So oil prices are slowly rising again currency fluctuations and an anticipated production freeze contributing to the joyfully complex formula that dictates what motorists pay at the pump. Like sailing away from a sunny holiday destination, we seem to be leaving the £1-a-litre prices behind shame, I quite liked matching up the pounds with the litres!
But while it was good news from the Chancellor as he surprised many by leaving fuel duty alone in last month’s Budget, you’re never quite sure what may be around the corner that could throw everything into disarray. While worldwide oil stocks are at record levels, there was talk of possible strike action at Grangemouth (remember all the bother in 2013?). Luckily it came to nothing for the moment but it means retailers are never far from their oil-price/market data.
Elsewhere in the Budget (see Money Talk, page 14) came the news about the concessionary rates relief a welcome fillip for smaller sites and a big pat on the back for the PRA which spends hours talking endlessly to politicians on behalf of fuel operators.
Brian Madderson estimates that 12% of independent retailers will be exempt from paying any business rates a victory indeed (see News page 5 and ACS chief executive James Lowman’s column on page 8). Elsewhere proposed changes to Sunday Trading regulations were kicked happily into touch what a lot of wasted time and bother.
Meanwhile, as you read through the issue you will see how independent retailers are continuing to grow and develop their businesses, showing great flair and initiative. And we will be seeking out the best of them as we launch this year’s Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards campaign. Hopefully many of you will be attending this month’s Convenience Retail Show at the NEC (April 18-20). Come and see us at the Retailer Hub on the 19th at 12pm for all the latest news.