Kwik Chek CEO Kevin Smartt Discusses Decision to Rebrand
SPICEWOOD, Texas — Kwik Chek Food Stores will soon be known as TXB (Texas Born) stores. A chainwide rebranding is now underway, starting with a handful of the retailer’s 47-plus locations across Texas and Oklahoma. However, the idea to create the TXB banner actually dates all the way back to 2001.
The brainchild of Kwik Chek CEO Kevin Smartt and his partner, TXB is a modern Texas concept — think Whole Foods meets Hill Country — that the duo began theorizing in 2001, drawing from a conversation and an idea. About six years later, they conceptualized elements of a model before halting its production. Conversations picked back up again last year and the pair decided it was the right time to bring TXB to fruition.
"TXB, or Texas Born, is who we are," Smartt told Convenience Store News in a recent interview. "We were both born and raised in Texas and wanted something that captured the spirit of what we wanted to represent to our customers."
Two existing Kwik Chek locations in Lake Buchanan and Three Rivers, Texas, are currently being rebranded, with plans to reopen by mid-2021. All 47 existing Kwik Chek stores are slated to be rebranded to TXB over the next three years, with several more stores beginning the process by the end of 2020. In addition, two brand-new TXB stores are currently under construction in Georgetown and Bee Cave, Texas, with a third new-build location soon to come in Cottonwood Shores, Texas.
"After 18 years, we really felt like it was time to examine our company, our values and the things that drive us, and we came up with a rebrand that is truly in line with who we are," said Smartt. "We value hospitality, authenticity and integrity. This company was born and raised in the great state of Texas and, quite simply, there's nothing that could capture our message and our roots better than the TXB brand."
Moving forward with the rebranding has not come without challenges. As Smartt explained, one of the key factors in determining the trajectory of this chainwide initiative was deciding what should come first — a heavily loaded question.
"Are you going to do one site individually at a time and everything inside that box gets completely redone, or do you start doing little changes before it gets to the larger, overall picture?" Smartt posed. "In other words, do you let fountain cups come out prior to letting the store get an entirely new image? What about employee uniforms, menuboards, and so on?"
The retailer opted for a combination of the two approaches, with new builds across the state of Texas sporting the new banner, and TXB branding also making its appearance in existing Kwik Chek stores via print and digital menuboards and cappuccino machines; TXB branded fountain cups are soon to follow.
By the end of November, all new promotional signage will be TXB branded, according to Smartt. Additionally, all stores currently have two sizes of TXB bottled water available for purchase, and TXB jerky will be available by the end of this year.
The company attempted to keep the rebrand under lock and key, but the chief executive noted that once they started changing the smaller items such as cups, associate uniforms and point-of-sale signs, the team was amped up for the project and ready to take it on fully. The retailer made an official announcement of the rebranding on Oct. 2.
"We tried to keep the rebrand quiet, but as those minor changes started being made, we had to make it official across the whole company," the CEO said.
One key element that will set the TXB banner apart from Kwik Chek is its merchandising strategy. Smartt shared with CSNews that they plan to seek out artisans who are looking for a way to get their products into the retail channel and carry many locally produced goods in the stores, further driving home the Texas Born vision.
There will be two tenets, however, that do remain the same. The first is the retailer's creed. Paying homage to a Texas slang adage, Kwik Chek's mission is to "Leave 'em better," which encompasses its customers, employees and communities.
"That will still be important for TXB because the organization believes in being good neighbors in our communities, being good hosts to guests, and being good stewards to our employees," Smartt told CSNews.
The second lasting tenet will be a focus on enhanced offerings, including fresh food. Kwik Chek currently offers more than 4,000 items, including fresh-made food, cold drinks and grab-and-go snacks. TXB stores will offer a line of private-label products including jerky, trail mix, water, coffee and more.
"I am excited to be rebranding my company, as well as be a part of an industry that will help redefine retail," Smartt said.