7-Eleven Drops Venezuelan Gasoline Provider

Date: OCT 2nd, 2006

Topic: Franchise News

7-Eleven Inc. is terminating its relationship with CITGO as its gasoline provider and will be switching to its own brand.

After Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez'''s recent heated speech at the United Nations in which he called U.S President George Bush "the devil", 7-Eleven was faced with a onslaught of calls from customers and bloggers demanding a boycott of CITGO gasoline stations. 7-Eleven Inc. said Wednesday that the CITGO signs are going to start coming down from its convenience stores. The Washington Post had this to add:

"The chain moved up the announcement of those plans in response to the outcry over the Chavez speech. "We sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez," 7-Eleven public relations director Margaret Chabris said in a statement that waded into the political fray. In an interview, she added: "Customers started calling last week and saying that they didn't like what Chavez said. And they wanted to know what we were going to do."

Conversely, CITGO Petroleum Corp., the U.S.-based subsidiary of the Venezuelan government-controlled oil company, criticized 7-Eleven for using political gain during its exit from contracts it held with CITGO. CITGO's CEO Felix Rodriguez reportedly told local media: "Now they want to exploit all this for political gain, but this is a commercial relationship that is about to end on Sept. 30 as laid out in a contract,".

Margaret Chabris, a spokesperson for 7-Eleven again reiterated to the LA Business Journal, "Our decision to rebrand the gasoline as our own was made some time ago and certainly before Hugo Chavez made his remarks at the U.N. Last week."