James Lowman,chief executive, ACS
"Last year saw a change of government and 2011 will be about real policy change. Public sector cuts, the VAT rise and other budget reforms will start to bite, consumers will retrench, and forecourt retailers will not be immune from the effects.
"Also as Councils are given more powers on things like alcohol licensing and planning, retailers need to be ready to have their say and get involved. Those that don’t could get some nasty surprises. For ACS our challenge is to make the best case on retailers’ behalf nationally and help retailers to make sure localism creates more opportunities than threats."
Jeremy Clarke, marketing director, Murco Petroleum
"This year is going to be another difficult year for petroleum retailers. The recent increase in VAT and fuel duty and the possibility of additional fuel duty increases later in the year can only aggravate the economic squeeze that motorists and consumers will face as the proposed public sector cuts come into play.
"The reduction in the number of car journeys has already had an effect on fuel sales and this will continue in 2011.
"On a more positive note, footfall figures indicate that c-store usage is on the increase as more and more shoppers are not driving to supermarkets but are shopping locally, especially for their top-up purchases.
"The UK convenience sector is predicted to outperform the overall UK grocery sector and with our neighbourhood locations and our very attractive and competitive Costcutter shop offer we are well placed to take advantage of this.
"With a continuation of our aggressive shop refit programme coupled with a proactive forecourt upgrade schedule, we believe that in spite of the 2011 outlook we will continue to improve the performance of our stations and the profitability of our network."
Lata Gohil, Cosford Garage, Albrighton, West Midlands
"Winning the Forecourt Trader of the Year award has boosted morale so much that we are sure it will take us from strength to strength in 2011. Customers have noticed that we won the award and I am sure it has brought us more business already.
"We will continue to try and increase sales by meeting customer needs. One of the first things we need to do this year is improve our hot food facility. Sales-wise I think we will stay level as we are a rural site with a captive audience at RAF Cosford but we are always busy."
Neale Smither, BP’s UK supply & marketing manager
"In 2011, we in BP would expect to see continued retail fuel volume decline in the industry at least equivalent to this years -1%. However, forecourt convenience sales should continue to show positive growth of 2-3%. We are seeing that a site’s fuel volume performance is more robust when it has a strong convenience offer, and moving forward we believe that those operators that embrace the best convenience offers will win in the market place.
"We expect continued changes in the competitive space, with Total and Texaco having declared their intentions to exit. BP is clear about its fuel retail strategy we intend to build on our strong brand and offers and look forward to deepening our commitment to current and prospective dealers who share those ambitions."
Adam Wadlow, partner, Barber Wadlow
"As a continual consolidation of the fuel retailing market, oil companies are rationalising and refining their network to an even greater extent. The disposal of the oil refineries and retail networks will therefore have an impact on the market.
"Although it will release further sites into the independent retail network, given the difficulties with funding, these opportunities are likely to remain the preserve of the major independent retailers, including the superstore/c-store operators. We expect to see further growth of the big five superstore operators, as well as some of the major symbol groups into the petrol retailing market.
"The focus of the major supermarket/c-store symbol retailers does create some interesting opportunities for independent retailers wishing to exit the market, be it disposal of their entire businesses, or letting individual sites to major operators on long leases, creating attractive property investments that are very much in vogue with the general property investment market. This latter option is also appealing to retailers as it avoids locking up capital, which could be better spent in the business itself.
Brian Madderson,chairman, RMI Petrol
"This looks like being another watershed year for the UK downstream oil industry with a raft of major oil companies selling off their assets to focus on more profitable investments overseas. Will Chevron, Murco, Shell and Total be able to dispose off their refinery interests at acceptable prices, to which companies and what will be the strategies of the new owners? Murco and Total are selling some 700 retail properties but will these be tied to a buyer of their respective refineries or will third parties, including independent groups, become the new owners?"
News Review 2010
The year kicked off with MP Philip Dunne joining retailers in their fight against the new business rates, calling for the revaluation to be postponed. Forecourt Trader appeared as the guest magazine on Have I Got News For You.
RMI Petrol, with chairman Brian Madderson at the helm, called on retailers to support its business rates challenge; while a survey showed that car owners were more relaxed about buying fuel than in July 2008, when prices peaked.
The publication of the latest Top 50 Indies report showed that the sector had seen plenty of activity, even though many retailers had opted to invest in their existing networks rather than on new acquisitions.
At the Top 50 Indies dinner MP Philip Dunne urged petrol retailers to keep on fighting against the ’unfair’ hikes in business rates. Site numbers reached a new low of 9,013, according to the latest Retail Marketing Survey.
With election fever and the leaders’ TV clashes gripping the nation, Gerald Ronson, boss of Heron International, said the election winner should be careful not to put pressure on the people who make a difference the entrepreneurs.
RMI Petrol was quick to approach the new Chancellor George Osborne on business rates, while the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) said it was investigating the hand car wash trade for suspected links to organised crime.
Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to increase VAT to 20% as retailers described the move as a necessary evil. The BP backlash following the Gulf oil spill was in full swing.
RMI Petrol held its first face-to-face meeting with a minister in its fight against business rates valuations. Shell teamed up with Andrew ’Freddie’ Flintoff to launch FuelSave unleaded and diesel, which were said to save motorists 1ppl.
US company Murphy Oil put its Murco Milford Haven operation on the market and RMI Petrol warned that the mass exodus from the UK refinery market could result in major oil brands disappearing from the dealer sector.
Total UK confirmed the potential sale of its entire UK marketing assets. Family team Bhupa, Lata and Jay Gohil of Cosford Garage in Albrighton, West Midlands were crowned Forecourt Trader of the Year 2010.
The government’s limited rural fuel duty rebate pilot was branded a "complete cop out" by RMI Petrol chairman Brian Madderson. The Car Wash Association launched its campaign for a level playing field.
RMI Petrol won significant rate reductions from the Valuation Office Agency following a year-long campaign to challenge the 2010 Revaluation Scheme, but Madderson stressed that the fight for further cuts would go on.