Lighting the Way for Circle K’s Irish Expansion

Petrol station environments present a unique set of challenges to sign makers. They tend to require bright, vivid signage that’s illuminated at all hours of the day and night. They also often stand apart from other buildings and commerce, exposed to the elements from all sides. To complicate matters further, they are also more likely to register higher levels of air pollution such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and other particulates which can combine with moisture to damage any electronics and lights housed within the sign. A sign’s brightness dims and looks patchy, and colours can shift away from the specification set by the brand. The result can be a petrol station forecourt that looks old before its time, making it less attractive to passing motorists and hurting the balance sheet.

When Canadian convenience store chain Circle K purchased the Topaz network of petrol stations in Ireland, the company knew that it had to rebrand all 420 sites with an array of illuminated signage that would stand the test of time. The company therefore invited a select group of sign makers to tender for a high-quality specification set by the network’s European partner.

Irish Prestige Signs, working closely with its long-term partners, Current and Lightsign, knew it could improve on the high standard set by Circle K in Europe. Eamonn O’Shea, Director of Irish Prestige Signs, noted, “The benchmark set by the global specification was already high and the sites we visited in Europe were impressive. However, we knew that we could exceed that level of quality and still offer the client long-term savings over the lifespan of the signage, which would tick the boxes for the CFO and boost sustainability scores.”

Circle K Signage

Doing More with Less to Exceed Client Expectations

Working closely as one team, Irish Prestige Signs, Lightsign and Current analysed the needs of Circle K and explored various lighting options for a range of signage, from channel letters and canopy contours to pylons and main identifier signs (MIDs). Given the challenging environmental conditions often experienced by petrol stations, the team quickly decided that Current’s range of high-efficiency 24V Tetra® LED solutions would best meet the needs of the project.

Current’s 24V Tetra LED modules are engineered for premium performance and long-term energy efficacy, shining brighter than most 12V modules at up to 160 lumens/watt. In addition, the 24V range features Current’s advanced OptiLens X technology, offering a further layer of protection against the elements and the corrosive combination of SO2 and moisture within the sign. OptiLens X ensures that every LED shines brighter for longer, with minimal colour shift. The light emitted is distributed across a wide 170-degree* angle, providing perfectly uniform illumination of the sign face with fewer modules.

By achieving the same quality of illumination with fewer modules and fewer associated power supplies, the new specification would be faster to build and install, with fewer potential points of failure requiring maintenance or replacement throughout the lifetime of the sign. The higher build quality of the 24V Tetra modules and Current’s five-year warranty also provided reassurance that the signs would comfortably exceed the ten-year useful lifespan stipulated by Circle K. At end of life, fewer modules will require disposal, reducing the burden on landfill and supporting Circle K’s wider corporate sustainability targets.

Seeing Is Believing

Convincing the customer that fewer high-performance modules could not only save them money over the lifetime of the signs but more importantly, meet the high quality standards set by the tender, was a big ask. In order to prove that Current’s 24V modules could indeed achieve the same quality of illumination as the European specification, the team created a mock-up of a fully illuminated section of the proposed forecourt canopy featuring a set of channel letters. This allowed Circle K to verify Irish Prestige Signs’ claims of light output, build quality and energy efficacy independently, proving conclusively that the proposed specification surpassed the brand requirements and offered additional financial and environmental value.

Circle K Canopy


Delivering on the Promise

Once the green light was given, Irish Prestige Signs had to work quickly and methodically in order to turn the 420 blue and green Topaz petrol stations a vibrant Circle K red within the agreed twelve-month timeframe. “We planned it incredibly carefully with Lightsign and Current to forecast all the necessary materials, components and build-time,” says Eamonn O’Shea. At its peak, Circle K branding was taking over 11 different petrol stations per week, with distribution managed by Lightsign in close partnership with the team at Current.

Circle K Canopy image


David O’Sheehan, MD Lightsign explains, “Signage is still very much a relationship industry. Our customers rely on us not only to manage stock against highly sensitive deadlines during projects, but they also want to work with us because we can connect them with the right suppliers and the latest innovation. We’ve worked with Current for more than 16 years and Irish Prestige Signs for over a decade, so when it comes to projects like this, we’re a well-oiled machine.”

In total, Irish Prestige Signs deployed 200,000 Tetra LED modules across the 420 sites, illuminating an incredible 5,500 signs ranging from MIDs and pylons to channel letters and fully illuminated canopies.

The rebrand was completed ahead of the deadline and within budget. “Circle K trusted us to improve on their specification for signage in Ireland so it made perfect sense for us to work with our own trusted partners to deliver the best possible results for them,” adds O’Shea. “Working with Lightsign and Current gives us the confidence to offer our customers the highest-quality lighting innovation, whilst also helping them meet their sustainability obligations and cutting costs with rebranding programmes that are delivered on time and to budget.”

To learn more about redesigning signage for efficiency and brand awareness, contact Current today.

Distributor in Ireland: Lightsign

Sign maker: Irish Prestige Signs

* Note: OptiLens X viewing angle for Tetra MS product is 165°

To learn more about how brand signage impacts the bottom line, download Current's latest whitepaper: Following the Signs: Brand and the Bottom Line.