7-Eleven Tightening Up Texas With C.L. Thomas Deal

Retailer set to buy major distributor's c-store network in Lone Star State

Carole Donoghue, Petroleum Editor

DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. is about to make another major convenience store purchase, further solidifying its hold on markets in Texas, CSP Daily News has learned. The company has been in lengthy negotiations with large distributor C.L. Thomas Inc., and is expected to acquire many of the jobber's sites, according to dealer sources.

How many stores 7-Eleven will take over is not clear, but the Victoria, Texas-based distributor is one of the largest-volume marketers in the Lone Star State.

Dallas-based 7-Eleven would neither confirm nor deny that a deal is in the works, and would not offer any comment.

As reported Monday in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash, C. L. Thomas Inc. and its subsidiaries operate about 160 Speedy Stop Food Stores, most of which are expected to be sold to 7-Eleven. The company also has a substantial dealer business, sources say.

Last year, C.L. Thomas Inc. purchased Exxon's c-stores in Austin and San Antonio, which are believed to be part of the package that 7-Eleven will pick up. C.L. Thomas has been involved in talks with 7-Eleven for a year or more, dealers believe.

"All I know is that they're one of the biggest jobbers in Texas, and that we've been told by the company that 7-Eleven may take over our contracts," said one dealer who asked not to be named.

C.L. Thomas was founded in 1983 by Cliff L. Thomas Jr., a former high school coach. After a three-year stint as a general manager of an Exxon jobber in Hope, Ark., Thomas acquired an Exxon distributorship in Port Lavaca, Texas, establishing Thomas Petroleum in 1980.

After serving as the company's sole dispatcher, truck driver and salesman, in 1983 Thomas acquired a second distributorship in Victoria, and created the Speedy Stop brand.

From a handful of locations, Speedy Stop chain has expanded into Beaumont, the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Corpus Christi and Southwest Houston areas. It bought more than 40 Exxon stores in the Austin and Bryan-College Station markets in 2002, and in December 2011, completed its largest acquisition to date--the purchase of 61 Exxon Tigermarket stores in the Austin and San Antonio Markets.

Speedy Stop and Thomas Petroleum are now ranked among the top five distributors for Exxon gas and Chevron lubes. The company also flies Texaco and Shell flags.

In addition to the 160 Speedy Stop locations, Thomas Petroleum has 32 facilities in Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Utah, Idaho, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Dakota. In 1996, Thomas he started a check-cashing operation and now has 17 Speedy Check outlets, with 17 Subway franchises and two Wendy's Restaurants.

Based in Dallas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses approximately 9,400 7-Eleven stores in North America. Globally, there are some 47,600 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries. During 2011, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales close to $76.6 billion.