Retailers were impressed by BP’s recent dealer conference in Spain, in which fuels operation manager Peter Molloy, stressed that BP was fully committed to its UK dealer business and had a clear strategy to win for the future.

John Ryeland of the George Hammond Group based in Dover, said: "The conference was a positive step by BP and the dealers who went enjoyed it. For us BP has the best all-over dealer offer in the UK at the moment. Its commitment to performance fuel is excellent and its marketing strategy, with Connect and M&S Simply Food is second to none in the marketplace."

The 3-day dealer event, BP’s first in more than five years, saw the company outline plans to further boost its offer to the independent sector, including the roll-out of Connect and Wild Bean Café as a franchise option.

Speaking after the conference, Molloy said the announcement that Coryton, BP’s last remaining refinery in the UK was to be sold, had caused concern that BP was no longer fully committed to the UK fuels market. "This is not true. We held the convention to re-affirm our position in the market and to re-iterate to our supply customers that we are here to stay and committed to the UK," he said.

"Our dealer network has grown significantly over the past three years. BP has converted nearly 200 new dealers or a staggering 820 million litres of fuel volume as well as retaining over 95% of our existing dealers.

"Dealers do have a choice in the market place but our track record suggests that BP is the dealer supplier of choice - we have great products and a great brand that offers the right business choice for our customers and that is why more and more dealers are converting to BP."

Outlining plans to develop the dealer offer for the future, Molloy said the Connect and Wild Bean Café franchise trial on two sites had been a success and would be expanded. "Dealers are expressing keen interest in this venture as they see it as a way of increasing footfall, incremental income from non fuels and brand value," he said. There will also be a new system, called FuelSmart, to control the ordering and delivery of fuel, which Molloy said would improve efficiency and be of mutual benefit to both BP and its dealers.

Meanwhile there was good news on the Nectar loyalty scheme, with dealers able to reward their customers with points on shop sales, as well as fuel, at no extra cost, from next year.

Following BP’s reorganisation over the past year, the conference also saw the introduction of fuels marketing manager Janet Ashdown, who is now looking after the dealer network. The retail business has been split between fuels marketing and convenience. Stephen George, who was responsible for both fuel and convenience in the UK, has moved onto a new role as head of European convenience. Meanwhile, Karen Hubbard is now UK convenience operations manager for company-owned sites.

BP has also announced the launch of an innovative text voucher scheme offering customers a free coffee at Wild Bean Café.