ALBANY — Somehow, one of the largest business acquisitions to impact the Capital District snuck up on us over the summer.
As part of an agreement, 7-Eleven acquired approximately 3,900 Speedway stores from Marathon Petroleum Corp for $21 billion in cash. The announcement was made in August, but local people didn’t notice anything until a Washington Avenue Speedway rebranded to the orange and green last week.
“This acquisition is the largest in our company’s history and will allow us to continue to grow and diversify our presence in the U.S., particularly in the Midwest and East Coast,” said Joe DePinto, President and Chief Executive Officer of 7-Eleven. “By adding these quality locations to our portfolio, 7-Eleven will have the opportunity to bring convenience to more customers than ever before.”
The convenience store giant continues to spread its brand across 35 states with the new venture, and brings it into the Capital District for the first time — an apparent challenge to regional giant, Stewart’s Shops.
“There’s a lot of hype. A lot of people saying, ‘see ya, Stewart’s,’” said Taylor Rao, of Two Buttons Deep’s, while on the social news website’s podcast last week.
The acquisition brings 7-Eleven’s total number of stores to approximately 14,000 in the U.S. and Canada. It’s footprint across the country now spans across 47 of the top 50 most populated metro areas in the U.S., positioning the company as a clear industry leader in a fragmented industry with favorable macroeconomic trends. Internationally, the Japanese-owned company has more than 71,000 stores in 17 countries.
7–Eleven is perhaps best known for its Slurpee, Big Bite and Big Gulp products. Over the years, it has expanded into sandwiches, salads, side dishes, cut fruit and protein boxes, as well as other fast food staples such as pizza, chicken wings and mini beef tacos.
As Two Buttons Deep suggested, the respect for the name seems to already place it in line against a locally owned giant, Stewart’s Shops. There are 330 Speedway shops in New York State. Stewart’s Shops currently has 335 storefronts.
Stewart’s Shops started in 1945 when the Dake brothers purchased a small dairy and ice cream business in Ballston Spa. The company continues to be owned and operated by a third generation of Dake family members, with Bill Dake serving as Chairman of the Board and Gary Dake acting as president.
While 7-Eleven announced its acquisition in August, Stewart’s Shop has also been growing its portfolio locally. This year, it has shown a commitment to its gasoline and diesel business. In January, Stewart’s spent $6.6 million to purchase Polsinello Fuel’s wholesale business at the Port of Albany. And, it stands to acquire Red-Kap wholesale fuel distribution business and convenience stores before the year’s end. Albany Business Review reported that the move should allow Stewart’s Shop to have more negotiating power with fuel supply and costs at the Port of Albany.
However, it’s reputation continues to thrive with local farmers, where the convenience store chain features produce from 30 local dairies, including 54,000 eggs daily from the Thomas’ Poultry Farm in Schuylerville.
“I think anybody who thinks 7-Eleven is legitimate competition to Stewart’s is wildly out of touch with upstate New York,” said Two Buttons Deep’s Jack Carpenter. It should be state, Stewart’s Shop has been a longtime supporter of the website. “7-Eleven is a convenience store. Stewart’s is a lifestyle.”