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    7-Eleven Takes Manhattan

    Company continues push in urban markets, celebrates Slurpee anniversary, reports sales increase for May.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. will open its first store in Manhattan next month after exiting the market in the early 1980s, reported the New York Post. The new store will be located in the borough's Gramercy Park section and is part of the convenience retailer's expansion push in urban markets, including Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles.

    A second New York store is slated for Manhattan's Upper East Side, and several more leases have been signed, said Steven Schwartz, co-chairman of Retail Realty in Manhattan, the chain's exclusive area broker.

    The Dallas-based company, which has approximately 5,800 stores in the United States, plans to release more information about its expansion blueprint closer to the grand opening of the New York store on July 11. The opening will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Slurpee ice drink, which the chain will be giving away for free that day. (See below for more on the Slurpee anniversary.)

    Like all 7-Elevens, the Manhattan stores will be open 24 hours, sell coffee, cigarettes and magazines, and feature the retailer's new fresh-food products, trucked in from a commissary on Long Island two times a day.

    "This is not your father's 7-Eleven," Schwartz said.

    There will be wood touches in the decor, hanging lamps, and trendy food such as wrap sandwiches and flavored cappuccino.

    This is the chain's second attempt to make a comeback in the tough Manhattan market. In 2002, a high-profile deal to open a snazzy flagship store at One Times Square -- where the New Year's ball drops -- fell apart.

    Slurpee Celebration
    In other 7-Eleven news, the company launched a month-long celebration of Slurpee's 40th birthday on July 11. For the anniversary, 7-Eleven will introduce retro Slurpee cups and flavors in participating 7-Eleven stores nationwide, air original Slurpee radio spots from the 1960s and offer prizes and promotions as part of the Slurpee Summer Prize Fest, including free music downloads and the chance to win one of four MINI Cooper convertibles.

    "A lot has changed since 1965, but not Slurpee. It's the ultimate retro drink, still cool even after 40 years," said Kevin Cooper, 7-Eleven category manager for Slurpee and fountain. "That's why we decided to have some fun this summer with some of the crazy '60s Slurpee flavors like Blue Blunder Berry and Gully Washer."

    "Slurpee is truly an iconic American brand," said Wendy Liebmann, founder and president, WSL Strategic Retail. "Slurpee was one of the defining icons of American pop culture in the 1960s. Forty years later, it still resonates with a broad base of consumers who see it as their big chilly drink of choice."

    Starting June 13, 7-Eleven customers can slurp Blue Blunder Berry in June and Gully Washer during July, two retro flavors developed by The Coca-Cola Co. Four color-changing Slurpee mugs feature graphics representing the decades of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Tinted bright blue, yellow, orange or green, the 38-ounce refillable mugs change colors when a cold Slurpee hits the mug, designed to fit any car cup holder. Retailing for $2.49, the price includes the mug, one Slurpee fill-up and free Wonka candy.

    Throughout June and July, 7-Eleven is giving away one free music download on all standard Slurpee cups. Last but not least, 7-Eleven is giving away four grand prize MINI Cooper convertibles, one for each decade of the Slurpee's 40 years of popularity and each painted a bright Slurpee color.

    "We decided to celebrate Slurpee's birthday by giving our customers a gift -- Slurpees, music and convertibles seemed like a natural fit," said Cooper. "Slurpee lovers can collect both music and cups during the celebration, and if they're really lucky, they might win a car!"

    May Sales Increase

    7-Eleven also reported May 2005 sales results, with total May 2005 sales of $1.14 billion, an increase of 5.5 percent over May 2004 sales of $1.09 billion. Total merchandise sales for May 2005 were $730.5 million, an increase of 4.6 percent over the May 2004 total of $698.6 million. U.S. same-store merchandise sales for May 2005 increased 3.4 percent, on top of a 7.8 percent increase in May 2004.

    Gasoline sales for May 2005 were $414.9 million, a 7.1 percent increase compared to $387.4 million in the prior-year period. Average gallons sold per store decreased 2.1 percent in May 2005 compared to an increase of 5.7 percent in May 2004. The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline for May 2005 was $2.20, compared to $2.00 in May 2004.

    For the year to date, U.S. same-store merchandise sales through May 2005 grew 4.6 percent, on top of 6.9 percent for 2004. Merchandise sales totaled $3.29 billion, an increase of 4.9 percent over the same period in 2004.

    Gasoline sales totaled $1.91 billion, an increase of 15.2 percent, while average gallons sold per store increased 0.1 percent, on top of 7.2 percent for 2004. The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline for the period was $2.08, compared to $1.79 in 2004.

    When determining the same-store merchandise sales calculation, the company includes the merchandise sales of both its U.S. company-owned and franchise-operated stores if they were operating for all days of the periods being compared. New stores, relocated stores or rebuilt stores are not included in the same-store sales calculation until they have recorded merchandise sales for all days of the periods being compared.

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