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    7-Eleven's Japanese Parent to Invest in 1,000 New U.S. Stores

    Seven & I Holdings to support U.S. with $2.4 billion for new locations over the next four years.

    TOKYO -- Parent company to the U.S. 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores, Seven & I Holdings, based here, will invest approximately 300 billion yen ($2.4 billion U.S.) in the next four years to open 1,000 convenience stores in the U.S. and revamp 6,050 existing outlets there, The Nikkei, a daily Japanese newspaper, reported.

    The Japanese company, which turned the U.S. chain into a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2005, has not been vigorously investing in its U.S. stores since it purchased them, as it was focused on improving the unit's internal organization and systems, a Tokyo-based spokesman told Reuters.

    Under the new expansion plan, which lasts through December 2010, Seven & I aims to lift product sales -- excluding gasoline -- by 15 percent from the 2006 level to 1.2 trillion yen, reported Nikkei

    In addition, U.S. 7-Eleven Inc. will add 175 stores and close 50 locations this fiscal year, ending in December. By the close of 2010, new stores will open in the Northeast -- including New York State -- California and Florida and large metro areas such as Chicago and Washington D.C.

    The plan is an attempt to boost its presence in the U.S., where competition is expected to intensify with the entry of new players such as Britain's Tesco, Reuters reported.

    It is unknown if the new stores will be corporate-owned of franchised. The U.S. company has been offering franchise agreements to current store owners and the public in several regions -- including Washington D.C., Baltimore, Richmond, Va., Utah, Colorado and Texas -- to convert them from company-operated to franchises. A 7-Eleven Inc. spokesman declined to comment on the expansion.

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