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DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. is on track to have a record growth year with plans on the drawing board to add more units than it did in 2011 -- a number that came in at 4,600 stores worldwide.
Approximately 600 additional stores were built, acquired or transitioned from another business to the 7-Eleven banner in the United States and Canada alone in 2011. The convenience store retailer plans to surpass that stat by adding at least 630 news stores to its portfolios in those two countries by the end of the year.
Since 2003, 7-Eleven has almost doubled its global store count, going from 25,000 to more than 46,000. Today, a new 7-Eleven store opens somewhere in the world approximately every two hours, according to a company release.
"7-Eleven's U.S. growth strategy includes building greater market presence and adding quality locations in metropolitan areas where the company already has stores as a means to increase efficiencies and leverage the company's scale and daily-delivery infrastructure," explained President and CEO Joe DePinto. "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."
The retailer's growth has not gone unnoticed. It took the top spot on Convenience Store News' list of the Top 20 Growth Chains in the c-store industry.
"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," added 7-Eleven Real Estate Vice President Dan Porter.
Approximately 56 percent of 7-Eleven's growth in the United States last year came from acquisitions that increased store density in New York, Florida, Illinois, Colorado and the Northwest. The most significant 2011 purchase was Wilson Farms Inc., a Buffalo, N.Y.-based convenience store chain with 188 stores in New York state.
7-Eleven is re-entering two markets -- Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. -- where it previously had operated stores until the 1980s. The company also has announced plans to double its 20-store presence in Manhattan in the next year and grow to about 135 units by 2017.
On the acquisition side, 7-Eleven has acquired 55 locations from Sam's Mart in the Carolinas and 51 from ExxonMobil in North Texas to date in 2012. More acquisitions are expected to be announced in the coming months. And as CSNews Online reported last week, the company is in talks to acquire some of Open Pantry locations in the MIlwaukee area.
"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 [United States], based on new store openings."