7-Eleven Luring Customers With Improved Food

DALLAS -- The economic downturn brought new diners into 7-Eleven stores looking to fill their bellies without emptying their wallets. Now with the economy on the mend, the Dallas-based convenience store chain is launching "signature" food items that it hopes will keep consumers hungry for more, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"During the economic downturn, we've found that by offering programs like two-for-$2 slices of pizza … and offering consumers price value on some really good food, it was an opportunity to attract some [new] customers," Paul Pierce, 7-Eleven's vice president of quick service and fresh food, said at the company's annual University of 7-Eleven event held this week at the Sheraton-Dallas. Roughly 2,000 7-Eleven franchisees, suppliers and executives were in attendance. ,p> 7-Eleven Inc. hopes to grow food sales by 10 percent this year -- more than double the typical 3 percent to 4 percent growth it's been posting, according to the report.,p> "We are looking at every food item that we sell today … from a muffin to our breakfast sandwiches to chicken wings to the burrito on the roller grill, every single item," Pierce told the newspaper. "That food needs to be better than what you expect in a convenience store. We want our food to be better than restaurant quality."

The 10-percent target is the most aggressive goal for 7-Eleven this year, he added.

"I would think most consumers still think of 7-Eleven not in terms of food," said Joe Hermes, senior director of fresh food at 7-Eleven, which last year sold its 100 millionth chicken wing. "But we're slowly changing that perception. What we're trying to do now is bring out new and innovative items … that the customer can't get anywhere else.",p> At the three-day University of 7-Eleven event, which began Monday, franchisees sampled the six new sauce flavors for chicken wings, which are 50 percent larger; a pretzel/croissant breakfast sandwich with egg and ham; and Angus beef hot dogs. The items are either being tested or are slated to roll out later this year, the report stated.


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