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    7-Eleven Accelerating Store Growth

    C-store chain expects to add more than 200 new stores in the U.S. and Canada this year.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. is aggressively growing and expects to add more than 200 new stores in the United States and Canada this year. The c-store chain said its multi-pronged approach to growth includes in-line, end-cap space in shopping centers, freestanding stores, urban locations in light industrial sites, city residential areas and suburbia.

    Plans call for the convenience chain to accelerate store development over the next several years through organic growth, acquisitions and its Business Conversion Program, the company said in a news release. The convenience retailer, which operates and franchises more than 6,200 stores in the U.S. and Canada, opened 170 stores in 2008.

    "7-Eleven is looking to partner with property owners on new site development to determine how both parties can succeed for the long term and survive or even thrive in these difficult market conditions," said Dan Porter, 7-Eleven’s vice president of real estate. "The company is investment grade and therefore, an attractive tenant for landlords."

    Among the growth markets 7-Eleven is targeting are: New York; New Jersey; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Tidewater, Va.; Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Fla.; Dallas-Ft. Worth; Chicago; Denver; Salt Lake City; the San Francisco Bay area; Seattle; Los Angeles, San Diego, Calif.; and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

    Typical 7-Eleven stores have 1,800 to 2,200 square feet of selling space within densely inhabited areas that have strong daytime traffic. The company also wants to be part of re-gentrification in its growth markets, according to the news release.

    7-Eleven’s latest growth vehicle is its Business Conversion Program, through which the company looks for existing independent retail store operators who want to convert to the national chain and become part of 7-Eleven’s franchise system. 7-Eleven said it invests an average of $280,000 into these conversions. If the existing owner holds the lease or owns the building, they retain the responsibility for the real estate.

    There are 110 locations that have been converted since the program started in 2006.

    "7-Eleven is expanding amid the gloom of retail retrenching," Porter said in a statement. "There is opportunity for our company to fill the void at once-vibrant locations that are going vacant. We are flexible in that we will buy a site and remodel, sign 10-year shopping center, building or ground leases with options to renew or purchase a site at the right location and build a ground-up store."

    To support its growth plans, 7-Eleven is reviewing its portfolio of leased stores and their rental rates. 7-Eleven’s real estate development team is evaluating individual sites to ensure rates are in line with current market values and identify opportunities to work with landlords who may be experiencing lease defaults or retail flight by current tenants.

    "By moving rents to market values, we will further support our efforts to develop new locations bringing more jobs, taxes and commerce to local communities," said Porter.

    7-Eleven and its real estate team are participating in the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Global Retail Real Estate Convention, taking place this Sunday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The company’s booth at the show has been fabricated to appear like a 7-Eleven store.

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