ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Former 7-Eleven President and CEO Jim Keyes made a welcomed and surprise appearance closing out the 2018 National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees convention in Orlando. His speech, highlighting the importance of change in American business and the strength of the franchise model, came as franchisees are at odds with the company over terms of a new agreement to keep operating their convenience stores.
The National Coalition says Keyes’ appearance at the convention demonstrates the mutual respect shared by 7-Eleven franchisees and the former boss, who led a turnaround of 7-Eleven, saving the company from the brink of extinction in 1991. 7-Eleven is now the world’s biggest retail chain with nearly 70,000 locations around the world.
“If I could point to one most critical factor in the success of 7-Eleven or in the success of an individual franchisee, it would be the importance of embracing change. We were obsessed with innovation, using the eyes and ears of thousands of franchisees to find new products, and deploying technologies that met the changing needs of convenience customers,” said Keyes, who worked for 7-Eleven for 21 years and served as President and CEO from 2000 to 2005, retiring after it was sold to the Japanese company Seven & I Holdings.
National Coalition Chairman Jay Singh reminded the audience of 1,300 franchisees that Keyes led 7-Eleven through 40 quarters of improved same store sales and strong earnings and maintained open lines of communication with franchise owners even during times of conflict.
“You represent the entrepreneurial spirit that is the backbone of American business and the embodiment of the American Dream,” Keyes remarked.
While he did not address the current relationship between 7-Eleven and its store owners, which The New York Times characterized in a recent article as having been “deteriorating for years,” Keyes highlighted the value of the franchise model—crediting pioneers like 7-Eleven founder Joe C Thompson, Ray Kroc of McDonalds, and Fred DeLuca of Subway for creating a path to middle class success for so many.
Keyes shared one story of a franchisee, who is also a development agent for the Subway chain: “He came from South Asia as a young man to work in his uncle’s 7-Eleven store. He saved his money but took a different path, discovering that Subway provided a similar opportunity. The same family enjoyed success as entrepreneurs in two different companies with the same successful outcome, achieving the American Dream.”
About the NCASEF: The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees is the national trade association for 7-Eleven franchise owners. Originally founded in 1973, NCASEF is comprised of 44 Franchise Association members who represent more than 4,600 7-Eleven owners in the U.S.