July 24, 2009

7 Eleven plans big expansion in So. Calif.

The world's largest store chain, 7 Eleven, plans to exploit the real estate meltdown by adding 600 stores in Southern California, the company said.

The seven-year plan would give the chain 1,300 outlets in Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The company once had 1,500 in the region but closed many of them down as gas stations began adding convenience stores.

The company, headquartered in Dallas, is owned by Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., based in Tokyo. The chain announced Thursday it had hired a commercial real estate broker, CB Richard Ellis, to look for locations to buy.

The company is betting on a consumer switch from eating at restaurants to picking up cheaper takeout food at convenience stores. Buying new store locations now is expected to save the company billions of dollars, the newspaper said.

However, some analysts say 7 Eleven is being too ambitious.

It is difficult to see that there is a screaming need for more convenience stores, said Richard Giss, a partner in Deloitte & Touche's consumer business division.