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    FINA Brand Coming to an End After 51 Years

    Beginning in January, Alon Brands will start a two-year investment to relaunch the company's operations and convert every site to the ALON trade brand.

    By Barbara Grondin Francella

    DALLAS -- Three years after Alon Brands Inc. was chartered as a freestanding company and charged with revitalizing refiner Alon USA Energy's network of nearly 1,000 branded gasoline locations, President and CEO Kyle McKeen and Senior Vice President of Wholesale Marketing Judge Dobrient are overseeing a transformation that will mean the end of the 51-year-old FINA name and the introduction of the ALON brand.

    Beginning this January, Alon Brands, marketer of gasoline in eight states and the largest 7-Eleven licensee in North America with 302 company-operated stores, will begin a comprehensive two-year investment to relaunch the company's operations, starting with the conversion of every site to the ALON trade brand.

    The change will be a small, phonetic one -- the four letters of FINA will be replaced by the four letters of ALON -- in a new graphic treatment that retains the current red-white-and-blue graphic imagery. While not dramatic, the change signals a significant shift in philosophy and direction, one that began when Alon Brands was formed.

    "This process signals change to our retail consumers, better aligns us to our dependable source of supply and builds on existing brand equity," McKeen said in an exclusive interview. "Unlike many reinventions, our future will be built on core values that have been central to our organization for years -- a partnership to success mentality, focus on relationships, dependability and strong, solid lines of supply, while delivering a fresh, new focus on innovation, service and support that we provide c-store operators. The brand change will give people a reason to take a look -- or second look -- at us. But it's not so dramatic as to create confusion among current customers."

    Customer engagement has already started with use of a new advertising tagline, "Along the way," priming the public on the correct pronunciation of ALON (Uh-lon, not Aay-lon or Ale-on.)

    The name change will also open up additional opportunity for growth. When Alon was formed -- after Alon Israel Oil Co. Ltd., the largest Israeli-based fuel company, purchased the FINA retail network, an oil refinery, pipelines and terminals from Total SA in August 2000 -- the deal restricted the FINA name to Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

    The new ALON trade name has no geographic limitations, enabling the gasoline marketer to better support its existing customers and reach out to other store operators.

    In addition, Alon Brands' conversion from the FINA name to the ALON brand coincides with the marketer's refurbishing of all of its 7-Eleven stores, which are concentrated in west Texas and New Mexico. Fifty locations will be remodeled by the end of this year.

    Floors and ceilings will be replaced; the fountain area enhanced; and the coffee island upgraded with 7-Eleven graphics, coffee urns that signal employees when they need filling or refreshing, refrigerated creamer stations, flavor shots and other condiments, and a small sink to help employees keep the area clean and customer friendly.

    Plans call for approximately 100 more stores to be remodeled in 2012 and another 100 the year after, until all company units are restyled.

    "Over time, c-stores have become extensions of consumer kitchens and dining rooms. People expect the same or even a higher level of cleanliness and order from us as they do in their own homes," said McKeen. "Given what we've learned from recent remodeling experiences, we have high confidence levels in the value of our planned updates and upgrades."

    To read more about Alon Brands' transformation, including the expansion of its Clean TEAM initiative, click here.

    By Barbara Grondin Francella
    • About Barbara Grondin Francella

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