7-Eleven Inc. intends to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2027 with the opening of its 20,000th U.S. convenience store—but it might happen earlier. Even for the largest c-store chain in the United States, with store count at about 9,000 as of November 2019, that’s a tall order. But Ian Williams, who joined 7-Eleven from Sunoco in 2009, is confident it will happen based on recent growth trends.

“The largest acquisition in 7-Eleven Inc.’s history was completed in January 2018 with the purchase of more than 1,000 stores from Sunoco LP,” he told CSP via email. “In recent years, new construction averages more than 200 new stores per year, and we are poised to significantly accelerate our organic growth moving forward.”

He acknowledges it’s an ambitious goal, one built on a three-legged “disciplined growth strategy”:

  • Increase the chain’s market concentration in established key areas. “We know that building new stores or acquiring quality assets in highly concentrated areas is more effective for our business and our franchisees,” Williams says.
  • Grow 7-Eleven’s business conversion program, providing small c-store owners the opportunity to convert their store and operate as a 7-Eleven store.
  • Acquire other quality locations to support and accelerate growth areas in existing markets and with sufficient scale to support new markets to reach customers underserved by the company’s existing store base.

“We see great opportunity for continued consolidation of the convenience-store industry sector in the U.S.,” Williams says. “7-Eleven expects M&A to continue to be very active, and 7-Eleven will continue to actively seek good acquisition opportunities.”