On the Grow With Valero

Retail branch plans aggressive three-year growth strategy

SAN ANTONIO -- Now about half way through its rebranding and reimaging projects, Valero Energy Corp. expects to complete its change from Diamond Shamrock-branded gasoline to the Valero moniker by the middle of 2007. But don't expect the largest refiner in North America to rest on its retail laurels once the process is done. Growth is in the air.

Three years ago, new-to-the-industry sites were not high on our to-do list, said Hal Adams, Valero's vice president of merchandising and store development, during a CSPNetwork CyberConference. But I think it's [image-nocss] fair to say that [now] we're out there looking and kicking tires on all kinds of options to grow the chain, and we certainly have what I would call an aggressive plan for the next three years in terms of building new-to-the-industry locations as well. To view an OnDemand rebroadcast of the CyberConference for $49, click here.

Adams said, during the past three years, the San Antonio-based company was busy working on an asset-allocation plan and divesting ourselves of assets that weren't adding to our portfolio. But we feel like we've gotten our chain to a size where we like the stores we have and they're all adding value.

Thus, the company and its Corner Store convenience store chain are back in growth mode, and that's part of what made the rebranding of the company's gasoline necessary.

Our growth in the retail business is really on our wholesale side, where we're growing jobbers and distributors, and that growth is coming from both coasts, mainly, where we were selling the Valero brand, Adams said. In order to take advantage of that growth and that success, and to gain synergies, we made a decision last year to move away from our legacy brands of Diamond Shamrock, Beacon and Ultramar to Valero. And it has been very well received.

The rebranding effort, begun in July 2005, includes 5,000 sites. As markets are rebranded, Valero is launching marketing campaigns to familiarize consumers with the new brand. We're using the moniker of Same place, prettier face' to tell the consumer that we're moving from Diamond Shamrock to Valero, Adams said. It's the same great people and the same great products, just a different name. It's one of the most exciting things that we've got going on, and there's a lot of energy behind it.

CSPNetwork will host a second Valero Energy CyberConference with the company's vice president of wholesale marketing, Ken Applegate, on Monday, February 8. Free for retailers and wholesalers; not open to suppliers. To register, click here.