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In an interview with the Dallas Business Journal, 7-Eleven CEO Jim Keyes offers his perspective on the strategies that the 24,000-store company will employ to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Keyes pronounces himself satisfied with 7-Eleven’s same-store sales increases because the company has been “nimble enough to change our products and services to meet the needs of consumers in a good or bad economy.”

Among his comments:

  • 7-Eleven plans to grow by exploiting its traditional business offerings, as well as new businesses that include fresh foods and expanded electronic services.

  • “We now have USDA-approved bakeries and commissaries that can produce anything we ask them to produce. So whatever our customers want to eat, whether it's a sandwich or steak dinner, we can produce that in our central kitchens and deliver it once, twice, even three times a day to 7-Eleven stores,” Keyes says. He notes that the company is putting a greater emphasis on grill items, bakery items, including a new line of doughnuts that he says is better than Krispy Kreme’s, and a sandwich and salad operation that includes sushi in select markets. Also included in Keyes’ sandwich plans -- a quest to make a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich that can be sold at 7-Eleven stores.

  • Among the financial services that 7-Eleven plans to offer are auto insurance, bill payment, and the company’s Vcom kiosks, which allow consumers to order everything from flowers to books and pick them up the next day at the store. “We have Vcoms in 350 stores already and will have them in 1,000 stores by the end of April. Based on performance, we will add another 2,500 stores after that,” Keyes says, noting that the kiosks are viewed as a “convenience enabler.”

7-Eleven plans to open 2,500 stores worldwide during the next year, according to Keyes, but most of those will be outside the United States; only about 100 new units will be opened domestically.
KC's View:
“Convenience enabler” is such a great term…and one that probably ought to be embraced by more retailers. Convenience means a lot of different things, not just gas pumps, beef jerky and slurpees…and clearly 7-Eleven is trying to redefine its meanings both internally and in the minds of consumers.

Seems to us that traditional supermarket retailers, squeezed from one direction by Wal-Mart and its ilk, ought to be almost as concerned about being pressured by aggressive c-store chains like 7-Eleven.

Talk about “convenience enablers”…isn’t that what the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets are doing with their new “Grab-n-Go” sections? (See lead story above.)