Alon's Fina Chapter Coming to End

Begins rebranding stations to Alon as name rights expire

Published in CSP Daily News

DALLAS -- Alon Brands Inc. began the rebranding earlier this month of its gasoline at its 7-Eleven stores in West Texas and New Mexico, reported the Midland Reporter-Telegram. While the name will change from Fina to Alon, the curved red, white and blue stripes will remain the same, Kyle McKeen, president and CEO of Alon Brands, told the newspaper.

The first 7-Eleven stores to receive the Alon brand were in Midland and Odessa, said the report.

After assessing feedback from employees and customers at those locations, Alon began to roll out the larger-scale changeover earlier this month. It expects to have Midland, Odessa and Big Spring stores completed soon, with a goal of finishing all stores by this summer.

Once the conversion process ramps up, crews will be changing signage on three to four stores per day, said the report.

Alon USA bought the Fina refinery in Big Spring from France's Total in 2000, and along with that the rights to the Fina name for a certain number of years. As Alon executives saw their rights to the Fina name coming to an end, they had to decide whether to negotiate a continuation or to make their own brand.

"Given what we had achieved, and the different approach we were taking to the consumer, we decided that the best all-around option that we had was to go ahead and change the name," McKeen told the paper. Total is discontinuing the Fina brand internationally anyway, he added.

They also saw that the company as a whole was almost completely focused on the manufacturing and refining, to the exclusion of marketing. As a result of this realization, Alon formed Alon Brands to focus on retail operations.

"We started focusing on serving the customer," McKeen said. "We started programs inside and outside the store and we raised the bar as far as the requirements for service and cleanliness at all our roughly 1,000 Fina locations."

Part of the goal was to make the retail arm profitable on its own, separately from the refining operations, said the report.

The corporate office for 7-Eleven is getting more aggressive with its own franchisee programs, which McKeen said is dovetailing nicely with Alon's efforts.

Alon's 7-Elevens are also adding foodservice and upgrading the stores' coffee bars, the report said.

"The coffee program has gone from the old pot to urns, with better holding time and better flavor and presentation," Jonathan Ketchum, operations lead for Alon Brands-Retail, told Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Alon Brands has remodeled most of the stores in Midland, Odessa and Big Spring, with remodels of the remaining owned and operated stores set to coincide with sign changes, the report said. Upgrades include painting inside and out, improved lighting, landscaping and other improvements, Ketchum said.

Alon Brands is the retail and branded marketing subsidiary of Dallas-based Alon USA Energy Inc., an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products operating primarily in the western and south central regions of the United States. Through Alon Brands, it operates more than 300 7-Eleven convenience stores in central and west Texas and New Mexico and markets and supplies FINA motor fuels to more than 900 independent and company-owned retail locations. Alon Brands is the largest licensee of 7-Eleven in the United States.

Alon Brands includes retail arms Southwest Convenience Stores LLC and Skinny's LLC, as well as Alon Marketing and SCS Beverage Inc.