BOSTON-7-Eleven wants to greatly increase the number of its stores here and is willing to change its traditional format to do that. The Dallas-based convenience store chain–the world’s largest–has developed an urban-format strategy that involves smaller stores and daily deliveries that it hopes will allow it to more effectively enter urban areas.

A spokesperson for 7-Eleven tells that Boston is one of four markets–the others are New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles–where the retailer is looking to expand. She notes that the urban-store format involves sites that range from 1,500 sf to 2,000 sf rather than the standard 2,500 sf to 3,000 sf. The smaller format will allow the stores to fit into existing structures in the city.

Recently, the company opened a store on Washington Street in the South End in a former bank branch. “In suburbia we have freestanding stores but with the dense concentration of buildings in the city we look at what ever will work,” says the spokesperson.

A system of daily deliveries will support the smaller footprint by providing fresh foods and obviating the need for as much space to accommodate products. “We saw that we can be successful in a smaller footprint,” the spokesperson adds.

7-Eleven currently has 18 stores in the city. Locally published reports indicate that company plans to increase that number to 41 over the next three years. “We’ve been underrepresented in Boston,” the spokesperson says, noting that Denver has 63 7-Elevens and Phoenix has 36.

A few years ago, 7-Eleven acquired 100 stores from Christie’s, a locally based convenience store chain. While the stores helped 7-Eleven get a foothold in the area market, they are spread throughout New Hampshire, Maine, greater Boston and Cape Cod. “Our strategy now is to have market concentration,” the spokesperson says. “It leverages our marketing and distribution costs and helps us keep prices competitive.”

The Boston area stores are franchised, but 7-Eleven maintains responsibility for securing the property, the building and equipment. Stores are typically leased although the company sometimes purchases the building or would do a sale/leaseback deal.

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