Remodeling due at White Hens

Jon Chesto

The White Hen will likely make its last cluck in Massachusetts now that 7-Eleven Inc. has acquired the smaller convenience store chain in New England.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris said she expects the White Hen Pantry brand will be phased out completely in New England over the next few years as the stores are converted into 7-Eleven stores.

"What this means is that there are more places to get Slurpees in Massachusetts,'' Chabris sad.

7-Eleven purchased the White Hen Pantry brand in 2006 and began to rename the White Hen stores in the Chicago area. But the Dallas-based company maintained a master franchising agreement with New England Pantry Inc. of Norwood, which allowed New England Pantry to continue to operate the White Hen franchise in New England.

With the latest deal, 7-Eleven on Tuesday acquired New England Pantry from affiliates of Houston investment firm Sanders Morris Harris Group for an undisclosed amount.

Chabris said 7-Eleven officials are meeting with White Hen franchisees this week to talk about converting their stores to 7-Eleven stores.

New England Pantry leases 55 stores in Massachusetts and two in New Hampshire that are operated by franchisees, and directly runs one White Hen store in Northborough.

7-Eleven only has seven White Hen Pantry stores left outside of New England. They are all in the Chicago area, which is where the brand originated. With this week's acquisition, 7-Eleven will operate or franchise more than 170 stores in greater Boston.

Chabris said 7-Eleven will invest in remodeling projects at the White Hen stores.

New England Pantry CEO Andy Brothers is joining 7-Eleven's management team. Chabris said she expects there will be no immediate impact to the 23-person staff at the Norwood corporate office.

"Nothing is changing right at the moment,'' Chabris said. "It's going to take time to do the conversions.''

Jon Chesto may be reached at jchesto@ledger.com.