LAS VEGAS -- Amid controversy and dueling lawsuits, 7-Eleven Inc. held its annual trade show and event, the 7-Eleven Experience, in Las Vegas in mid-February. 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto and fellow executives, COO Chris Tanco and chief digital officer and CIO Gurmeet Singh, shared the convenience-store retailer’s strategy to meet customers’ rapidly changing needs. The theme was “It Can Be Done.”
Along with more than 280 vendor partners, the executives offered franchisees more than 850 prebook opportunities, from limited-edition Slurpee drinks to new fresh-food offerings planned for 2018, the company said. Experts from the 7-Eleven Store Support Center answered franchisees’ questions on topics such as improving store safety, digital enhancements, merchandising best practices and simplifying store operations.
This year, 7-Eleven hosted UFC fighters Gina Mazany and Joseph Benavidez, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott, drag racer Jim Campbell (with his 7-Eleven funny car), Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, U.S. Woman’s Soccer Team member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Carli Lloyd and bassist and co-lead singer of rock band Kiss Gene Simmons. Additionally, 7-Eleven secured a two-hour performance with two-time Oscar and Grammy winner A. R. Rahman.
At the end of each 7-Eleven Experience, 7-Eleven gives back to the Las Vegas community by donating extra food from the event to Three Square to help hungry families. This year, the company gave 62,412 pounds of food to those in need, about 6,000 more pounds than last year.
More than 7,800 attendees came to the event, which the company said exceeded last year’s attendance; however, the presidents of all 43 7-Eleven franchise owners associations, which represent the interests of nearly 7,000 franchised U.S. convenience-store locations, voted not to attend.
The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees (NCASEF) spearheaded the boycott, and the group filed a lawsuit in October in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California claiming that the franchisor has not fulfilled its promise of treating franchisees as independent contractors and business owners, alleging increasing management control by 7-Eleven Inc.
Meanwhile, 7-Eleven Inc. filed a lawsuit Feb. 16 against NCASEF, alleging “trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition and unjust enrichment under the [federal] Trademark Act and for unfair competition, dilution, unjust enrichment and breach of contract under the laws of the state of Texas,” according to court documents.
Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises or licenses in more than 63,000 stores in 18 countries, including 10,900 in North America. It ranked No. 1 in CSP's 2017 Top 202 list of the largest c-store chains in the United States.