After one of the biggest consumer surveys in the past decade Shell's New Zealand owners have ditched the global brand and gone to the end of the alphabet and will rebrand its service stations Z Energy.

Work on switching 226 service stations to Z (pronounced Zed) will begin next month in Auckland.

Shell's service stations and other assets were bought last year by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Wellington-based infrastructure company Infratil through Greenstone Energy for $695 million.

Greenstone's chief executive Mike Bennetts said research showed demand for a distinctly Kiwi identity.

"Z is the first letter of the last word of the country to which our business is solely committed," he said.

"The Z brand will provide a visual point of difference and customers will know they're supporting a Kiwi company."

Bennetts said being a Kiwi company was not enough and while the new name and new look would be the most obvious change, Z was aiming to improve service and food and beverages at stations.

"The new brand represents visually what will be a complete overhaul of our customer offer."

Greenstone has been working hard to develop new "cafe quality" food and coffee in its stations.

The company had not opted for sit down cafes but has ditched Australian pie suppliers and will sell pies made in Hawkes Bay and sell cupcakes.

For those who want it, there will be personal service on the forecourt.

Margins on fuel are slim for Greenstone - around 2c a litre - and improving its food is seen as an opportunity for improving profitability.

Bennetts said 17,000 consumers were suveyed in what was the biggest piece of industry-specific consumer research in a decade.

The rebranding exercise would be one of the biggest and most visible rebranding exercises in recent New Zealand history.

Greenstone had a two-year lease of the century-old Shell logo, for a hefty fee it had the right to renew.

"The Z brand will provide a visual point of difference and customers will know they're supporting a Kiwi company."

Bennetts said Z was short, sharp and to the point.

"It reflects our national identity and our commitment to New Zealand. To us, Z is all about New Zealand."

The name has to be distinctive, was it easy to spell and pronounce and in testing the name that continually kept winning on all attributes was Z.

The new logo deliberately represents the infinity symbol which "celebrates the millions of journeys New Zealanders take every day."

Shell's stations attract 65 million customers a year and has about a third of the retail fuel market here.

There would be 10 pilot stations rolled out from next month across the country.

If this all went to plan there would be a full brand rollout from October 2011, to be finished by the end of June next year.