Argentinean Company’s Award-Winning Concept Focuses on Creating a Genuine Cafe Experience
AXION energy Argentina, headquartered in Buenos Aires, is rolling out a new and distinctive convenience store design created by CBX, the brand agency and retail design consultancy based here. The design just took first place honors in the convenience store category in VMSD magazine’s annual Retail Renovation Competition, published in September.
CBX’s creation of AXION’s Spot! Café concept marked a departure from the usual c-store development process. Recognizing the strong European cultural and social influence in Argentina, CBX decided to make an authentic café experience the main focus of the shop, with the convenience retail component secondary.
“During our research, we discovered that one aspect of the European influence in Argentina is the common practice of socializing over a cup of coffee or espresso a number of times a day,” explained Joseph Bona, CBX president of branded environments. “We also found that many of the country’s convenience stores have seating areas and people often go to them to have their cup of espresso and then go on their way, without buying any food.”
As a result, the CBX approach changed the focus of the shop. “We felt there was an opportunity for the client to differentiate itself by making the shop not a typical c-store selling food and coffee, but instead creating a modern, state-of-the-art café that also offers an assortment of convenience products. So, the project really became all about creating a genuine café experience.”
AXION energy is a subsidiary of Bridas Corp., which acquired the assets of Esso Petrolra Argentina, the fuel distribution and retail subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp., in 2012. The company operates 700 fuel centers in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. In the wake of the acquisition, along with its new identity, the company created a striking, ultra-contemporary forecourt design that CBX used as part of its inspiration in designing the shop.
CBX created a retail brand identity for the shop with a high-impact sense of place. Both the exterior and interior designs for Spot! Café leverage the bright, cheerful color palette of the AXION forecourt, while the floor-to-ceiling glass storefront showcases what awaits the customer inside.
“We took a number of cues from the AXION brand design,” Bona, a veteran c-store designer, elaborated. “In addition to the colors, we took one leg of the “X” logo symbol of Axion and converted it into an architectural detail that highlights the store entrance.”
In order to establish the primacy of the café experience, the layout separates the store and café as distinct sectors. Communal tables and outdoor patio seating help reinforce a sense of community and compliment the traditional café seating, which also includes club chairs. Digital menu boards, meanwhile, not only allow easy time-of-day menu changes but also underline the high-tech modern design throughout.
The flagship prototype facility debuted in October 2014 on Avenida Del Libertador y Salguero in Buenos Aires and the company had opened 15 additional locations in Argentina by mid-August. According to the company, sales at the flagship store were up 12% in the first nine months of operation, while gross profit grew an impressive 23%.
“We had to have a specific solution for the modern convenience store shopper, and we wanted to build the best breakfast experience in town,” says Claudio Freue, Marketing Director, AXION energy. “The selection of products was chosen carefully, placing special emphasis on providing our shoppers with healthy options.”
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