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MILWAUKEE -- 7-Eleven Inc. is readying a deal to make its return to the Wisconsin market.
The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel is reporting that the Dallas-based convenience store giant is in talks to acquire some of Open Pantry's locations. Despite having nearly 7,000 stores, 7-Eleven does not have any in Wisconsin.
The company has applied for licenses for Open Pantry locations in the Milwaukee area, and a spokeswoman confirmed to the news outlet on Wednesday that a deal is being negotiated. "We are working with Open Pantry on an acquisition," 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris said. "It's not going to close until next month."
Chabris noted that 7-Eleven plans to buy "the majority" of the Open Pantry stores, but not all of them. Robert A. Buhler, CEO of Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin Inc., wasn't available for comment Wednesday, according to the news report. His company, founded by his father in 1966, has about 25 stores, almost all of them in Wisconsin.
Chabris told the news outlet that 7-Eleven initially would run the acquired locations as corporate stores, but probably would seek to franchise them in the future.
"We have been on an accelerated growth pattern for at least the past three years," Chabris said. "...Rent and purchase prices are more favorable than they were before 2007. We have a strong balance sheet. We're an investment-grade tenant."
In 1996, 7-Eleven opened about 15 stores in southeastern Wisconsin, but left the market about 10 years ago, the report stated.