best oil company initiative: WINNER

Winning the Best Oil Company Initiative has been a great boost for the Essar Oil UK brand, according to the company’s chief commercial officer retail, SB Prasad (pictured).

"It was wonderfuel to win, and has helped us to gain recognition as a brand. Before the win we had to explain what Essar represented. Now 80% of that has been taken care of. Complement that with the backup of our UK-based refinery, and we have been able to make good progress signing up dealers. We are just about to reach 25 dealer signings and should have up to 50 by the summer. It’s a challenge, but we’re pleased with the progress."

In 2016 Essar embarked on a strategy to be part of the UK’s fuel retail sector, promoting itself as a reliable partner to its business customers. It is approaching the marketplace with several initiatives which it believes will shape the industry in times to come. Its proposition includes a straightforward offer; a flexible approach to additional services; and striking branding.

best oil company initiative: HIGHLY Commended

With the tremendous growth and relevance of convenience retailing in the forecourt sector, in April 2015 Jet announced a commercial and brand partnership with Spar UK as a key addition to its convenience strategy, giving independent dealers the opportunity to strengthen their retail offering. The objectives were to respond to changing convenience trends and consumer shopping habits by strengthening Jet’s retail offering with a big convenience brand, and in turn drive more customers onto Jet forecourts.

Stuart Cufflin, Jet’s transport and retail contracts manager, said: "We were delighted that our ’Fuelling Convenience Growth’ initiative was recognised to be one of the best oil company initiatives in the latest awards. We are continually looking at ways to strengthen our dealer offering and our brand partnership with Spar UK does just that by leveraging the strength and combined services of both brands to transform Jet forecourts into convenience destinations which maximise on both food and fuel sales."

Motorway services: june fessey

Corley Services on the M6 in Warwickshire was the subject of a multi-million pound investment in 2015. It paid off for owner Welcome Break as its manager June Fessey walked away with our Best Motorway Services prize.

The new environment has a much improved look and feel in a bid to change consumer perceptions of motorway forecourts.

The site is described as an innovative puprpose-built forecourt offering HGV and motorist fuel grades together with a range of products including Deli2go, Costa Express and Krispy Kreme. These things together with a selection of groceries and non-food items provide for all motorists’ needs.

The store has been designed with lower gondolas and clear signage to ensure it is easy to navigate.

The in-store range is regularly updated to ensure customers are provided with new and tempting products each season.

June leads a passionate team who are dedicated to delivering excellent and friendly service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Lifetime achievement

Graham Peacock and a number of colleagues founded MRH (GB) in 1997 when the company they worked for Oakstead succumbed to the pressures of trading during the infamous Esso Pricewatch years. Starting out with modest resources £1,000 but a wealth of experience, MRH has evolved into the UK’s biggest independent fuel retailer. Experience for Graham has been acquired through 40 years of hard work in the petrol retailing industry, starting full time in 1968 and working in every part of the business.

Such knowledge of the sector has enabled Graham to make some shrewd business moves, particularly around 2003/4 when MRH took advantage of an intense oil company de-capitalisation period. The business has grown to 480 sites and a turnover of £2.1bn, but the founding management team sold up at the start of 2016 to US private equity firm Lone Star. And while MRH goes from strength to strength, Graham now has plenty of time and resources to pursue his many hobbies!

Special recognition award: BOB etchingham and joe barrett

Our Special Recognition award (previously known as Retailer Champion) recognised the person/people who were blazing a trail in the forecourt retailing industry. It is aimed at those whose business embraces innovation, initiative, high standards and dedication. Last year’s shortlist comprised: Mohsin and Zuber Issa, Euro Garages; Clive Sheppard, Chartman Group; Bob Etchingham, Petrogas; David Penny, Penny Petroleum; Sej Sejpal, Platinum Retail; and Hasmukh, Kamlesh and Shailesh Thakrar, HKS Holdings. An online voting system was used to enable the readers of Forecourt Trader to cast their votes.

Bob Etchingham and Joe Barrett (pictured right, centre) were named the winners, having built a network of company-owned petrol stations across the UK and Ireland, under the Applegreen brand. The strategy has been to focus on high-quality facilities with an equally good food-to-go and convenience offer; as well as low fuel prices and it’s definitely working.

best valeting facilities: DAVID PENNY and VICKY HENNESSY

The recently refurbished valeting centre at Penny Petroleum Seamer Road introduced the new image for the company’s valeting services. The site offers the latest in wash technology including two buy-time N’Joywash 4CA2100 rollover washes, two jet washes, and both vac and air and water parking points.

The layout of the valeting centre takes drivers on a journey once through the rollover wash the road markings take them past all of the other service points, encouraging them to use the full service range for their vehicle. All decals have been changed to reflect the Penny Petroleum image and LED lighting throughout helps highlight the factilities from the roadside. The company has also adapted an old pole sign to highlight the services with a huge arch at the entrance.

In addition, a member of staff is employed at peak times to offer assistance with the equipment to those who need it.

best soft drinks outlet: SARAH SPAFFORD

The Best Soft Drinks Outlet accolade went to our overall Forecourt Trader of the Year 2016 Sewell on the go South Cave. The majority of its soft drinks are chilled for customer convenience to fit in with the needs of the ’on the go’ consumer.

Soft drinks have over 9m of refrigeration space and all fridges have frameless doors and back LED-lit chillers to enhance the appearance of the products. The chillers are planned with reference to sales, with each product given a set amount of space/placement based on this. There’s a wide range of single drinks and multipacks, catering for both the instant and take-home purchases. Indeed sizes range from 250ml to five litres.

The store focuses on a balanced mix of carbonates, waters and juices during each promotional period. Multipacks of water are particularly popular and customers love the deals offered on them. Also included in the range is 3m dedicated to healthy drink options from coconut and maple water to fresh juices.