WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — 7-Eleven is urging suppliers to help boost the convenience store company's innovative products pipeline, said Joseph DePinto, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas-based chain.
In a speech last week, DePinto said the retailer, which operates 7,200 stores in North America, is focusing on the elimination of poorly performing stockkeeping units to prepare for new items.
“I'm asking you to work with us in identifying innovative items,” DePinto told a supplier-heavy audience at the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association Executive Conference here.
“We're looking for new customer solutions and trends,” he added. “Let us know and we'll get it into our stores. Products not selling are being narrowed and deleted. So we've got the shelf space. We're open to trying anything new that makes sense.”
Regional and local product assortments will be most welcome, he said, noting that SKUs will even be differentiated by individual store.
Recently launched product segments that proved innovative included nutritional bars and vitamin-fortified water, he said.
7-Eleven operates in 17 countries and posts combined volume of about $44 billion. The retailer is turning to fresh foods for growth. The company's Asian stores mount the biggest share presentations of fresh foods, whereas in the U.S. the average share is about 10% of store sales.
The company has determined that building fresh food operations requires ongoing investments. “We are spending $1 billion over the next four years to renovate the insides of our stores to make them more presentable from the fresh foods perspective,” he said.
The company is also making logistical and distribution changes to accommodate fresh foods. It plans to markedly increase the number of daily fresh food deliveries, ranging from milk to bread, to each store. 7-Eleven will work with third-party logistics operators to accomplish that goal, and DePinto asked the supplier community to join the retailer in tests of the program.