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Corner Store Is Reborn


Corner Store convenience stores are embarking on an era of change.

As part of parent company CST Brands Inc.’s 2020 strategic plan, the Corner Store brand is getting an overhaul starting in its hometown of San Antonio and spreading outward. The new initiative focuses on growth in food choices and in-store sales.

Given the increase in fuel efficiency in the automotive fleet these days, people are stopping less to refuel. In spite of this, CST still wants Corner Store customers to come into the store every day, Kim Lubel, CST’s chairman, president and CEO, told Convenience Store News.

“Fuel is essential to our business, but behind this rebranding strategy is a move to make our stores — not our fuel — the chief customer driver,” she explained. “Over the next five years, as we plan on building hundreds of stores, we want customers across the country to cheer when a Corner Store opens in their neighborhood. They will know what we stand for and why they want to shop with us.”


The first step in CST’s 2020 strategic plan is to rebrand and reimage both its new-to-industry stores and its legacy stores with a new Corner Store logo and new brand promise of “Simply Fresh. Always Friendly.” In addition, its larger-format stores that offer more extensive fresh food and grocery selections will do business now as Corner Store Markets.

“Our brand promise will come to life across our network,” Lubel told CSNews.

The decision to rebrand Corner Store was not a hasty one. CST began an extensive process nearly two years ago, shortly after it became an independent company spun off from Valero Energy Corp. CST talked to customers to gather their perceptions and insights on its 1,000-plus U.S. stores, and then conducted several focus groups and roundtables.

The research showed Corner Store had little identity outside of the branded fuel it sold, the same fuel sold by other operators as well, according to Lubel.

“However, the research also told us that once our customers visited our stores, they wanted to come back more often to our stores than our competitors,” she shared. “That was exciting, and we recognized that we needed to build around that finding and make sure customers could distinguish Corner Store from other similarly branded fuel operators and also fully know what Corner Store offers.”

The rebrand of Corner Store is rooted in CST’s core values — Servant Leadership, Strategic Thinking, Entrepreneurial Spirit and Innovation — in every way, Lubel noted. “The work is innovative, took strategic thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit. And the ‘Simply Fresh. Always Friendly.’ promise fits perfectly with the value of servant leadership,” she said.


Over the past year, CST worked with Prophet, a global brand and marketing consultancy, to create a uniform banner for Corner Store locations. Vibrant colors, a new logo, fun signage and a refreshed, clean appearance show off the new side of Corner Store’s personality.

“We also made the store layout simpler to meet the needs of our on-the-go customers,” Lubel pointed out. “The look is refreshing, neighborly and in touch with the modern consumer looking for convenience and quality.”

Based on this new architecture, signage and packaging, the Prophet team and CST collaborated to come up with a service promise that would most accurately describe what the brand wanted to deliver to its customers. They arrived at “Simply Fresh. Always Friendly.”

“We decided those four words perfectly captured who we are and who we aspire to be,” Lubel told CSNews, adding that CST believes “fresh” applies to more than just food.

“Fresh is an attitude in the way the whole environment looks in the store. When the store looks and feels fresh, the customer is more apt to try the food choices,” the chief executive further explained. “Friendly means we treat our customers as neighbors; they are always greeted with a smile and warm welcome. Our research showed us that our friendly manner was the No. 1 reason our customers returned to Corner Stores. Simple is part of our DNA as a convenience store: We know our customers want to get in and out quickly. Our new large-format stores allow them to easily find what they need and get on their way.”

Although CST ideally hopes to reach all demographics with its newly rebranded Corner Stores, its research showed millennial customers are among the most frequent and most loyal spenders inside the stores. And so, the retailer wants to meet and anticipate millennial needs.

“We believe our focus on fresh, friendly and simple, as well as having convenient choices for meals on the go, appeals to that audience,” Lubel said.

The new Corner Store — as a benefit of CST’s 2014 acquisition of New York-based Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes — has imported Nice N Easy’s popular made-to-order food program to Texas. The new Corner Store Market format features such menu items as pizza, sandwiches, soups and salads. Customers also find Corner Store’s already-popular kolaches, tacos and whoopie pies. The Corner Store Market logo is featured on all fresh, perishable products including coffee.


CST unveiled its first Corner Store Market built from the ground up in North San Antonio in November and the company expected to have three more rebranded Corner Store Markets open by the end of 2015, with a fifth store opened in January.

The goal for this year is have all of its San Antonio Corner Stores rebranded by the end of 2016, according to Lubel. From there, the overhaul will continue into other markets. Within three years, the retailer anticipates the entire Corner Store network will be completed.

At the same time, CST plans to keep expanding its current network of more than 1,000 stores across the United States (it also operates in Canada) through new store builds and strategic acquisitions that add value. Case in point: The company earlier this month acquired the 164-store Flash Foods chain that operates in Georgia and Florida.

“We learn so much from the chains that have been brought to our network and we actively seek to acquire chains — such as our recent acquisition of Flash Foods — from which we can learn,” Lubel said.

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