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DALLAS-Marking its 81st birthday over the weekend, 7-Eleven Inc.’s gift to itself is a growth plan to hit 300 stores in Dallas/Fort Worth by the end of 2009. The countdown is starting with 245 convenience stores carrying the locally based company’s brand.

“I am challenging the team to reach 300 stores by the end of 2009 and we will accomplish that through acquisitions, ground-up and franchise opportunities,” James Massey, 7-Eleven’s real estate manager, tells GlobeSt.com. “Acquisitions are a lot faster way to grow so we are keeping a sharp eye out for acquisitions.” The 20% growth goal is equal to another 45 stores in Dallas/Fort Worth.

The chain’s immediate plan has been seeded by a 27-store lease with Quik Way Retail Associates II LLC of Dallas at Shell-branded stations in the metroplex. Massey says the companies struck a 15-year lease with renewal options for the convenience stores, averaging 2,400 sf. The $10-million to $15-million initiative includes remodeling and re-branding the convenience stores. The weekend was marked by the grand re-opening of 15 stores, with the remaining dozen to be done by year’s end.

Massey says the 7-Eleven team is looking for similar “acquisitions” all across the country to grow the brand. Two years ago, 7-Eleven bought more than 200 White Hen stores in the Chicago area and has just two stores left to re-brand.

“We are no longer married to a particular brand of gas. We can be flexible on the gas brand so we can bring the 7-Eleven format to a number of different customers,” Massey says. “We are aggressively growing and we are looking at several ways to grow.” And, he confirms there are sites under review for ground-up construction in the metro.

The company also has started a business conversion program, which effectively is a franchise setup. It has separate agreement with Quik Way for another half dozen stores in Dallas/Fort Worth. The first shop under the program opened July 1 at the corner of the Dallas North Tollway and Park Boulevard in Plano.

In Fort Worth, 7-Eleven reopened stores at 1908 Yucca Ave., 7490 Oakmont Blvd., 2551 Meacham Blvd., 4600 SW Loop 820, 1401 Eastchase Pkwy., 6550 Forest Hill Dr. and 2026 Cherry Lane.

In Dallas, re-brandings debuted at Worth Avenue and 9235 John W. Carpenter Fwy. Other re-flagged stores were 6360 Davis Blvd. in North Richland Hills; 9600 N. Watson Rd. in Arlington; 1302 W. McDermott Dr. in Allen; 3985 FM 1382 in Grand Prairie; 2001 Wall St. in Grapevine; and 6925 Independence Pkwy. in Plano.

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