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DALLAS -- 7-Eleven's purchase last week of White Hen Pantry for $35 million is likely the first of several acquisitions the nation's largest c-store chain will make in the coming months as it seeks to grow its business.
Joseph DePinto, president and chief executive of 7-Eleven, outlined the company's new strategy to grow under a three-pronged approach: acquisitions, building new stores and inviting store operators to become 7-11 franchisees, according to The Dallas Morning News.
"There's a real opportunity to continue to grow our business through acquisitions," he told the Texas daily.
Last Thursday's acquisition of White Hen was 7-Eleven's largest acquisition in more than 20 years, and the first since the company was taken private last year by its Japanese-based owner. The deal doubled 7-Eleven's size in Chicago to more than 400 stores.
As a franchise operator of 206 stores in greater Chicago and licensor of 55 units in Boston, White Hen fits 7-Eleven's plan to grow its number of franchised and licensed stores. Its expertise in prepared foods, including take-home meals, is also something that will benefit 7-Eleven.
"We've respected them for a long time." DePinto told The Dallas Morning News. "They do a nice job in prepared fresh foods and meal replacement.
"As a franchise company, they also believe in the individual operator and have outstanding real estate," he added.
For the past few years, 7-Eleven has largely sat on the sidelines as competitors like Circle K parent, Alimentation Couche-Tarde, The Pantry and others have been buying up small chains in the U.S. In addition, competition in the western United States will heat up next year when Tesco, the United Kingdom's largest retailer, debuts its convenience store concept in California, Nevada and Phoenix.
However, to the Morning News, DePinto downplayed the foreign threat, calling Tesco a solid company but "It's got to learn our marketplace, and that will take some time."
"We're not worried about their entry," he added. "We have a significant concentration of West Coast stores and will open more stores.
White Hen stores will continue to operate for the near term as they have, DePinto stated.