PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisc. - Pleased with the divesture of 19 sites to 7-Eleven, Open Pantry will continue to operate eight core sites in Southeast Wisconsin, and strategically reposition the many Open Pantry Brands for a 2013 rollout.
As announced by 7-Eleven last week, Open Pantry sold 19 sites to 7-Eleven, which enabled 7Eleven to reenter the Wisconsin market. President and CEO of Open Pantry Food Marts Robert A. Buhler commented, "The global brand 7-Eleven offers to this marketplace adds value for consumers interested in their many proprietary offerings. Open Pantry's 8 remaining core sites will continue to offer our proprietary products (Willow Creek Coffee, Open Pantry Gourmet Sandwich and Salads, etc.) serving our core customers."
Key to the deal for Buhler was being certain all Open Pantry employees had an opportunity to transition to 7-Eleven; 190 full and part time employees did. Jim Schultz, Open Pantry vice president and director of people assets, stated, "We encouraged all employees to review 7-Eleven's employment package and vast growth opportunities; potentially both domestical1y and internationally. Everything settled out nicely for all store employees, including Open Pantry retaining a key group of highly seasoned store managers to run our core sites."
Open Pantry has no plans to further divest of the remaining eight sites, and will continue to look for growth opportunities, stated Buhler. "Our operating risks are significantly less now with fewer sites, while the real estate portfolio (E & K Land LLC) continues to hold 16 superb properties transitioned to 7-Eleven. Furthermore, our dealer business remains very important to Open Pantry and can grow, we feel."
Most importantly, Open Pantry has developed an exceptional operating capacity and branding image, which transforms modest sites into upscale, professionally welcoming convenience stores that are nationally recognized and emulated.
This ability, Buhler said, "is of great value to many operators who would like to have both a high end brand and look, coupled with a successful merchandising offering including buying power, and sophisticated drill-down back office reporting capability. We are exploring promoting this capability to Jobbers seriously interested in aiding their sophisticated dealers, as well as convenience store chains that are passionate about making the leap to quality, but need a packaging program to do so."