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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- 7-Eleven Inc. continues to pull away from the pack as the U.S. convenience industry's largest chain by number of stores. In the past year, the Dallas-based division of Japanese c-store giant Seven & i Holdings Co. widened its store count lead over Big Oil companies Shell Oil Products US, BP plc and Chevron Corp., and even Canada-based c-store giant, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which operates the Circle K brand in the United States.
While the industry remains highly fragmented, the Convenience Store News' Top 100 convenience store chains added approximately 1,700 net new stores in the past year, a 3-percent increase to 59,434 stores. All together, the Top 100 account for 40.1 percent of the convenience industry's 148,126 stores, according to Nielsen TDLinx, which supplies much of the store count data for the CSNews Top 100 list.
In general, "pure" convenience store companies such as 7-Eleven, Couche-Tard (Circle K), Casey's General Stores Inc., Cumberland Farms, RaceTrac Petroleum, Wawa Inc., QuikTrip Corp. and Susser Holdings Corp. (Stripes) got bigger, while Big Oil companies like BP and ExxonMobil Corp. lost ground in this year's Top 100 ranking.
As of March 2012, 7-Eleven operated a total of 7,341 c-stores, an increase of 9.1 percent over its count of 6,727 stores a year ago.
The rest of the Top 10 includes:
2. Shell/Motiva Enterprises: 4,934 stores, up from 4,831 a year ago.
3. BP: 4,691 stores, down from 4,718 a year ago.
4. Chevron: 4,057 stores, up from 3,987 a year ago.
5. Couche-Tard: 3,585 stores, up from 3,480 a year ago.
6. ExxonMobil: 3,445 stores, down from 3,882 a year ago.
7. Marathon Petroleum Corp. (Speedway LLC): 2,670 stores, down from 2,809 a year ago.
8. Sunoco Inc.: 1,987 stores, up from 1,896 a year ago.
9. Valero Energy Corp.: 1,786 stores, up from 1,712 a year ago.
10. CITGO Petroleum Corp.: 1,722 stores, down from 1,776 a year ago.
Another continuing trend among the CSNews Top 100 is the continued shift from company-operated to franchisee/licensee-operated stores. Among the Top 100 retailers, the number of company-operated stores rose by 656 units, while the number of franchisees or licensees rose by 1,290 units.
Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard continues to be the company with the largest number of company-operated c-stores in the United States, with 3,049 units. Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey's leapt over The Pantry Inc. to rank second on the list of top company-operated chains, with 1,691 stores.
For the full listing of Convenience Store News' Top 100 Convenience Stores, see the May 21 issue of CSNews.