Dallas-based 7-Eleven plans to open 50 stores a year in the Baltimore-Washington area over the next three years, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The move is part of the company’s aggressive expansion strategy in some of its best-performing markets, where it has a large concentration of stores that are doing well, said company spokeswoman Margaret Chabris. The top 10 markets for 7-Eleven include Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego and the Baltimore-Washington area.
Currently, there are 540 stores in the Baltimore/Washington area.
“Where we have more stores, they don’t cannibalize each other,” Chabris said. “They often reinforce the brand. People get more familiar with 7-Eleven as a product. As we put in more stores, typically sales increase for all the stores in the area.”
Analysts agree the current economy is a good time to expand. Real estate costs are lower than they have been in years, there are ample locations to choose from and retailers can negotiate favorable deals with landlords who are desperate for tenants as other retailers close stores.
“We see an opportunity for us in this down economy. … Landlords want a nationally credit-rated tenant like us to be in their locations because they know we’re going to pay our bills,” Chabris said.
7-Eleven hired retail brokerage firm KLNB Retail to help it locate sites in the region.
“There is absolutely a market for this expansion,” said Keith Barnett, a principal with KLNB and part of a seven-member team the brokerage has created to work with the retailer. Because not all 7-Eleven stores sell gas it has the ability to open some locations in more urban areas where national c-store chains don’t always move, he noted.
The retailer will also use a business conversion strategy, turning owners of independent convenience stores and other small businesses into 7-Eleven franchise owners. Under that plan, the business owner would pay a franchise fee and share the profits with the 7-Eleven corporation, Chabris said.