RICHMOND, Va. -- Seibert's Convenience Stores, which operates six stores in Virginia, renamed its five Richmond area stations 'berts Buck Stop. The name change, including signage and branding, officially took place last week, according to a report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The sixth store, a Shell station in King George County, will not switch to the new name for now.
Changing the names creates a solid brand for its stores, which are facing toughening competition from chains including Wawa and Costco, the company told the newspaper.
Seibert's opened its first station in 1976 and had about 35 locations at its peak in the 1990s.
The stations have not had any designation on its locations for many years. A shopper would stop at a Shell or BP station and wouldn't see the Seibert's Convenience Stores name as the operator.
The new name identifies the store to help create a bond with consumers, particularly local ones, Randy Seibert, Seibert's president, told the paper.
"Over the last 10 years, we didn't emphasize our name as much. But about a year ago, we decided that we needed to personalize" the stations, he said.
Seibert said the stores will offer the same products and services as before, including snacks, drinks and prepared foods in the stores' Better Day Cafe.
David Urban, a professor of marketing and executive associate dean at Virginia Commonwealth University's business school, said the in-store experience will have to be good if Seibert's expects to compete. "The name change is the easy part. The real challenge is to compete in all of the other areas--merchandise assortment, quality, service, cleanliness, price and consistency across outlets," he told the Times-Dispatch.
"The competition is really intense, with 7-Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz and locally grown Uppy's, in addition to Seibert's. So if a chain can't carve out any differentiation from the already entrenched strong names, it's a really tough proposition," Seibert added.
Seibert said 'berts Buck Stop already has the attributes Urban talks about, but it can now do a better job exposing them to a larger customer base. "Our convenience stores have always had something great to offer, and now we have a fresh and recognizable brand to help tie it all together," he said.
The branding, which was conceived with Richmond ad agency Madison+Main, centers on simplifying the family name.
Seibert said the name--which is pronounced with an emphasis on the "i"--is frequently mispronounced. Most people, he said, emphasize the "e."
" 'Berts is the part of our name that no one pronounces or spells wrong," Seibert said.
Changing the names on the stations is part of a large rebranding effort for the entire company that began last year, added the report.
Seibert's Family of Cos. is the parent company of several Richmond-based businesses in the automotive industry: Seibert's Towing, 'BERTS Buck Stop Convenience Stores and Better Day Cafes, Seibert's Auto Auction, Seibert's Body Shop and Seibert's Wholesale Fuels. The company was founded in 1976 by John Seibert when he opened his first service station in the Manchester district of Richmond.