7-Eleven Owner May More Than Triple The Number of North American Stores

There are about 8,000 7-Elevens in North America today, a number that could hit 30,000, according to Toshifumi Suzuki, chairman of the company that operated the largest convenience store chain, called Seven & I Holdings Co.

Seven & I, the world's biggest convenience store operator by number of outlets, has been buying small chain stores in the U.S. as it tries to strengthen the competitiveness of the local unit. Strength in consumer spending and business investment is helping the U.S. economy overcome government cutbacks, underlining forecasts for a growth pickup later in the year, Bloomberg reported.

"There will be a huge potential in expansion in large cities in the U.S.," said Dairo Murata, analyst at JPMorgan Securities JapanCo. "There are over 50,000 convenience stores in Japan with 120 million people. Considering the U.S. population is about 300 million, there is an unlimited potential."

The company bought 662 convenience stores in North America in its last fiscal year, according to spokesperson Nobuyuki Miyaji.

"We will raise the quality of operations, and we will go into the areas where we don't have outlets," Suzuki said. The company will continue to make acquisitions in the U.S., the 80-year-old executive said, without elaborating.

As convenience chains expand their product offerings—especially in prepared food—such a sharp expansion in North America could have a major impact on many other retailers.

For more:

- See the Bloomberg story

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