Its great to see the petrol retailing community getting a few campaigns together and defending their territory. Its about time. First off the Garagewatch campaign to encourage more post offices to be sited on forecourts, rather than lose them forever.
Garage Watch Campaign (GWC) is stepping up its drive to get more post offices put in forecourt stores. The news comes as the government is about to close 2,500 post offices. Apparently losses from these outlets are running at £4m a week.
Twenty-eight-year-old Nick Brown is a man with a plan, and that plan is to win the Global Convenience Industry Achievement Award when he goes to NACS in Atlanta, Georgia in the autumn.
Buying what they want, when they want it, is top of customers' shopping lists - but still many of them don't manage this simplest of tasks. According to research company HIM's latest survey of 30,000 people, 7% failed to make a purchase during their visit to a c-store or forecourt, compared with 5% last year.
A friendly welcome, a bit of banter and some sound purchasing advice are all part of the offer at Chaddlewood Garage in the Plympton area of Plymouth.
In 2006 adult smokers spent just over £13bn on cigarettes, cigars, RYO tobacco, lighters and other accessories - and a lot of that money went through forecourt tills. Cigarettes is, of course, by far the biggest part of the market - worth £11.34bn in retail sales. And forecourts take an 11.8% share of those sales. Iain Watkins, trade communications manager at Imperial Tobacco, comments: "The number of forecourts is in decline yet they still account for one in every eight packs of cigarettes sold. That's pretty impressive."
We're all consumers so we all know how easy it is to get fed up with certain sandwiches or snacks. Sometimes we need a change. So imagine, for a moment, being a regular lunchtime shopper in your forecourt store. You visit two or three times a week to pick up a sandwich, some crisps and a drink. What sort of choice do you have? Has it been the same old selection of BLT, chicken salad or prawn on offer for the past few months or have there been any new additions? You can see where this is heading. The consumer gets cheesed off with cheese & pickle and heads elsewhere to spend his five quid or more on his lunch.
Forecourt Trader of the Year 2006 winner, Westbridge Motors, has sold its filling station and shop to Spar retailer Tates on a leasehold deal.
A Yorkshire retailer has slammed the Daily Express for publishing a story accusing forecourts of charging rip-off petrol prices. Tony Boorman of Tyke 2000 in Malton, North Yorkshire, was so incensed by what he read that he rang the paper and spoke directly to the journalist responsible.
The supermarkets' share of petrol sales rose to 40.6% last year, while their share of diesel sales increased to 33%.
The UK must continue investing in its refineries in order to balance fuel supply, says UKPIA, the trade association which represents the nine main oil refining companies.
Londis retailer Brian Charlton has responded to customer demand by using extra space in his forecourt store for more local lines. His shop, in Middleton, North Yorkshire, burned down in November 2005 but was rebuilt then re-opened at Easter this year. The new store was given the Londis treatment - taking it to Genesis standard - and includes 400sq ft of extra selling space.
Anglian Regional Co-op has rolled out HTEC's petrol retailing solution to all 12 of its Shell- branded forecourts. The system includes HydraPOS with its touchscreen operation, resilient site controller and integrated Chip & PIN card payment.
This time last year the south east of England was in the grip of drought orders, with many petrol retailers fearing their car washes would be shut down - with dire consequences to their business.
I try not to refuel at motorway service stations - I only use them as rest stops. But I needed fuel so stopped at the motorway service area at junction 4 on the M54.
The Database figures from March have produced some quite extraordinary results. Take the fuel volume for instance - close to 453,000ltrs, or almost 10% up on the previous year.
== Water, water everywhere ==
BP Retail aims to speed up transaction times at its service stations with the installation of new software at the tills.
Customers can charge their mobile in minutes while filling up, by using a new supercharger.
PSD-Codax has come up with a flexible solution for rewarding loyal customers and driving carwash use. Its new Codax Smart Card can be used for multibuys, wash clubs and loyalty promotions.
Fairbanks is providing real-time wet stock management for about half of the Malthurst Group's UK network using the new generation Ibank service. Fairbanks managing director, Steve Jones, said: "We'll be utilising our years of experience integrating with a wide range of on-site equipment from Indigo, Torex, Vbi and H-Tec to achieve our aim of helping the company minimise fuel losses across the network."
Procter & Gamble believes it's cracked the 'better for you' snacking market with its new Pringles Rice Infusions.
United Biscuits is launching Multigrain Hula Hoops - made from a combination of rice flour, maize flour and wheat bran. The company says they are the ideal snack for hungry consumers looking for a healthier alternative.
New Maynards Wine Gums Light contain half the sugar and 30% fewer calories than standard gums.
BP has added a chicken caesar flavour to its successful Wild Bean Café wraps range.
Three new flavours have joined the PJ's Smoothies range: look sharp; rainforest acai; and black & blue. In addition 'what a night' has replaced 'daily detox' and 'energy boost' now has added yerbe mate.
Kellogg's is simplifying its range for the convenience sector. The core range of snacks and cereals will include popular lines like Special K, innovative products such as Optivita and indulgence items like Crunchy Nut peanut crisp bars.
Britvic has removed all artificial flavours and colours from Tango. In addition, the range has been extended to include a new citrus flavour plus there's a new bottle shape and pack design.
Lucozade Sport, which saw 33% sales growth last year according to AC Nielsen figures, looks set to receive a further lift thanks to the launch of a new Caffeine Boost variant.
Red Bull giveaway
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is launching what is being described as the 'most revolutionary new product extension to the Pringles range yet. Available from the end of the month, the launch of new Pringles Rice Infusions will be backed by an £11m support campaign.
Frederick's Dairies is continuing to add to its popular range of Cadbury-licensed ice creams with the launch of a Creme Egg ice cream bar, designed to entice Creme Egg fans to the freezer.
The other week I'd plonked myself down in front of the telly and was indulging in a spot of channel-hopping, when I chanced upon the BBC's Whistleblower programme featuring Tesco and Sainsbury. For those of you who didn't see it, two reporters went undercover - one at a Tesco's and the other at a Sainsbury's, to work on the fresh fish and meat counters. Neither of them had any previous experience but both blagged their way into the jobs.