7-Eleven Widens Lead


The CSNews Top 100 account for 40 percent of the industry's total stores, as "pure" c-store chains gain and Big Oil shrinks

7-Eleven Inc. continues to pull away from the pack as the U.S. convenience industry's largest chain by number of stores. In the past year, the Dallas-based division of Japanese c-store giant Seven & i Holdings Co. widened its store count lead over Big Oil companies Shell Oil Products US, BP plc and Chevron Corp., and even Canada-based c-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which operates the Circle K brand in the United States.

While the industry remains highly fragmented, the Convenience Store News Top 100 convenience store chains added approximately 2,600 net new stores in the past year, a 4.6-percent increase to 60,355 stores. All together, the Top 100 account for 40.7 percent of the convenience industry's 148,126 stores, according to Nielsen TDLinx, which supplies much of the store count data for the CSNews Top 100 list.

In general, "pure" convenience store companies such as 7-Eleven, Couche-Tard (Circle K), Casey's General Stores Inc., Cumberland Farms, RaceTrac Petroleum, Wawa Inc., QuikTrip Corp. and Susser Holdings Corp. (Stripes) got bigger, while Big Oil companies like BP and ExxonMobil Corp. lost ground in this year's c-store count.

As of March 2012, 7-Eleven operated a total of 7,341 c-stores, an increase of 9.1 percent over its count of 6,727 stores a year ago.

The rest of the top 10 include:

2. Shell/Motiva Enterprises: 4,934 stores, up from 4,831 a year ago.

3. BP: 4,691 stores, down from 4,718 a year ago.

4. Chevron: 4,057 stores, up from 3,987 a year ago.

5. Couche-Tard: 3,585 stores, up from 3,480 a year ago.

6. ExxonMobil: 3,445 stores, down from 3,882 a year ago.

7. Marathon Petroleum Corp./Speedway LLC: 2,670 stores, down from 2,809 a year ago.

8. Sunoco Inc.: 1,987 stores, up from 1,896 a year ago.

9. Valero Energy Corp.: 1,786 stores, up from 1,712 a year ago.

10. CITGO Petroleum Corp.: 1,722 stores, down from 1,776 a year ago.

Another continuing trend among the CSNews Top 100 is the continued shift from company-operated to franchisee/licensee-operated stores. Among the Top 100 retailers, the number of company-operated stores rose by 648 units, while the number of franchisees or licensees rose by 2,219 units.

Laval, Canada-based Couche-Tard continues to be the company with the largest number of company-operated c-stores in the United States, with 3,049 units. Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey's leapt over The Pantry Inc. to rank second on the list of top company-operated chains, with 1,691 stores.

The Pantry held on to the No. 3 spot among top company-operated chains with 1,614 company-operated stores, followed by Marathon (Speedway) at 1,372; Hess at 1,084; Valero at 1,000; Kroger Co. (various c-store brands) at 811; Cumberland Farms at 603; Wawa at 599; and QuikTrip rounding out the top 10 with 597 company-operated stores.

As in previous years, there has been a lot of acquisition, divestiture and expansion activity among the CSNews Top 100 over the past year.

Some of the major moves include:

  • In the late fall, 7-Eleven (No. 1) acquired 28 retail locations from Pacific Convenience & Fuels LLC. The stores in California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado were converted to the 7-Eleven brand. This year, the company intends to continue opening stores in New York City, with as many as 14 expected to go live in 2012. Beginning in 2013, the retailer plans to open 20 Manhattan locations each year until 2017.
  • Couche-Tard (No. 5) purchased 11 c-stores from Neighbors Stores Inc. in Mount Airy, N.C., and converted them to the Circle K banner. Earlier, Circle K had purchased 26 c-stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia from Chico Enterprises.
  • Speedway LLC, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum (No. 7) acquired 88 c-stores in Ohio and Indiana from GasAmerica Services Inc. Additionally, Marathon spun off 233 SuperAmerica units to Northern Tier Energy.
  • Casey's General Stores (No. 11) will be breaking ground soon on its first store in Kentucky and is expected to open another store in Tennessee by the end of the year. The new locations will mark the 12th and 13th states in which the Iowa chain operates.
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