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A New Global 7-Eleven Emerges on the International Stage

Retailer forms new company, names co-CEOs to support growth as parent company faces more investor pressure
Photograph: Shutterstock

IRVING, Texas — 7-Eleven Inc. and Seven-Eleven Japan recently formed a new globally focused company, 7-Eleven International LLC (7IN). By combining the strengths that joint owners cultivated in their local markets into the new entity, 7IN will be able to better leverage 7-Eleven’s product development capabilities, digital technology and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives while maintaining its position as a global brand, the company said.

Along with this change, the company is revitalizing its leadership team in support of international growth and enhancement of the 7-Eleven brand worldwide, it said. Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Inc., Chris Tanco, executive vice president and COO, and Stan Reynolds, executive vice president and CFO, will serve on the 7IN board with Ken Wakabayashi (pictured), previously 7-Eleven Inc.’s senior vice president and head of international. The company has named Wakabayashi co-CEO of 7IN along with Shinji Abe of Seven-Eleven Japan.

ken wakabayashi

“With this move, Ken will help lead the 7IN team to further our global growth strategy and provide world-class value and support to our international licensees and master franchisees,” said DePinto.

As co-CEOs of 7IN, Wakabayashi and Abe will be responsible for all operations outside North America and Japan as well as for overseeing the 7–Eleven trademark globally. This team will further enhance support to existing licensees and master franchisees and focus on expanding the 7-Eleven brand into new territories.

“This change reinforces 7-Eleven Inc.’s and Seven-Eleven Japan’s commitment to the growth of the 7–Eleven brand and to providing value and support to our licensee and master franchisee organizations,” said Wakabayashi. “We are well positioned for growth and long-term value creation as we focus on expanding the brand into new territories and provide an enhanced support structure for our existing territories.”

In January, Irving, Texas-based 7 Eleven Inc. reached a major global milestone: 77,711 7‑Eleven stores worldwide.

7-Eleven’s Global Presence

  • United States (9,367 stores*)
  • Canada (642)
  • Mexico (1,800)
  • Norway (132)
  • Sweden (187)
  • Denmark (183)
  • United Arab Emirates (14)
  • China (1,653)
  • Taiwan (5,248)
  • Singapore (372)
  • South Korea (9,300)
  • Malaysia (2,235)
  • Australia (678)
  • Japan (20,337)
  • Hong Kong (937)
  • Philippines (2,375)
  • Macau (47)
  • Viet Nam (14)
  • Thailand (10,533)

*7-Eleven is No. 1 on CSP’s 2021 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count, with 9,519 7-Eleven-branded stores as of Jan. 1, 2021; excludes Speedway.

Source: 7-Eleven

In October 2021, 7-Eleven Inc. signed a master franchise agreement with Electra Consumer Products Ltd. to develop and operate 7–Eleven stores in Israel. The companies expect the first 7–Eleven stores in Israel to open in Tel Aviv in 2022.

Meanwhile, an activist investor with a sizable stake in Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., Tokyo., 7-Eleven Inc.’s parent company, is continuing to apply pressure in favor of breaking up the retail company to increase the value of its investment. ValueAct Capital, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, told investors in May 2021 that Seven & i could be worth more than double its current value if the company restructures itself to focus on convenience stores or if it spins off 7-Eleven.

In January 2022, ValueAct again has asked the Seven & i board to conduct a strategic review of alternatives for all of its business units, consisting of c-stores, supermarkets, department stores and specialty stores.

ValueAct said in a new letter to the board that Seven & i “is strategically unfocused and vastly underperforming its potential. This, while the retail industry is evolving rapidly with new disruptive forces entering Seven & i’s markets. The 7-Eleven convenience-store business already accounts for 97% of operating profit and over 100% of corporate value creation. … If Seven & i narrows its focus to 7- Eleven, it can become the global champion in a growing industry. If its attention remains scattered, it risks drifting into mediocrity or worse.”

Seven & i said it is having “active and constructive management-and working-level dialogues … with the aim of enhancing our corporate value in a sustainable manner,” is reviewing ValueAct’s proposal and will “respond appropriately.” And Seven & Seven & i is in final negotiations to sell its struggling department store unit, Sogo & Seibu, Nikkei is reporting.

7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises or licenses more than 77,700 stores in 19 countries and regions, including the United States under the 7-Eleven Speedway, and Stripes flags, as well as the Laredo Taco Company and Raise the Roost Chicken and Biscuits brands.

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