FINA Finale

Southern fuel brand to make exit in favor of ALON moniker

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

DALLAS -- After 51 years, the FINA brand is about to take a final bow, with its owner opting to put its own name, ALON, on its pumps and canopies.

Starting next February, Alon Brands Inc. will remove the FINA name at its nearly 1,000 branded locations in eight states, as well as its 302 company-operated 7-Eleven stores. In its place, the ALON brand will emerge, retaining the red-white-and-blue graphic imagery, but now more closely tied to its supply roots with its parent, Alon Israel Oil Co. Ltd.

"We've dramatically changed our direct-ops and our distributor stores, so when you look at our operations, it's not the same chain," says Kyle McKeen, president and CEO of the Dallas-based company, attributing the results to its "Clean Team" program. "We're changing the name as a signal to our distributor clients and the motoring public."

The name change was one of many options the company considered moving forward, McKeen told CSP Daily News. "And one of the questions was how do we better align with our parent, Alon?"

About three years ago, refiner Alon USA Energy created Alon Brands to help rejuvenate its retail arm. The name change coincides with a two-year investment to refresh the chain's image. That effort now includes the refurbishing all of the 7-Eleven stores it operates as a licensee. Those stores, located largely in Texas and New Mexico, will receive new floors and ceilings, fountain and coffee upgrades.

McKeen said the physical name change will occur through next July. The additional upgrades at its direct-ops have begun, with about 100 going through renovations annually through 2014.

The name change also frees up Alon geographically. When the deal for the FINA assets was completed in August 2000, use of the name was confined to Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The ALON brand will have no such restriction.

"Successfully operating convenience stores in today's highly challenging environment means having every aspect of the business performing at optimal levels," McKeen said in a statement. "Our plans for implementing the new market identity have passed the most critical test, and that's securing the confidence of the distributors we serve and support, demonstrating our redoubled commitment to innovation, service and support to convenience store owners and operators. We're excited about the future."

Alon USA Energy, Dallas, is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products, operating primarily in the South Central, Southwestern and Western regions of the United States. The company owns four crude oil refineries in Texas, California, Louisiana and Oregon, total throughput of approximately 250,000 barrels per day. Alon USA is the largest 7-Eleven licensee in the United States and operates more than 300 convenience stores in Texas and New Mexico. Alon USA markets motor fuel products under the FINA brand at these locations and at more than 600 distributor-serviced locations.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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