Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. and then wake the kids up and make them breakfast before heading off at around 7.45am to drive the 30 minutes from my home in Bedfordshire to
BP’s UK Fuels and Retail operations headquarters in Milton Keynes.
Another full diary awaits, as I sip my Wild Bean cappuccino in Room 13 and gear up for the first meeting. Appropriately, given its our number one priority, first up is a meeting on safe and reliable operations. We have risks all over the business that I am responsible for, which include oil terminals, trucks, BP-owned service stations and the dealer sites that we supply fuel to under the BP brand.
The biggest risks are in oil terminals; if things go wrong there, there is major accident potential. Fortunately, BP’s standards are at the top of the industry and this first meeting is an update on how we are mitigating risks.
Then it’s on to retail for the next two hours. First, a catch-up with Dave, the manager responsible for our company-owned retail business, where we discuss the latest Wild Bean offer development plans and roll-out to sites.
Then, it’s a session with Howard, who runs our dealer business, on his team’s latest ideas for reducing the cost of procured branded material for our dealers.
Just time to grab a sandwich for lunch. Next up, a telecon with my boss, Alex, on the business’ financial performance for the previous month. We are on plan with our financial targets so far this year, which makes a change from the past two years when things have been a bit difficult especially with the closure of Coryton refinery. Still, during that time, we’ve kept our retail network supplied with fuel and managed to maintain market share across our company--owned and dealer business.
Then, a walk across the floor to check in with the marketing team on how the Green Lights All The Way campaign is going. This is an advertising programme aimed at those customers most inclined to ’multi-mission’ shop when they visit a service station perhaps fill up and grab a coffee, or top-up shop in one of our Simply Food stores and pick up a cold drink on the way out. It is through these types of customers that BP will continue to differentiate itself in the UK marketplace. Our idea is to make a BP service station a destination for consumers and not a place for distress purchasing when fuel in the tank is low. Shop margin is broadly equivalent these days to fuel margin on a high-performing service station, so the shop gets as much of my attention as the forecourt!
Then it’s a sit down with Julia, our HR manager, to discuss the succession plans for my leadership team. It’s a big team, with 12 people on it, and we need to be confident that we have successors identified so that if and when one of those key leaders moves on we can backfill promptly.
Then a call with M&S to review progress on the roll out of new BP/M&S Simply Food sites across the UK. This offer is working extremely well, and we can’t grow it quickly enough!
And finally, a discussion with Wayne, our transport manager, to explore how we can reach out to our 300 HGV drivers and ensure we hear their voices voices that can improve our business performance.
It’s now 5.30pm, which leaves an hour to catch up with the day’s email traffic. No time for the gym today, but I get home by 7pm to have dinner with the kids and put them to bed before crashing out in front of the TV.
Name: Neale Smither
Company: BP Oil UK
Job title: Head of UK fuels supply and retail
Career history: Downstream oil businesses in South Africa, Vietnam, China and now the UK
Greatest achievement: Delivering an LPG joint venture in Vietnam
Tip for business success: Don’t be afraid to stretch the envelope and always give your best
Most likely to say: "We can do it!"
Least likely to say: "We can’t, because..."
Other interests: Family, friends and football