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    White Hen Transitioning to 7-Eleven in Chicago

    After acquisition, names are changing, but products inside may stay the same.

    CHICAGO -- White Hen Pantry stores here will be rebranded to 7-Eleven, as the company sets out to incorporate the estimated $35 million purchase it made last year, according to a report in The Business Ledger.

    Even though the White Hen banner will not be flying in Chicago, some of its most popular products may remain on the shelves in stores following a market analysis, the report stated.

    "For example, White Hen does a great coffee business, so 7-Eleven will be modifying its brand to meet Chicagoans' taste for a stronger brew," Margaret Chabris, public relations director for 7-Eleven, told the newspaper. "This change in 7-Eleven stores happened the week of Jan. 15."

    In its largest acquisition in 20 years, 7-Eleven, Inc. bought Lombard Ill.-based White Hen Pantry. The purchase made the Chicago market one of 7-Eleven's largest, and boosted the chain's total store count to more than 7,100 stores, the report stated.

    "Before the acquisition, the Chicago market ranked number eight in store number for 7-Eleven," Chabris said. "Because we doubled in store count as a result of the acquisition, Chicagoland is now our number four market."

    The goal for 7-Eleven was to develop the brand's name, and to do this, all the White Hen stores will be rebranded. The transition will be slow, on a store-by-store basis, to integrate personnel and introduce the brand in the market, Chabris told the paper. "There is not a date when all the stores will be converted. It is a slow, methodical process that can take up to several years."

    Operators in the area will have the option to keep the White Hen name until the franchise agreements run out, but some owners in the area are switching over, the report stated.

    "White Hen stores are franchised, and 7-Eleven is honoring those franchise agreements," said Chabris. "At the same time, we have offered White Hen franchisees the opportunity to apply for a 7-Eleven franchise, and some are doing that in advance of the expiration of their White Hen franchise agreement."

    However, some stores that are located close to existing 7-Elevens may be closed instead of rebranded, the report stated. This decision will be made based on store performance and whether both stores can maintain healthy sales.

    White Hen also operates and franchises 55 stores in the Boston area.

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