Up to 458 forecourts closed last year but the site numbers highlight an underlying change in structure of the petrol retailing market in the UK, according to latest figures from Catalist.
Fuel prices are likely to remain volatile during the spring, so the Chancellor Gordon Brown’s decision to freeze fuel duty levels until September is a wise one – especially with a general election on the horizon – according to Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailer’s Association, commenting on last month’s Budget.
Crime could finally pay for forecourt traders thanks to a new, forthcoming Sky One documentary.

Blue Book published

01 April, 2005
The new edition of the ‘Blue Book’ – for the design, construction, modification, maintenance and decommissioning of filling stations, is now available.
The future viability of small forecourt stores is being threatened by the Office of Fair Trading’s blinkered view of the grocery market, according to new reports by the Association of Convenience Stores.
A football star’s car was stolen and used in at least two late-night forecourt raids in the Glasgow area before being dumped.
Forecourts should take advantage of the growing consumption of chilled ready meals, which now account for more than 50% of the average Briton’s spend on prepared meals, according to a new report by Datamonitor.

Hot stuff

01 April, 2005
The high cost to retailers of wet stock losses was revealed in a lively discussion during one of the Working Lunch sessions at last month’s International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment Exhibition.
Following the news that Somerfield had purchased 140 sites from Texaco I thought I would visit an existing Somerfield/Texaco site to refresh my knowledge of their offer. Located in the village of Coal Aston on the B6056 and just off the A61 between Sheffield and Chesterfield is a Somerfield Essentials (recently opened) franchise on a Texaco dealer site. Coal Aston is a typical Derbyshire village; no shops – apart from the garage – and a large garden centre.

Budget 2005

01 April, 2005
It shouldn’t have been a complete surprise, with a general election expected in a few weeks, that Gordon Brown’s March 16 Budget was apparently one of the shortest and quietest in living memory. It was a budget of ‘fine-tuning’ rather than any major headlines, at least as far as retailing is concerned.
Give somebody new responsibilities, new powers, and they will probably be out to prove something. Prove they’re up to it. Get results. Be a jobsworth in many cases. Unfortunately this seems to apply to a lot of trading standards officers who have been given the responsibility for ‘policing’ licensing.

How was it for you?

01 April, 2005
Was it a cuddly Budget or did you see it more on the dark side, ie Michael Howard’s way? Leaving aside the freeze on petrol duty and oil companies having to cough up sooner to help cash flow, there was one very interesting announcement in the Budget. Finally there is to be a bonfire of red tape (which we hope won’t leave a sticky mess).

News in brief

01 April, 2005
THE FORUM OF PRIVATE BUSINESS is warning small companies that they should query their new business rates bill if they believe it is too high. More than 1.5 million business rate bills are dropping into firms’ letter boxes over the next few days as a result of new rateable values, which are reassessed by councils every five years. Over average reailers’ business rates bills will increase by 17.5%.

Spar takes the high road

01 April, 2005
Spar wholesaler CJ Lang is setting its sights firmly on the forecourt sector in Scotland, with 36 forecourt shops already branded Spar and five more in the pipeline for the next few months.

A winning formula

01 April, 2005
Around 6,000 people attended the International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment Exhibition and Convenience Retailing Show 2005 three-day event at the Birmingham NEC last month. So successful was the show that its frequency is being changed from once every two years, to making it an annual event from next year. Running alongside CRS 2006, IFFE 2006 will take place from March 19 to 22 at the Birmingham NEC.

Rise and shine

01 April, 2005
Breakfast is big business for retailers these days, with research showing that an increasing number of people are grabbing their first meal of the day out of the home. According to Mintel’s ‘Snacking on the Go’ report (April 2004), ‘breakfast is the most missed meal for many consumers, who do not have the time or the will to prepare a meal in the morning’.

All in a name

01 April, 2005
Big brands make a big impact in all areas of consumerism, and the forecourt sector is no exception. But where brands on the forecourt were limited to the pole sign, pumps and products sold in store, recognisable names have made their way to other areas.

Ice breaker

01 April, 2005
If you’re selling ice cream in your forecourt shop then you need to make sure people know about it. That’s the message from Andrea Taylor, trade relations manager at Masterfoods. “Consumers might not expect to find ice cream in a forecourt store so retailers need to use point of sale material to draw people in. And inside the store, ice cream freezers need to be placed in high traffic flow areas so people are queuing against the freezer and can see what’s inside – then they’ll be tempted to buy.”

Ryko hands over servicing

01 April, 2005
Car Wash UK is taking over Ryko UK’s car wash installation, servicing and maintenance business, leaving Ryko to focus on the sale of car washes.
Zytronic is supplying its Zytouch touchscreen technology to fuel dispensing equipment giant Tokheim, for its Pay@Pump terminals. The Optimum iQ terminal range allows motorists to interact directly with the Zytouch unit. Customers can make their own debit and credit card payments, while fuel cardholders can complete their total transaction at the pump because they can enter their registration and mileage into the terminals.

Digital signage will grow

01 April, 2005
Advancements in technology mean use of digital in-store media will continue to grow, according to Steve Davies, managing director of Comtech Holdings, in the company’s Wireless Digital Signage report.

Contracts extended

01 April, 2005
Flexiline Forecourt Services, now part of Torex Retail, has tripled the length of two major contracts. The 12-month deals with Murco and Petrol Express have been extended to three years.

End to jet wash damage

01 April, 2005
Wesley Forecourt has introduced a cash security post to prevent damage to jet wash equipment when thieves break into it for cash. The answer is for the money to be held in a separate standalone post, built to be so tough, the cash would be safe and any damage minimised.

Marlboro blends in

01 April, 2005
Philip Morris is launching an extension to the Marlboro cigarette brand – Marlboro Blend 28.

Win with Wonka

01 April, 2005
Nestlé Rowntree is to be the official partner of the forthcoming Warner Bros film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) is repositioning its diet flavoured carbonated soft drinks with the launch of the Z range.
Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) is repositioning its diet flavoured carbonated soft drinks with the launch of the Z range.
Pringles is launching its biggest ever movie tie-in this spring, with Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

Maynards new gem

01 April, 2005
Cadbury Trebor Bassett is widening the scope of its Maynards portfolio with the introduction of two new products.

Wrigley rides on

01 April, 2005
The Wrigley Company has signed a new sponsorship deal with GSE Racing’s Ducati team, featuring its Airwaves brand.

Heinz spices up Beanz

01 April, 2005
Heinz is taking the next step in its ‘Bake Beanz Strategy’ with the launch of Heinz Mean Beanz, a range of spicy beans.
Saxon Industries is exclusively distributing a product for looking after things in the car, around the home or in the office.
Pepsico is relaunching its Tropicana juice as part of a £7.7m brand drive this year.
Bendicks is introducing two limited editions to generate increased consumer interest and drive incremental sales in the hard-boiled sweet sector.
I DONT KNOW whether you noticed the recent series of adverts from the Health & Safety Commission that extolled the commercial sense of good safety practices. “This Port Authority saw its absenteeism drop by 70%, its days lost through sickness fell by 50% etc etc.” All very laudable stuff, I’m sure, but I, for one, am beginning to despair of the never-ending stream of new measures and restrictions that are being foisted on us in the name of Health & Safety or saving the planet.

Fuel prices: April 2005

01 April, 2005
Data supplied by Catalist Ltd

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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 »