Amoco Returns for an Encore

First branded sites open in New York, with more slated in 2018

PELHAM MANOR, N.Y. -- The next phase of BP’s growth plan may be as hard to miss as the backlit red, white and blue awning of the newly opened Amoco gas station in Pelham Manor, a leafy suburb of New York City.

This site is the sixth in the nation—all in New York and New Jersey—to bring back Amoco, a brand BP packed into obscurity 12 years ago. The resurrection of Amoco, announced in October 2017, provides BP with another way to sell gas in markets already saturated with its namesake brand’s stations, said Rick Altizer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Houston-based BP.

“In urban areas like Pelham Manor, it’s very competitively dense, and we have people who bring us packages of sites that are very near BP sites,” he told CSP Daily News. “This allows us to reflect that density and still keep BP growing.”

Altizer described the Pelham Manor site as a BP skinned with Amoco trade dress. The fuel slate—three grades of gasoline with BP’s Invigorate additive—is the same, as is the configuration and the technology, he said.

With the reintroduction of Amoco, BP is also offering a new Amoco “to go” retail image. Otherwise, the caliber and assortment of goods is typical of the lineup at a BP-branded site, Altizer said. He declined to reveal the cost of converting the Pelham Manor location, which formerly had a different fuel brand. “It’s a rebranding package competitive with what it would cost a competitor of BP,” he said.

The only BP-Amoco connections drawn for customers are the station’s acceptance of BP credit cards and the BP loyalty program. “Inside, you’d know we still accepted the BP branded card,” said Altizer.

Reintroducing the brand has thus far been a site-level endeavor, with a reliance on the logo and other trade-dress elements as the attention-getters. An umbrella marketing campaign could come down the road as the brand gains scale, said Altizer.

“We’ve done some consumer research here at the site, and there’s a lot of people who still remember Amoco,” he said. The brand extends back 105 years, and once adorned 9,000 stations in the United States. But BP retired it in 2000, two years after merging with the chain’s parent.

Growth Initiatives

Altizer noted that BP and the reborn Amoco are meant to be different only in name; one is not intended to be a secondary option and the other the premium choice. “The two brands are very much positioned the same with consumers, both perceived as high-quality products,” he said. 

The preopening research revealed that the clientele of BP and the expected following for Amoco will likely be indistinguishable.

Four more Amoco units are in the permitting stage, with the next unit slated to open in Chicago. Other stores are planned for the Carolinas. Altizer declined to divulge an expansion target for the Amoco brand, saying, “we’ll be opportunistic.”

“We’re in the prototyping phase right now,” he said. “We’re taking a measured approach.”

The embrace of Amoco as a second brand is part of a growth acceleration that also calls for opening more BP-branded stations in other countries, particularly Mexico, and expanding BP’s c-store brand, ampm, on the West Coast. 

BP recently opened its first new-to-industry ampm site—a 3,100-square foot location in Sacramento, Calif.—in more than 12 years. This marks the 1,000th ampm for BP; in 2012 the company decided to focus the franchise, known for its fresh sandwiches, bakery and coffee, exclusively in the Western United States.

Altizer said the growth initiatives unfolding at the edges of the United States—the revival of Amoco on the East Coast, the opening of 1,500 sites in Mexico and the renewed attention to ampm in California—could eventually come together mid-nation.

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