Flexibility Key to BP's 'to go' Retail Image

New convenience store image targets former ampm, other formats in eastern U.S.

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

BP to go ampm convenience stores (CSP Daily News)

LA PALMA, Calif. & WARRENVILLE, Ill. --BP this week unveiled the "to go" retail image, a flexible format that could provide the formula that has eluded the major oil company, which in its quest for the ideal convenience store format has gone through a few regional and national transformations.

BP merged with Amoco in 1998. By 2000, it had retired the Amoco station and Amoco Food Shop brand, relegating it to a BP fuel brand at the pump. BP acquired Atlantic-Richfield (ARCO) and its West Coast ampm c-store image format in 2000. Meanwhile, it rolled out the BP Connect and Wild Bean Cafe format. In 2007, however, it announced that ampm would become the national image.

But in mid-2012, BP pulled the plug on the franchise in markets east of the Rockies.

"Ampm didn't really work east of the Rockies," a Midwest retailer told CSP Daily News at the time; BP declined to comment.

"Ampm originated on the West Coast with ARCO, a low-cost leader in fuel. It was geared toward that type of customer. East of the Rockies, BP is a premium brand," the retailer said. "The POS [point of sale] clearly never worked from the start. The promotional calendar didn't work well. It was a combination of a discount c-store brand with a premium fuel. It didn't work."

Now, following a successful pilot by Parent Petroleum Inc. at three stations in 2013, BP has launched the new "to go" image.

"'To go' is just for east of Rockies sites," BP spokesperson Scott Dean told CSP Daily News. "We anticipate that the 'to go' retail image will be a good fit for former ampm [c-stores], and they are a key target where we are pushing to upgrade the image; however the image is intended to provide a solution for many different formats--ampm, BP Shops and sites with no convenience image."

The new retail image package includes a variety of elements to suit various c-store layouts, building exteriors and price sign (also known as MID displays). These elements are designed to blend seamlessly with existing BP brand designs and are flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of small- and large-format sites.

"When the need for a fresh, flexible and affordable retail image was identified, we collaborated with our branded marketers to create the 'to go' retail image," said Amy Abraham, vice president marketing and communications for BP. "Every site is different in layout and service offerings, so 'to go' offers our branded marketers the option to select from a variety of elements to fit their needs, while enhancing the overall retail experience."

London-based BP, with U.S. headquarters in La Palma, Calif. (West), and Warrenville, Ill. (East), markets more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline every year to U.S. consumers through more than 11,000 BP- and ARCO-branded retail outlets.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers