oil company initiative
The Texaco Shining Star programmes and the associated 20:20 image were the strongest initiatives to have happened to the Texaco brand for many years, and certainly stood out in terms of other oil company initiatives making an impact in the retail sector.
"I am particularly proud of our Shining Star initiative which set out to re-establish Texaco as a premium brand in the UK," said Brian Worral, general manager, sales and marketing Europe, of Valero Energy, which acquired the Texaco brand last August. "This resulted in the introduction of a newly designed Texaco image and premium fuels, supported by enhanced retail programmes and marketing initiatives."
A new Texaco site image had been long overdue by the time Project Shining Star was being put together in 2009. The new look was the most visible aspect of the whole Shining Star initiative to the customer and retailer alike and probably the most important, with its new canopy image and lighting; promotional signage and shop fascia.
Highly commended for the Oil Company Initiative award was Maxol for its ’Fuels You Can Trust’ entry. The problem of washed and illegal fuels is a long-standing and growing problem in Northern Ireland, but has spread to the Republic of Ireland where many former service stations have reopened, retailing inferior fuels at lower-than-average market prices, according to Brian Donaldson, Maxol’s general manager, marketing and retail. A large number of fuel laundering plants have been raided by the authorities. The abuses pose a growing threat to legitimate forecourt business. The ’Fuels You can Trust’ initiative enables customers to easily recognise Maxol stations committed to selling legitimate duty-paid fuel. Retailers take part in a traceability programme, and make a pledge to buy their fuel exclusively from Maxol and permit the testing of fuel samples by the company.
Best site manager
Srithar Sivalingam of BP Connect Milton Regis in Sittingbourne, Kent fought off stiff competition to be crowned Best Site Manager. He says having a good relationship with both staff and customers is vital to being a successful manager.
"Motivating staff and good training is very important," says Srithar. "If something new comes in, I make sure I train myself in it first and then I personally train the staff. I offer a lot of encouragement in a friendly way and I appreciate all the work that they do. We also do things together outside of work and that’s really good for the team morale we’ve got a good team."
Customer service is something Srithar drums into all of his staff and it’s clearly paying off. "We get a lot of comments from customers saying that the staff are always smiling. And when contractors come on site they often say we’re one of the best sites they go to because we’re always clean and tidy."
Best soft drinks ouitlet
Located next to the Coke factory in Lisburn, County Antrim, it’s no surprise that Saintfield Road Service Station sells a lot of Coca-Cola products. Coke products make up four of the top five selling soft drinks although Red Bull is still the number one.
Owner David Cox (pictured centre) says: "Being next to the Coke factory we get a lot of support from Coke. Their executives bring a lot of people into the shop so we follow the Coke planogram and do lots of promotions."
The large Spar-branded store benefits from both impulse and take-home soft drink sales. After Red Bull, two-litre bottles of Coke are the best sellers, followed by 500ml Coke, six-pack Coke cans and 500ml River Rock water. "We’ve got a mix of people taking home and drinking now," says David. "It shows we’re not just a petrol station we’re a take-home store too."
Best tobacco retailer
The tobacco category is a big footfall driver at Valli Forecourts’ St Chads Service Station in Headingley, Leeds. So much so that it accounts for more than a third of all store sales.
Director Farook Valli (pictured centre) says the tobacco category is so successful because they have taken a whole category approach, working with all three major tobacco companies to build an appropriate planogram.
"We’re letting customer sales determine the share of the gantry," he says. "We are also listening to the tobacco companies and trying to implement their advice because they see the wider trends across the country."
Moving out non-tobacco products such as batteries and increasing stocks of tobacco sundries, and ensuring constant availability, have also given tobacco sales a boost in the past year.