Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

01 November, 2005
Page 58 
SO THAT'S ANOTHER £2,000 a year to find. An increase of 20p an hour in the National Minimum Wage may not sound a lot (and at just over 4% itís thankfully one of the smallest increases for a while) but if youíre open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allow for 20 Ďextraí hours for cleaning, stocking and paperwork and pay four weeks holidays, £2,000 is what the bill comes to. If you want to get really depressed, chuck in the fall of mobile top-up revenues and the erosion of utility income as every little shop gets its own Paypoint/Payzone terminal and you now need to find nearly £4,000. Oh, itís being this cheerful that keeps me going. Luckily itís not all doom and gloom. Thank goodness for booming bottled water sales and the ever-increasing demand on car valeting is what I say.
SOME OF MY FRIENDS are puzzled over why I have been doing the same job for over 20 years. ĎDonít you get fed up?Ē they ask. ďIt must get boring, the same old thing every day. Donít you fancy a change?Ē Now while itís true that thereís plenty of mind-numbing repetition in our business, what they donít seem to realise is how much retailing changes over the years. Ten years ago who would have thought we could sell massive volumes of bottled water in the UK. Six years ago you couldnít give Red Bull away if you tried (I remember trying to clear our first consignment off at Ď2 bottles for £1í and still having to chuck most of it away). Now itís our number one seller by value. Just look at the rise of healthy yogurt drinks. When I first saw the adverts on TV I thought they were off their trolleys. There we were struggling with worries about ecoli, listeria and salmonella and some bright spark had decided we could be persuaded to actually buy bacteria to drink. Shows you what I know.IN FACT, WHICHEVER CATEGORY you look at the sales mix is always changing. Cigarettes? Once upon a time Gallaher dominated with B&H and Silk Cut taking 60% of our sales Ė now itís L&B and Richmond. Confectionery? The rise of CDM is as dramatic as the fall from grace of Kit Kat. The real challenge in our industry is how to keep up-to-date with all the changes that are going on.WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE ONE site itís not too bad. You see whatís selling, hear what the customers are saying and get to see the reps. Expand to two sites and itís still relatively easy, but get more than two and it calls for a change of thinking. THAT, TO ME, is one of the dangers for those attracted by Shellís offer to operate a cluster of five or six sites. Apart from the fact that a Ďrewardí of £80,000 is wafer thin when you consider the risks involved in six different operations, what the model of operation doesnít allow for is the management time needed to manage a full-scale business. Itís not only harder to know whatís happening at the coal face, but once youíve got 50 or 60 employees, the days of only paying lip service to all the employment legislation, payroll implications and health & safety issues are well and truly over. That guy from Environmental Health doesnít look at you as a small business struggling to make its way. Oh no, now youíre a proper concern with all the resources available to ensure full implementation of every mad-cap policy that is flavour of the month.INCIDENTALLY, if you are expanding to five or six sites, there is some merit in spreading these over two or three limited companies, notwithstanding the advice from EKW a couple of months ago. While there is more paperwork involved, if you keep the companies to a geographical area you stand the chance of keeping Ďunder the radarí of the busy-bodies. It also means you are more likely to be able to reclaim SSP and you will be able to claim multiple incentives for filing your P35s electronically. Plus you keep below the turnover thresholds for full-scale audited accounts. But I still think the Shell deal is a recipe for disaster. Watch this space...

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 15 January 2018
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East Midlands124.34132.31121.54
North East123.94133.63121.07
North West124.1658.50132.51121.18
Northern Ireland123.4169.90128.40120.85
South East125.1561.40132.52122.48
South West124.73130.24121.91
West Midlands123.7465.23132.27121.20
Yorkshire & Humber123.9161.90132.74121.12

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