are franchised. More than 300 are franchised through the company’s business conversion program, where independent operators convert their stores to the 7-Eleven brand with the store owner becoming a 7-Eleven franchisee. Twenty-five stores have been franchised through the company’s reduced franchise-fee offering for qualified military veterans.