A legendary Australian brand is back in business.
More than 99 per cent of shareholders at Caltex Australia’s annual general meeting on Thursday approved renaming the company Ampol, the name of one of its predecessor companies that operated for decades in Australia.
“It’s a brand that has been around for 80 years, and it’s a brand that customers trust, customers remember,” interim chief executive Matt Halliday said.
“We think it stands for high-quality products and a very very deep connection to Australian communities and the Australian economy.””
The first Ampol sites will appear in Sydney and Melbourne in the fourth quarter of this year, with a national rollout in 2021.
The company also unveiled a new logo using Ampol’s original red and blue bands, with a new leaning “A” that it said symbolises its “forward momentum with the striking and simple symbol to be a beacon for customers when on the road”.
The transition from Caltex to Ampol will be complete by the end of 2022.
Ampol was founded by Sir William Gaston Walkley as the Australian Motorists Petrol Company (AMP) on 23 March 1936, back when the country was emerging from the Great Depression and petrol was selling for 17 cents a gallon.
There were other oil companies in Australia at the time, but AMP was the first that the Australian public could buy shares in.
It listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 1948 and changed its name to Ampol Petroleum Ltd in 1949.
The company was well known for its sponsorships, establishing the Ampol Golf Tournament in 1947, an Australian TV series called Hunter, a ride at the old Wonderland theme park in Sydney and the first TV coverage of the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956.
In 1965 it built the Lytton Refinery in Brisbane, giving Australia its first wholly-owned and-operated processing facility, which is still a major part of the company’s operations.
It played up its status as an Australian company competing with international oil majors with famous “As Australian as Ampol” marketing campaign, and even produced a contender for Australia’s national anthem written to the tune of Waltzing Matilda featuring songwriter Jack O’Hagan’s God Bless Australia lyrics.
In 1988 it was acquired by Pioneer International, now known as concrete company Hanson Australia.
The following year Pioneer bought Solo Oil, which at the time was Australia’s largest independent distributor and retailer of petroleum products.
In 1995 the company merged with Caltex to form Australian Petroleum Pty, which in 1997 was renamed Caltex Australia.
It was half-owned by Chevron and half by ASX shareholders until 2015, when Chevron sold its half interest.
In December, Chevron gave notice that it would terminate the licence agreement for use of the Caltex brand in Australia.
Mr Halliday said the company looked at other names but Ampol stood out as one that consumers – even younger consumers – remembered and trusted.
He said the new name was a “huge opportunity for us” and one that better represents the refiner-marketer as an independent Australian company.
“It’s bringing back a much-loved Australian fuel brand.”