In its largest acquisition in 20-years, the Dallas-based convenience store operator 7-Eleven has bought up White Hen Pantry, an Illinois convenience chain.

White Hen operates and franchises 206 stores in Chicago and northwest Indiana and licences an additional 55 outlets in Boston.

“This acquisition is a strategic fit for 7-Eleven and enhances market presence in the Chicagoland area,” said 7-Eleven president and CEO Joseph DePinto. “White Hen has a well-earned reputation for quality, service and fresh foods. We plan to incorporate best practices from the White Hen stores and provide our customers with an even better and more convenient shopping experience.”

In total, 7-Eleven and White Hen have nearly 400 stores in Chicago area, where White Hen stores will continue to operate for the near term as they have. The acquisition brings the number of 7-Eleven stores nationally to over 7,100.

“Chicago is a growth market for 7-Eleven,” said Nancy Smith, vice president for 7-Eleven stores in the Midwest. “With the addition of White Hen, convenience becomes even more accessible to Chicago area shoppers.”

“The c-store business has become increasingly sophisticated and competitive,” said White Hen Pantry president and CEO Brandon Barnholt. “As the founder and global leader of convenience retailing, 7-Eleven- probably more than anyone – understands what it takes to be successful in this business. I believe this decision will provide great opportunities for the future of our company, our franchisees and our customers.”

Japan’s Seven & I Holdings Co., operator of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain, said today (11 August) that it purchased White Hen Pantry for a total of US$35m, adding that the acquisition will strengthen its US operations.