7-Eleven Inc.'s parent company Seven & I Holdings Co. Ltd. is giving two thumbs up to the convenience store's efforts in fresh food.
On July 18, the Japanese company announced that 7-Eleven's U.S. operations reported the highest operating income in its history, and saw a 3.4% comparable store sales increase during the first quarter of 2019, with fresh food and 7-Select private brand products driving results, reported the Dallas Morning News.
Looking forward, the company intends to continue down this path and lend some of Japan's strengths to the United States branch.
"The development and improvement of fast food items is important and something which we will be doing going forward," Tokyo-based Seven & I Holdings wrote in its Q1 report. "We also believe changing public perceptions of 7-Eleven in the United States to be important. In order to change public perception when it comes to buying food products at 7-Eleven, like is common in Japan, we will be strengthening store cleanliness and improving customer service."
7-Eleven's recent efforts include the opening of a lab store and experiential testing ground in Dallas. Highlights of the lab store include made-to-order smoothies and aguas frescas, street tacos with handmade tortillas, baked-in-store cookies and croissants, a growler station that pours local craft beers, and both patio and in-store dining areas, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
These solid results continued into the second quarter. Same-store sales at U.S. 7-Eleven stores were up 5.2% in April and 2.8%. Additionally, the 7Rewards loyalty program and introduction of 7-Eleven private label products at the c-stores it acquired from Sunoco in 2018 increased profit margins, according to the company.
Looking ahead, the retailer plans to continue renovating U.S. stores and testing a scan and payment system that enables customers to pay using their smartphones. The latter is part of the company's personnel-saving efforts and designed to increase profitability.
Seven & I Holdings also reported that 7-Eleven's U.S. operating income reached $161 million during the quarter, up $31 million from the previous year, allowing the parent company to post profits exceeding its guidance for the three months ending March 2019.
Irving-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 68,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.
Originally published at Convenience Store News.