Last updated on August 16th, 2012 at 09:53 am
7-Eleven Inc., the convenience store chain that serves up Slurpees and the super-sized Big Gulp sodas, is working to acquire most of the Open Pantry chain.
Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel reports that the purchase would again give 7-Eleven a foothold in Wisconsin. The Dallas-based chain has 6,800 stores across the United States, but none in Wisconsin.
Now, however, 7-Eleven has applied for licenses for Open Pantry locations in the Milwaukee area, and a spokeswoman confirmed to the Sentinel earlier this week that a deal is being negotiated.
“We are working with Open Pantry on an acquisition,” 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris said. “It’s not going to close until next month.”
Chabris said 7-Eleven plans to buy “the majority” of the Open Pantry stores, but not all of them.
Robert A. Buhler, CEO of Open Pantry Food Marts of Wisconsin Inc., wasn’t available for comment to the Sentinel. His company, founded by his father in 1966, has about 25 stores, nearly all of them in Wisconsin. The firm’s headquarters are in Pleasant Prairie. Wis.
Chabris said 7-Eleven initially would run the former Open Pantry stores as corporate properties but probably would seek to franchise them in the future.
The privately held company added about 600 stores in the U.S. and Canada last year, and is looking to add more.
“We have been on an accelerated growth pattern for at least the past three years,” Chabris said.
“Rent and purchase prices are more favorable than they were before 2007. We have a strong balance sheet. We’re an investment-grade tenant,” she added.
In 1996, 7-Eleven opened about 15 stores in southeastern Wisconsin but left the market about 10 years ago.
7-Eleven is the largest convenience store chain, with 46,300 locations.