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Franchisees to Boycott Annual 7-Eleven Trade Show

'National coalition is clearly out of touch,' retailer says

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- The presidents of all 43 7-Eleven franchise owners associations, which represent the interests of nearly 7,000 franchised U.S. convenience-store locations, have voted unanimously not to attend 7-Eleven’s annual convention and trade show in 2018.

The boycott of the 7-Eleven Experience convention, announced in a press release issued Nov. 9 by the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees (NCASEF), is intended to send a message related to a lawsuit filed in October against the retailer.

In the lawsuit filed on Oct. 12, members of NCASEF, an independent organization that represents the individual franchisee associations, alleged that franchisor 7-Eleven Inc. (SEI) has been “chipping away at their profits, increasing their costs and exercising more control over what is supposed to be an independent operation.” The plaintiffs claim that the franchisor has not fulfilled its promise of treating franchisees as independent contractors and business owners.

The franchisees held the vote during a recent NCASEF board meeting.

“Our FOA representatives spoke loud and clear and the coalition listened. They voted to urge members [to] stay away from the 7-Eleven Experience and now the coalition wants to deliver that message to all,” said Rehan Hashmi, vice chairman of NCASEF. “The relationship between SEI and its franchisees is no longer evenhanded and that is hurting our members and their livelihood.”

According to Hashmi, 7-Eleven Inc. closed its regular channels of communication after franchisees in California filed the federal lawsuit.

“If SEI truly wants to recognize and celebrate its franchisees as the marketers of the 7-Eleven Experience claim, it shouldn’t cut off communications. Franchise owners have invested their lives in this brand and we want to prosper, but we can’t if our relationship with SEI remains one-sided,” he said.

“The national coalition is clearly out of touch with the quality and volume of communications between 7-Eleven and franchisees," Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. said in a Nov. 9 response to NCASEF’s allegations. "The reality is that 7-Eleven postponed two meetings in October involving less than 80 of the over 4,600 franchisees.

"7-Eleven’s unique communications process includes weekly in-store meetings between franchisees and their field consultants, local employees of 7-Eleven Inc. 7-Eleven has a long history of consistent and transparent communications with franchisees. In fact, 7-Eleven has spent nearly $1 million developing a best-in-class app built for franchisees which allows them to easily access communications at their convenience. The 7-Eleven Stores App launched earlier this year and has already been adopted by over 60% of franchisees."

Commenting on Santa Cruz, Calif.-based NCASEF’s vote to boycott the event, 7-Eleven Inc. said, "Over the past three years, the 7-Eleven Experience has cost 7-Eleven $4 million. We continue to make this investment because franchisees have told us that this event helps them grow their businesses. We value the time that we spend with franchisees at the 7-Eleven Experience so it is our hope that all 7-Eleven Franchisees will choose to attend the 7-Eleven Experience."

The event is scheduled for Feb. 14-15, 2018, in Las Vegas.

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