Forecourt retailers should club together to extract greater value from their supply deals, urged Graham Sims, BP's erstwhile UK retail director in a colourful and rousing speech at the inaugural 'Top 50 Indies' dinner held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham last month.

Stand by your pumps

06 April, 2006
So you think you're a top retailer? Then get your pens and cameras out now and start filling in the forms and taking the pictures that will put you in the running for the top award in the petrol retailing industry - Forecourt Trader of the Year.

The frozen ones

06 April, 2006
With Easter said to mark the start of the ice cream season, forecourt retailers should already be making sure their freezers are fully stocked and looking spick and span. In this trading sector children aren't the main customers so forecourts can benefit from the popularity of higher-margin premium products that are specifically aimed at adults.

Footie fever

06 April, 2006
According to the bookies, England is second favourite to win the World Cup, after Brazil. It would be great if they won but even if they don't, you could win during this massive tournament. That's because of the UK's insatiable appetite for everything football. Up and down the country there will be millions of armchair fans screaming at their TV sets willing the players on. And of course they'll need to keep their energy up so they'll need snacks and plenty of beer to wash them all down. If you've got an off licence, the World Cup is an ideal opportunity to promote it. Make sure your customers know you're licensed to sell beer. And make sure you've got plenty of chilled, take-home packs in stock prior to kick-off.

Morning stars

06 April, 2006
Ask 20 different people what they have for breakfast and chances are you'll get 20 different answers. And that's because a lot of us don't get time for a sit-down breakfast in the mornings and instead have to opt for breakfast on the run. So that breakfast could be a banana, a cereal bar, or even a sandwich. Obviously all this is good news for forecourt stores as consumers grab something convenient on their way into work.
A call to all independent retailers to stand together and fight the march of the supermarkets was made by Mark Wilson (pictured) group operations manager at the Fraser Group, in a Forecourt Live! lunchtime session at the IFFE show.
The hunt is on for the next recipient of the industry's most prestigious award - Forecourt Trader of the Year 2006. The awards are now 10 years old and continue to recognise the hard work and skills of petrol retailers nationwide, highlighting those who have displayed high standards of professionalism in a fiercely competitive sector. As well as looking for the best overall sites, there are also a number of specialist categories to enter. Finalists will be invited to the awards dinner at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel, London, on Thursday, September 21.
The impending drought could spell a difficult summer for sites with car wash facilities. Hose pipe bans are now in force over most of the south east and some water companies have already applied for further restrictions, which could put a halt to what is a valuable profit-driver.
A man who tried to set fire to a petrol pump with a cigarette lighter has been jailed for three years.
Just two per cent of retailers are ready for the new legislation that will outlaw age discrimination, according to a study by the Age Partnership Group.

In brief

06 April, 2006
The Energy Institute's latest figures confirm that the number of operational forecourts dropped to 9,764 by the end of 2005 - a loss of 587 sites over the year. The UK Retail Marketing Survey 2006 also reveals that petrol sales declined by 2.9% last year. Diesel sales showed strong growth, with sales up by 13.7%.

Be seen to be green

06 April, 2006
The pressure on fuel retailers to open their eyes to alternative fuels was squeezed a little harder last month when Morrisons announced the opening of the UK's first bioethanol E85 fuel pump. The launch, on Morrisons' site in Albion Way, Norwich, was timed to coincide with the first deliveries of the Saab 9-5 BioPower flex-fuel car, officially launched last November.
Travelling from Worthing to Brighton, on the A27 just past Sompting, I made a stealthcheck on a Your Store Esso site. The forecourt is only some 50 metres off the A27 but it is very much a neighbourhood site.
Maybe it's a sign of growing old, but do you ever get the feeling that Budgets ain't what they used to be? Remember how we all used to sit around the radio on the afternoon of each Budget Day and wait anxiously to hear how much the then-Chancellor (of whatever political hue) was about to add to fuel, tobacco and booze prices; got ready for the huge queues of customers crowding onto the forecourt by late afternoon to fill up their tanks and stock up with fags before the dreaded 6pm increases came into effect everywhere simultaneously, and sat back counting your windfall profits if you'd been lucky enough to stock up the site in the preceding few days? Well, in case you missed it, the Chancellor delivered another 'Budget', of sorts, on March 22. That was his tenth on the trot and each one less immediately memorable than the last. With each passing year we have had to dig ever deeper into the myriad of Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs press releases to try and find what changes have actually been 'announced'. There are a couple again this year, but they're not likely to result in a sharp intake of breath from most petrol retailers.
SAXON INVASION

High octane performance

06 April, 2006
The return of the International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment (IFFE) exhibition as an annual event was heralded a success, as thousands of visitors went to the NEC, Birmingham for the four-day event. The queues were already forming when Susie Hawkins, Forecourt Trader of the Year 2005, opened IFFE 2006 on the Sunday morning. Daren Rose-Neale, IFFE sales manager, said: "The show was very busy, and visitors had the opportunity to source new products and business solutions from a vast array of major manufacturers. The initial feedback from visitors and exhibitors is very encouraging."

