Last month, leading fuel supplier Greenergy came good on its promise of a multi-format offer for independent dealers, with the announcement that it has added the Esso and Nisa brands to its portfolio. The Greenergy offer now combines fuel supply with a choice of oil major, convenience, independent and dealer own-brands, as well as a range of support services.
Greenergy reached an agreement with Esso last September to take over fuel supply to Esso dealers in Northern England, North Wales and Scotland, but the agreement was subject to review by the affected retailers. However following a successful review period, Greenergy is now supplying Esso fuel to 90 existing Esso dealers and is also able to offer the Esso brand and fuel, to non-Esso dealers.
Greenergy has also reached an agreement with Nisa Retail Limited to market its brands in the UK, extending the Nisa symbol from the store to the forecourt pole-sign.
Andrew Owens, Greenergy chief executive said: "Many independent forecourts are telling us that they want different solutions for different sites, so we’re creating the freedom to choose what’s right for each forecourt.
"Our offer gives the flexibility of site-specific brand and service options, plus the convenience and cost benefits of buying from a single national supplier."
Greenergy has been steadily building its dealer customer base in the past year, either with dealer’s own brands, or less significant brands than Esso or Nisa, so the latest announcements mark an important milestone in the company’s drive for growth in the independent dealer sector.
Founded as a niche manufacturer of green fuels in 1992, Greenergy already supplies one quarter of the road fuel sold in the UK over 11 billion litres through its contracts with supermarkets, major oil companies and big fleet operators.
"We’re already a very significant supplier of fuel to the retail sector," explains Owens, "but now we have a really attractive offer to meet the needs of the independent dealer market specifically. We are optimistic that the addition of the Esso and Nisa brands to our dealer offer will drive our portfolio very significantly indeed.
"We don’t do things to be marginal we have done this to be a competitive force and to drive growth for all those involved.
"Many dealers have been waiting for the completion of our branded wholesaler agreement with Esso, and two years from now I believe there will be considerably more Esso-branded forecourts.
"We’re able to use our own supply chain, offering Esso products and operating to the standards and quality that Esso demand.
"We’re confident we’re making an offer that meets the needs of independent forecourt operators. We’ve based our business around providing the flexibility and the service levels that they require."
Owens explains that a dealer now has a choice of supply options. "A dealer can choose to have a conventional supply option and buy from the oil company they’re branded with or they can opt for a more flexible offer from an independent supplier offering a series of brands, which gives them more flexibility, better costs and better service.
"We’re absolutely focused on ensuring our customers always have fuel, that’s our huge KPI. Our service is about keeping people fully in stock, 365 days of the year.
"In times of stress in the industry, dealers sometimes feel they may have not have had the best end of the stick. We are absolutely determined to give independent forecourts the same level of stock availability that we give our much larger corporate customers."
Owens says one advantage of the company’s offer is its approach to securing credit: "Our primary aim is to take out credit insurance as security for fuel supply, something we have been able to do for many of our dealers. That’s different to the approach taken by the major oil companies, which tend to require other, expensive forms of security such as bank guarantees or deeds to property.
"By using credit insurance, we can help dealers avoid the need for these expensive forms of security, potentially releasing an enormous amount of liquidity for the dealer."
Owens believes dealers are going to become the dominant force in retailing after the supermarkets: "That’s why we’re interested in the space. It’s a great opportunity for us because we’re independent, we’re price and service driven, and we’re not trying to leverage our own brand credentials. In fact our own brand never appears anywhere.
"Our offer is about good contractual structures, good pricing, but also the highest levels of reliability. We want to offer a zero-fault service and we don’t want to see any of our customers worried about when their next delivery is.
"Fuel should be a seamless supply, like turning the tap on at home and the water coming out. It should turn up in a safe, clean, presentable truck, at the right time, with the right stock and with fault-free paperwork. Our customers should be able to forget we exist, so all their energy can be put into their shop, their staff and making a success of their sales activity."
With choice, stresses Owens, comes the freedom not to buy from Greenergy: "That means we’ve got to be really good and that’s where we like to be."
The principle of choice means retailers can opt for Platts daily, weekly, week minus "We’re 100% free commercially," stresses Owens. "We want people to want to buy from us, and that means being competitive, reliable and easy to deal with."
The Nisa tie-up will work along the same principles: "We can offer dealers the Nisa brand when it’s considered appropriate. Nisa is a lovely clean, modern brand. And if a retailer has a site that is driven by convenience, it’s a perfect brand to have.
"In terms of dealers we’re targeting anyone and everyone that’s the whole point of our approach. Our offer meets the needs of all independent retailers, from the biggest indies to single sites in rural areas.
"Some small sites, operating under their own brand, may not historically have received the attention and service levels they deserve. Now they can.
"We have tried to think how we would like to buy if we owned a forecourt what would make it good for us. I think people want the choice now and to be able to fine-tune as the market develops.
"We are a flexible, listening company, we will take advice from the dealers on what they need and then we will do our best to deliver that."