The presidents of all 43 7-Eleven franchisee associations have voted unanimously to have their members boycott the brand’s annual convention in February because of ongoing strife with the foodservice giant’s home office.
The organizations represent 7,000 of the chain’s roughly 8,200 franchised locations in the United States.
The conference boycott, announced in a press release issued Nov. 9 by the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees, is intended to send a message related to a lawsuit filed against the retailer on Oct. 12.
In the action, the NCASEF alleges that franchisor 7-Eleven Inc., or SEI, has been “chipping away at their profits, increasing their costs and exercising more control over what is supposed to be an independent operation.”
The plaintiffs claim the franchisor has not fulfilled its promise of treating franchisees as independent contractors and business owners.
The franchisees heading various associations represented by the NCASEF voted during a board meeting of the group to skip the annual meeting next year. The event is known as the 7-Eleven Experience.
“Our representatives spoke loud and clear and the coalition listened,” said Rehan Hashmi, vice chairman of the NCASEF. “The relationship between SEI and its franchisees is no longer evenhanded and that is hurting our members and their livelihood.”
According to Hashmi, SEI closed its regular channels of communication after franchisees in California filed the federal lawsuit.
“If SEI truly wants to recognize and celebrate its franchisees as the marketers of the 7-Eleven Experience claim, it shouldn’t cut off communications. Franchise owners have invested their lives in this brand and we want to prosper, but we can’t if our relationship with SEI remains one-sided,” he said.
SEI responded, “The national coalition is clearly out of touch with the quality and volume of communications between 7-Eleven and franchisees. The reality is that 7-Eleven postponed two meetings in October involving less than 80 of the over 4,300 franchisees.
"7-Eleven’s unique communications process includes weekly in-store meetings between franchisees and their field consultants, local employees of 7-Eleven Inc.,” it continued. “7-Eleven has a long history of consistent and transparent communications with franchisees. In fact, 7-Eleven has spent nearly $1 million developing a best-in-class app built for franchisees, which allows them to easily access communications at their convenience.”
7-Eleven’s domestic food and beverage sales for 2016 were pegged by Technomic at $3.68 billion annually.
The 7-Eleven Experience is scheduled for Feb. 14-15, 2018, in Las Vegas.
This story originally appeared on CSPDailyNews.com, the website of Restaurant Business' sister publication for the c-store industry, CSP.