Pennsylvania convenience store chain Wawa isn't the only company in its sector to capitalize on the rebound in population growth in Florida and the Gulf Coast.
Add industry leader 7-Eleven to the list.
The Dallas-based firm, says spokeswoman Margaret Chabris, has spent the past few years on a nationwide effort to convert corporate-owned stores to franchises, plus add new locations. The mix has gone from 50-50 to about 80% franchise, 20% corporate-owned. With nearly 8,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada, 7-Eleven is the largest convenience store chain in North America, according to industry trade publication CSP Magazine.
The Sunshine State, says Chabris, is the company's latest target for expansion and corporate-owned conversion. “Florida is a great state for us,” Chabris tells Coffee Talk.
The corporate office recently launched a large campaign to recruit franchisees on the Gulf Coast, where it has 54 locations for sale. The campaign includes free informational franchise workshops, at locations from Sarasota to Naples, through October. The average fee for a store in the region is $117,000, the company says, in addition to a $28,000 licensing fee, a security deposit and possible other costs.
There are 287 7-Eleven stores in the eight counties from Pasco to Collier. “This part of Florida has an accelerated population growth,” says Chabris, “which means more demand of convenient foods and services.”
Several other national convenience store chains see the same opportunities. Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons has opened several stores in the Tampa area in the past year and has others in Manatee County under construction. And suburban Philadelphia-based Wawa, with more than 600 locations in the Mid-Atlantic, entered Florida, in the Orlando and Tampa markets, in 2012. The firm plans at least 25 store openings in the state this year, including locations in the Sarasota-Bradenton market and Fort Myers.