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    7-Eleven Franchising Strategy Moves East

    Corporate stores being offered to the public for the first time.

    RICHMOND, Va. -- After offering 7-Eleven company-operated convenience stores in Virginia to existing store managers for franchise opportunities, the company is now extending the offer to the public for the first time.

    "We are offering the opportunity for people in the community to run their own business using a proven, successful system, and with the support of the world's largest convenience retailer," Gary Gray, 7-Eleven franchise sales director for Virginia and neighboring states, said in a written statement.

    By December, the company expects to have nearly 500 franchisees in the area -- including Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Virginia metro areas -- with plans to convert 400 company-operated 7-Eleven stores into franchised locations over the next four to five years.

    Approximately 100 locations are in the northern Virginia area, centered in the Alexandria, Fairfax and Arlington counties; almost 220 stores are in the Tidewater area; while 60 are located in greater Richmond area, and the remaining can be found throughout central and southeast Virginia.

    "7-Eleven provides a proven business opportunity for people around the world, and one that is attainable," said 7-Eleven president and CEO Joe DePinto. "As the company focuses on moving more decision-making to the stores, our franchise model gives both the local business owner and our company the opportunity for the greatest success. Franchisees truly have a vested interest in knowing their customers and communities. We believe they are in the best position to understand and respond to their local retail needs, which in turn, builds customer loyalty and sales."

    One year ago, a 7-Eleven store lead by Lynn Chhay in Burtonsville, Md., became the 200th local franchise location in the Mid Atlantic area. Meanwhile, Ron Boyles, a 20-year 7-Eleven employee and a former store manager, became a franchisee in Northern Virginia and is currently looking to expand to other locations.

    "I participated in 7-Eleven's company manager training program, so I appreciate the in-depth process everyone goes through to become a franchise owner," Boyles said in a written statement. "As franchisees, we are encouraged to maintain strong connections to the local community, and we actively support surrounding churches and the nearby daycare center. I'm looking forward to become even more involved."

    The company began its franchise conversion program in 2002 through the franchising of 130 company-operated stores in Maryland. In 2005, the company initiated a conversion for stores in Utah and Colorado. Currently, 188 stores in Texas are available for franchising as well.

    As part of the agreement, 7-Eleven leases the land, building, equipment and turn-key operations for its franchisees. The upfront, total investment for a 7-Eleven franchise in Virginia averages between $70,000 and $250,000, depending on the location's gross profits, the company stated. Start-up costs include the store's opening inventory, supplies, business licenses, permits, bonds, cash register fund and franchise fee.

    In the next few months, 7-Eleven will hold open houses for franchise information in the Virginia region to explain the franchise system and business model. For more information on a franchise opportunity, call (800) 255-0711.

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