A CSD EXCLUSIVE
The majority of Tedeschi Food Shop employees are expected to retain their positions at the store level, but the future of the iconic family brand remains in question.
By John Lofstock, Editor
At a Glance: Tedeschi Food Stores
Headquarters: Rockland, Mass.
On the heels of an emotional deal to sell the family business to Dallas-based 7-Eleven, Peter Tedeschi, the third-generation president and CEO of Tedeschi Food Shops, said the family was at peace with its decision and is looking forward to new opportunities in the convenience store industry or otherwise.
“It is never an easy decision to sell a family-owned company, but as this deal began to come together, we reached out to shareholders and made sure they got to weigh in on it,” Tedeschi told me yesterday. “Everyone was comfortable we were making a good decision, the right decision.”
The deal with 7-Eleven is a game-changer for the convenience store industry across New England. The agreement, expected to close within the next couple of months, includes all the assets of Tedeschi Food Shops, which consists of 182 convenience stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Fifteen of the stores currently sell gasoline. The company also operates a foodservice commissary that serves as a central distribution center for fresh foods, such as sandwiches and salads.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by Tedeschi or 7-Eleven. A 7-Eleven spokesperson also declined to discuss its future plans for the Tedeschi brand in the coming months, including whether it plans to rebrand the stores, something Tedeschi himself said is a distinct possibility given that 7-Eleven has done so with each of its numerous acquisitions in the recent past. 7-Eleven currently operates and franchises 164 stores in the greater Boston area and New Hampshire.
End of an Era
Few companies can match the rich tradition and deep roots Tedeschi Food Shops has planted in the convenience store industry. In business since 1923, the company’s nine decades of service in the New England market is a distinguishing feature the company wears with pride.
The venerable New England chain was founded by Peter Tedeschi’s grandfather Angelo. Tedeschi said the company was always careful to focused on creating a great retail environment for employees and customers.
7-Eleven said it expects to extend offers to the majority of Tedeschi Food Shop’s employees, something Peter Tedeschi had discussed during negotiations. “This is something that was very important to me and all of our shareholders,” he said. “It was a repetitive theme throughout negotiations and 7-Eleven, as you would expect, was very receptive to keeping our hard-working employees.”
Similarly, Tedeschi’s has been a staunch supporter of numerous local charities throughout New England. Tedeschi said he would implore 7-Eleven to continue the charitable work it has been committed to through the years.
“When you are a family business operating in close communities like we have in the New England market, you take great pride in giving back to the customers that support you,” Tedeschi said. “I will encourage 7-Eleven to continue doing that work.”
In recent years, Tedeschi’s has transformed its retail image with a new store design, a thriving proprietary foodservice program, and a growing private label food and beverage brand. Combined with a company-owned foodservice commissary and vibrant community outreach programs, Tedeschi boasts the exceptional leadership and unsurpassed customer service to which all others aspire. In recognition of its hard work, Convenience Store Decisions honored Tedeschi Food Shops as the 2012 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.
In late 2014, rumors began to swirl that the chain was on the block, which is no surprise given the extremely high multiples other family-owned businesses like Nice N Easy have been able to fetch over the past 12 months. One analyst told me that with the double-digit multiples he’s seeing, “any family-owned business would be crazy not to explore what someone is willing to pay.”
But unlike Nice N Easy, Tedeschi’s ownership structure included as many as a dozen family members having shareholder equity. In the end, all of the shareholders agreed the deal with 7-Eleven made the most sense. “We had the support from all shareholders before approving this deal,” Tedeschi said. “I’m sure some may not be as thrilled as others–primarily because of the wide age range of our shareholders–but we all were able to agree to terms.”
As for Tedeschi, whose personality and business acumen was an instant hit with his peers across the industry since he joined the family operation seven years ago, the future is filled with potential. He will evaluate his options, he said, in the coming weeks.
Additionally, Tedeschi is currently a member of the NACS executive board, but that also could change if he doesn’t land a retail position.
“This is a wonderful industry and I hope to stay a part of it,” Tedeschi said. “This industry has some of the finest, most professional people I have ever met, but now that the deal is done, I can focus on my future and examine what my next step will be. If I find employment in the industry according to NACS guidelines, I’ll continue on the NACS board, so I hope to make sure I do what I need to in order to satisfy those requirements, but nothing is certain at this point.”