Showing off

06 April, 2006
If you want to catch up with what's happening in the food and drink market then you should head to the Telford International Centre in Shropshire on April 25-27 to attend Palmer & Harvey McLane's Pro-retail show. All the big names will be there including Cadbury Trebor Bassett, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Kellogg's, Nestlé and United Biscuits. Other big brand manufacturers due to attend include Walkers Snacks, Masterfoods, Wrigley, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher. Specific forecourt suppliers attending include Maccess, Convenience Distribution Group and Flowerfete.

The brand plan

06 April, 2006
As profits from fuel have steadily decreased, oil companies and independent fuel retailers alike have increasingly sought to boost their businesses by focusing on the forecourt shop.

Exel secures supplies

06 April, 2006
Exel, the supply chain management company, is using Secureseal tamper-proof seals on the trailers it uses to deliver goods to 365 BP forecourt stores.

Orange bonus

06 April, 2006
Retailers with PayPoint look set to benefit from extra mobile top-up sales when Orange launches new content packs that are only available on e-voucher.
The new MicroTherma 5K recording thermometer is a microprocessor-based instrument that's been designed so it never needs re-calibrating. Electronic Temperature Instruments (ETI) has developed the user-friendly tool to store and recall up to 20 temperature readings on demand. The recording feature means retailers can collect food temperature data without the need for pen and paper. ETI reckons it's ideal for due diligence and health and safety procedures.

Raid gets recognised

06 April, 2006
The Raid-control crime prevention initiative has been recognised as an example of best practice by the Association of Chief Police Officers' Gun Crime Prevention Manual, for its success in reducing robberies.

UB's mini marvels

06 April, 2006
United Biscuits UK (UBUK) has launched Mini Cheddars Morso's in 150g bags, aimed at the adult sharing market. Available in three flavours, Morsos are bite-sized cheese biscuits with a light and flaky texture, topped with cheese sprinkles.

Panda bears fruit

06 April, 2006
Vimto Soft Drinks is re-launching its Panda brand, which it acquired from Hall & Woodhouse last year. Following an extensive review, the brand has been stripped back to basics and reconstructed in line with changing consumer demands. The packaging has been redesigned and the drinks will boast real fruit juice, no artificial colours or flavours and no added sugar.

Blueberries join Ribena

06 April, 2006
Ribena has added a blueberry variant to its Really Light range.

Pub grub at home

06 April, 2006
Birds Eye has launched a new range of frozen ready meals based on traditional pub grub. Available this month, the Pub Special range includes gastro-style dishes such as Cumberland meatballs with apple & sage mash and scrumpy glazed chicken breast with hotpot potatoes.

Egg hatches new bar

06 April, 2006
Cadbury Trebor Basset is launching its iconic Creme Egg brand in a new bar format which will be available all year round. Cadbury Dairy Milk with Creme Egg combines the 'goo' filling from Creme Egg with a Dairy Milk chocolate coating.

Belgian block comes to UK

06 April, 2006
Kraft Foods has announced the UK launch of premium chocolate range Cote d'Or - a brand that is already well-established in Belgium.

Double refreshment

06 April, 2006
New from Coca-Cola Enterprises is Oasis Fusion, a range of still water and fruit juice drinks, which have no added sugar and are aimed at women. There are two contemporary flavour combinations: passion fruit & vanilla and fusion berry & elderflower. The launch has £3m-worth of marketing support including sampling.

More appealing

06 April, 2006
Pot Noodle, the iconic snack brand from Unilever UK Foods, is being relaunched with a £10m marketing spend to reposition it to appeal to a wider audience.
SO WHAT DID YOU THINK of the show, then? Now okay, as far as the equipment side goes this was the 'intermediate' year in the two-year cycle so I wasn't expecting a massive turnout from the suppliers. So I wasn't disappointed! Having said that, those suppliers who did attend put on a pretty decent effort and there were a few new ideas to seek out.

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About the Forecourt Trader Group
Forecourt Trader continues to maintain its market-leading position as the major source of information for the petrol-retailing sector.

Targeted at independent retailers, all those connected to the industry seek out Forecourt Trader (magazine and website) for its strong mix of news, industry and retailer profiles, as well as scheduled features that cover all categories of a service station operation at length, on both the forecourt and shop side of the business. ...more »

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