A 7-Eleven owner has begged the convenience store giant to allow him to close his outlet at night after a spate of armed robberies.
Paresh Davaria's 7-Eleven convenience store in Campbelltown in Sydney's West was held up at 2am on January 22 by a knife-wielding bandit, and again at 3.20am on April 28 by someone with a sawn-off shotgun.
Police recommended the closure of the store between 11pm and 4am, however 7-Eleven has refused Mr Davaria's request.
A report by Senior Constable David Blom, following a police security assessment of Mr Davaria's store on May 4, identified the robbery risk as "extreme".
“The business should not operate between the hours of 11.00pm and 4.00am," the report stated. "This is due to the fact that no other stores in the vicinity are operating within this period. This increases the risk of robbery and places the staff in direct danger."
However, in a letter to Mr Davaria's lawyer, 7-Eleven's corporate legal counsel, Barry Devenish, said “it is not considered that an approach to 7-Eleven Inc for night closure is warranted”.
Instead, 7-Eleven installed a "safe-haven door" to the back office area, replaced the front doors with fully framed doors, installed additional CCTV cameras and removed window posters and point of sale material to increase visibility.
Mr Davaria is unhappy with 7-Eleven’s response.
"It's a scary situation," he told Fairfax Media. "Safety is always definitely an issue. I don't sleep at night sometimes, you don't know when it will happen again. To be honest, I am always worried. I don’t know what is going to happen to me or my staff. I have to work at night as staff don't want to turn up."
Mr Davaria says he operates at a loss by opening overnight. He says on average, 55 customers come through the store between 11pm and 5am, for total mean gross revenue of $424.05.
The average gross profit is 35 per cent, of which the franchisee retains 17.5 per cent. After deducting the $175 cost of wages, Mr Davaria suffers a net loss of $100.80 a night while 7-Eleven makes $74.20.
"Monetary-wise as well, it is not beneficial to keep the store running at night time," he says. "In the area, we are the only store open at night. Every day I lose $100 just to trade at night."
Mr Davaria is also the lead applicant in 7-Eleven franchisees' class action against the convenience store giant. He claims there are grounds for believing 7-Eleven is acting in a discriminatory fashion towards him because of this role.
Spate of armed robberies
Mr Davaria is not alone in experiencing violence at his store.
On May 1, 2018, a 13-year-old boy was charged with armed robbery after trying to rob a 7-Eleven at Upper Coomera near Brisbane. On July 28, 2015, three men stormed into a convenience store operated by 7-Eleven at Dromana on the Morning Peninsula near Melbourne, threatening an attendant and customer with a pistol and tomahawk.
Staff have also been injured in attacks, including a service station attendant in NSW's Hunter region who was stabbed in the chest during a violent armed robbery on April 19, 2015.
Chief executive Angus McKay wrote to franchisees on August 8 to tell them a worker at Springvale South near Melbourne was injured in an armed robbery involving a firearm.
"While the correct locked-door policy procedures had been followed, it appears that the offender rushed into the store when the door was opened for a customer," Mr McKay said in the email.
The worker was admitted to hospital and the customer "offered support".
Requirement for 24-hour convenience
Clayton Ford, spokesperson for 7-Eleven, told Fairfax Media stores needed to be open overnight.
"7-Eleven is a 24-hour convenience business, which is clearly understood when franchisees apply to operate a store, and accepted under the franchise agreement," he said. "The safety of staff and customers in our stores is our paramount concern and we have invested millions of dollars in security measures in recent years and will continue to invest as needed."
Mr Clayton said after receiving the police risk assessment of Mr Davaria's Campbelltown store, 7-Eleven had invested "tens of thousands of dollars" to improve its safety.
"We have liaised with the local police to ensure that this comprehensive response effectively minimises the initially assessed level of risk to enable the store to safely trade 24/7," he said. "Mr Davaria’s concerns in this matter have been treated in the same manner as those raised by any other franchisee."