Convenience Store Decisions has named 7-Eleven Inc. (Dallas, TX) its2005 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. The award recognizes convenienceretailingexcellence in marketing and merchandising, operating efficiency and severalother key areas, and is based in part on feedback from industry professionals.
“We are especially honored to receive this recognition from our peers and competitors in the convenience arena,” says Jim Keyes, 7-Eleven’s president and CEO. “They understand, better than anyone, the daily challenges we face. We are constantly trying to deliver more convenience for customers and improve the operating performance of the company.”
The Convenience Store Decisions Group will present the award to Mr. Keyes and the 7-Eleven executive team at its annual Chain of the Year Dinner, which will be held during the NACS Show in Las Vegas. Also, CSD will devote its December issue to 7-Eleven.
“In many ways, 7-Eleven is the ‘face’ of the convenience store industry,” says CSD Editorial Director Jay Gordon. “It’s the only brand many people think of when they hear the term ‘convenience store.’ The 7-Eleven brand has become synonymous with convenience, to the point where it has become a cultural icon. This award recognizes that status, as well as the innovations in product and brand development, distribution and technology that have made it possible.”
Proprietary products like the Slurpee® which turned 40 this yearand the Big Gulp® have positioned 7-Eleven stores as “destinations,” or retail locations where consumers shop to purchase items not available anywhere else. Working closely with key vendor partners to strengthen these icon brands while developing new ones has elevated 7-Eleven to a status shared by the industry’s most innovative companies.
New items and services the company has introduced in the past year include Big Eats® Wrap sandwiches, low-cost wireless handsets as an extension of its Speak Out Wireless program, Stir Crazy soft-serve ice cream and refund anticipation loan-check services through its Vcom® kiosks, among others. Such innovative additions are supported by a distribution system that enables daily deliveries to 7-Eleven stores. Because stores can order just the amount they sell in a day or two, they always have the freshest products available to the customer.
7-Eleven’s “freshness first” strategy has enabled the company to deliver 35 consecutive quarters of increased U.S. same-store merchandise sales, driven by an increasingly robust foodservice offer. In the past year, for example, the company has expanded its Big Eats Deli program to include several new wraps, sandwiches and roller grill items. 7-Eleven, which was the first to sell fresh-brewed coffee in to-go cups, also continues to add to its hot beverage offerings.
Recent additions to its coffee offer include a host of new flavored hot beverages, sugarfree syrups, no-spill coffee lids and other innovations that provide customers with more than 1,300 ways to create their own “perfect” hot beverage.
“In this business, freshness means everything, whether it’s milk and eggs or coffee and tobacco,” says CSD Editor Bill Donahue. “Thanks to 7-Eleven’s culture of innovation with daily-delivery capability and a focus on freshness, the company has been able to consistently grow sales and provide stores and employees with a support system that keeps the customer first.”
CSD launched the Chain of the Year Award in 1990 to recognize well-run, profitable companies that were building successful retail operations by understanding the changing needs of consumers and developing strategies to deliver the products and services to meet those needs.
Past winners of the award include Wawa (1990), QuikTrip (1992), Sheetz (1994),Huck’s (2001) and Petro-Canada (2002). 7-Eleven inherits the award from lastyear’s winner, Kwik Trip Inc. of LaCrosse, WI.