7-Eleven to Expand Foodservice

Hot-food test to grow by 800 stores a year beginning in 2009
DALLAS -- Japanese retailer Seven & i Holdings Co. plans to boost the number of its 7-Eleven convenience stores in North America that sell foods cooked in store.

The Dallas-based 7-Eleven chain will increase the number of stores offering in-store cooked foods to about 700 by the end of this year as trial services led to higher revenue at about 100 outlets available at present, according to a report from the Jiji Press.

Our pilot program in southeast Virginia has been going well, and we do plan to expand it starting later this year and into 2009, a 7-Eleven spokesperson [image-nocss] told CSP Daily News.

In 2009 and later, the number of shops that offer the service will increase by 800 per year so that the chain will eventually make the service available at all its 6,200 shops in the region.

In March, when the pilot program began, select 7-Eleven stores began offering a new menu of hot foods, including pepperoni pizza, chicken wings, chicken tenders, Jamaican beef patties and cinnamon churros. Prices range from 49 cents for a chicken wing to $9.99 for a whole pepperoni pizza.

We know our customers want food that is fast, fresh, portable and available 24 hours a day, Phil Oftedahl, 7-Eleven fresh foods manager for 7-Eleven's 1,000-store Chesapeake Division, said at the time. 7-Eleven now has a system that can deliver it hot and fresh, day or night.

To expand its menu of hot fresh foods, 7-Eleven made an investment in the latest cooking technology and installed high-speed TurboChef Ovens in stores participating in the rollout. This rapid-cook oven combines radiant heat, microwave and airspeed technology to deliver a traditional baked product 12 times faster than a conventional oven. For instance, a whole pizza cooks in 90 seconds and a plate of chicken wings in three minutes.

Consumers will be surprised that it cooks the food so fast and gives us a product that is hot and of the highest quality, Oftedahl said in March. This is not just reheating a product in a microwave but, instead, actually cooking a product that will turn out hot, moist and toasted or crisped.

In test stores, the food products helped double average daily sales of foods with short best-before dates, including dairy products and bread, according to the Jiji Press report.

Such foods account for slightly more than 10% of overall sales at 7-Eleven Inc. stores. The Japanese parent hopes to raise the proportion to top 40%, a level seen in the Japanese Seven-Eleven chain, an executive told Jiji Press.

U.S. convenience stores have yet to fully cultivate demand for hot meals as they focus on chilled foods, Jiji reported.

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