Convenience Store Chain Sees Opportunity to Expand

October 22, 2009
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7-Eleven, the convenience store chain that already seems to have stores everywhere, is taking advantage of the weak commercial real estate market to carry out a major expansion plan. The impetus for expansion is the company’s newfound access to desirable retail space that was offered to it previously, or was too expensive to lease before rents dropped this year.

According to Kenneth Barnes, manager of real estate for 7-Eleven’s Northeast division, this includes 15 newly available sites in the New York metropolitan area that the company has had its eyes on for years. The growth plan of 7-Eleven, officials said, also reflects relatively strong demand for its products.

7-Eleven’s growth strategy would add more than 200 new outlets this year, in addition to the 5,700 stores across the United States, which it now operates or franchises. California and the New York metropolitan area, where at least 44 stores will open this year, are the strongest regions for expansion.

For 7-Eleven, factors determining the suitability of sites include pedestrian or vehicular traffic, proximity to public transportation, and the existence of zoning laws that permit a 24-hour operation and the sale of beer and wine.

While the convenience store business is not recession-proof, it’s recession-resistant, and doing well, given the marketplace, says Mike Friedman, a senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis, a real estate services firm that is helping 7-Eleven identify potential store sites.