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    7-Eleven Hits Growth Spurt

    Largest U.S. convenience chain doubled its expansion pace in the past year.
     

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. will open about 650 U.S. stores this year, more than double the number of new stores it opened in 2010, according to a published report.

    The Dallas-based company saw an increase in acquisition opportunities, while also having organic store growth, Sean Duffy, senior vice president of development, told the Dallas Business Journal.

    "We had opportunities with the ExxonMobil stores that were for sale and lot of the older companies selling their assets," Duffy said.

    In August, 7-Eleven acquired 51 north Texas ExxonMobil On the Run stores. Duffy said those stores will be converted in January. The company also acquired 183 ExxonMobil stores in Florida and 188 Wilson Farms locations in June.

    CSNews Online reported last month that retailer had finished converting the first seven Wilson Farms stores to the 7-Eleven brand, part of its multimillion-dollar investment in western New York State, according to Mark Senay, 7-Eleven's operations director.

    The remaining Wilson Farms stores are expected to be converted in 2012.

    According to the 2011 Convenience Store News Top 100 report, 7-Eleven was the fastest-growing convenience store chain in the United States during the one-year period that ended April 30, 2011. The company added 204 net new stores during that period, edging out Shell Oil (195 net new units), Casey's General Stores (95 units), and Sunoco (85 units), according to Nielsen TDLinx store count data.

    7-Eleven's expansion goals include Canada, as well. CSNews Online also reported last month that the retailer plans to open up to 200 new stores in Ontario from 2012 to 2016, with the bulk of this growth focused on the Toronto area.

    "What is driving our growth plan is we believe we are incredibly under-stored in a vibrant area of Canada," Ken Barnes, regional development director for 7-Eleven, said at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference. "There are a lot of people here and not nearly enough 7-Elevens."

    The expansion would significantly boost 7-Eleven's presence in Toronto. It currently operates 467 locations in Canada.

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