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James Keyes is new head at Blockbuster Inc.

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James Keyes, the former president and CEO of 7-Eleven, has been designated as chairman and CEO of Blockbuster Inc. He takes over the mantle from John Antioco, who served as chairman and CEO of the locally-based video rental chain for the past decade.

In a statement announcing Keyes’ appointment, Blockbuster said that although the appointment is effective immediately, Antioco “will be assisting with an orderly corporate transition.”

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, under a three-year contract, Keyes will receive a salary of at least $750,000 a year and a bonus of up to $500,000. In addition, he will be given $3 million in shares that will vest three years from his appointment, and he has also agreed to buy $3 million shares within 30 days of his appointment.

Keyes headed 7-Eleven between 2000 and 2005, ending his tenure when the company was sold in 2005. By then, the convenience store chain had achieved 36 successive quarters of same-store sales increases.

Blockbuster had revenues of $5.5 billion in 2006, compared to $5.9 billion in 2003. The company operates approximately 8,000 units, about 5,000 of which are in the United States. By the end of the first quarter of this year, Blockbuster had more than three million online subscribers. In a June 27 SEC filing, the company said it intends to “strike the appropriate balance between continued subscriber growth and enhanced profitability.”

The company had recently announced, in an SEC filing, that it would close another 282 units this year. This follows the closure of 290 units in 2006.

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