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Tracy West: retail commentator

Mr West and I have just completed a road trip across part of the US. He drove more than 3,000 miles in 11 days across Arizona, Colarado, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. It was great fun but also a little hairy as we encountered much more snow than we had anticipated.

Alexander Russell: consultant, Car Wash Association (CWA)

The government's response to modern slavery in the UK has been woefully lacklustre, despite a recent hard-hitting investigation by Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) into hand car washes (HCWs) which acknowledged the sheer scale of the problem and the lack of enforcement of existing regulations that might help prevent it. The National Police Lead for England has estimated that as many as 20,000 HCWs might be operating in the UK, with most unchecked by regulatory authorities for tax, environmental and employment abuses.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

International crude oil markets slumped on May 31 after US President Trump proposed tariffs on all goods from Mexico "until the illegal immigration problem is remedied". The falls were triggered by the increasing threat of global recession and subsequent effect on oil demand.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

FairFuel UK together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fuel has been lobbying the Treasury to support their proposals for PumpWatch a voluntary code to be adopted by industry, which is designed to bring greater transparency and fairness to pump pricing. No details have been seen at this stage but Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign, said: "Everything about the shadowy world of the vehicle fuel supply chain has a musty repugnant smell about the way it formulates pump prices. In the last 12 months, the fuel supply chain has consciously held back wholesale changes amounting to billions. Even if half of these figures had been in drivers' pockets, what would that have done to consumer spending, inflation, jobs and economic growth?"

Tracy West: retail commentator

I'm as happy to do my bit for the planet as the next person, however I do feel that some companies are rushing through changes without properly researching them first. Take McDonald's. I love a McDonald's milkshakemmmm. But, when I had one the other day, imagine my displeasure when the new paper straw went all soggy and collapsed halfway through my drink!

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

When talking to forecourt operators on the 'Roadside Fuel Recovery Standard' (RFRS) stand at The Forecourt Show a couple of weeks ago, there was one fact they all found most surprising. It was that despite the customer who had mis-fuelled paying for the remediation service, they were legally responsible to ensure the works were carried out in a safe manner, and should the worst happen, not only could their site be damaged and closed for business, they may not be insured and could be liable to prosecution.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

The US government surprised the oil markets by ending waivers on sanctions against Iran, pushing prices to new 2019 highs and exacerbating a global supply crisis for sour crude oil. Pump prices for petrol were more than 4ppl higher than a year ago and climbing steadily.

Stephen Marcos Jones: director general, UKPIA

Hardly a day goes by without a newspaper headline telling us about the next big thing in the world of transport. Artificial Intelligence. Driverless cars. Real-time data sharing with other road users. Deliveries bringing fuel direct to your home or business. Low-carbon fuels, both liquid and non-liquid, hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon.

Kevin Eastwood: executive director - BOSS

When it comes to non-payment on forecourts, experience tells us that some motorists do make genuine mistakes and it's important to respect customers inadvertently caught in a difficult situation. These can be rectified if accurate information is collected by retailers so that repayments can be made within a reasonable timeframe. This said, we must then turn to those motorists who deliberately seek to evade payment.

Tracy West: retail commentator

The 'bah humbug' brigade, typically active at Christmas time, are now out for Easter. Pre-Easter stories in the mainstream media are usually about how over-priced Easter eggs are when you compare their chocolate content to bars that are available all-year-round. In the past there has also been chuntering about packaging but many manufacturers have done away with the plastic part of their packaging. Today though, the anti-Easter (or rather Easter egg) stories emanate from research commissioned by the RSPH. If, like me, you'd never heard of them, they are the Royal Society for Public Health an independent, multi-disciplinary charity dedicated to the improvement of the public's health and wellbeing.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

The steady gains for crude oil in 2018 continued through March and UK motorists are now feeling the pinch at the pump, as Opec maintained solid discipline containing output. Benchmark Brent crude oil futures ended March at $68.39/bl, gaining $2.36/bl on the month and are now up by nearly $15/bl in 2019. Retail diesel and petrol prices have risen sharply in March, up by more than 1.5/ppl after failing to keep pace with crude rises for most of the year.

James Lowman: chief executive, ACS

We've just launched our 2019 Crime Report, and it's another shocking insight into the extent and frequency of crime against our sector. Let's start with the financial impact: crimes committed against the convenience sector cost an estimated £246m over the past year, equivalent to over £5,300 for every store in the UK, or what amounts to a 7p 'tax' on every single transaction.

Merril Boulton: editor

Beneath all the excruciating political noise and in spite of it life goes on. And forecourts are in the fortunate position of being an essential part of that daily life. People still need to get to work, they need to refuel, buy breakfast, coffee, lunch, a few groceries and everything else in between. And whatever happens with the whole Europe thing, that will still be the case.

Tracy West: retail commentator

If thousands of your customers were asked to rate your store for things like appearance, queuing time, range of products and value for money, how do you think you'd do?

Alexander Russell: consultant, Car Wash Association (CWA)

Continued pressure by the Car Wash Association (CWA), together with support from MPs, was responsible for finally getting the issue of rogue hand car washes (HCWs) onto Parliament's agenda via the Environmental Audit Committee's (EAC) June 2018 hearings. It was rewarding that the EAC's remit, the context in which they set the issues and the questions that were raised, were all so closely aligned with the CWA's principal concerns. In addition to widespread pollution by up to 20,000 HCWs, these included Modern Slavery, tax evasion, employment and health and safety abuses, money laundering and drug dealing.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

Oil prices continued to rise as it became clear that the US was not securing a quick win to force President Nicolas Maduro from power in Venezuela, prolonging sanctions on the country's oil exports.

Brian Madderson: chairman, PRA

There is no doubt that as we head towards Brexit Day on March 29, our politicians and political commentators are ensuring that the outcome continues to be very uncertain. No one can forecast with any real confidence where the country will be in three month's time. This is much the same with the proposed Sainsbury's/Asda tie-up as the Competition & Markets Authority announced a further delay on their findings to April 30. No certainty with this one either!

Merril Boulton: editor

So it's already March and at the end of this month, who knows what will have happened re what's become the dreaded Brexit situation. But one thing is for certain, and that is the success of the Top 50 Indies, which is clear to see in our latest report published in February (see News Extra, page 10). It sums up another intriguing year, in which, following an impressive run of 13 years at the top for MRH, there is a new number one MFG which, with an incredible 925 sites is twice the size of the next group on the list the EG Group.

Tracy West: retail commentator

I've played the National Lottery since it began nearly 25 years ago. Indeed I went to its launch at the Tower of London; I still remember it now. My old news editor remembers it too, because she says that after the first draw I came into work so disappointed because I hadn't won.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

My name is Ray Blake and I am a 'Petrol Head'. My addiction to cars drives my wife mad and I thank her for putting up with my obsession for over four decades. From the moment I was given my first Corgi model car when I was five, a Studerbaker Gold Hawk, I was fixated on cars. I have progressed through toy cars (Matchbox, Corgi, Dinky, Hot Wheels, Scalextric) to my first real car (1967 Austin A40 Farina, given to me by my grandfather when I was 16), to the zenith of a collection of six classic cars.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

UK transport fuels shed around 1ppl in January, but the losses are expected to be short-lived, as international oil markets climbed steadily through the month in response to the US sanctions against oil-rich Venezuela.

Stephen Marcos Jones: UKPIA director general

It is a new year, but the fuel supply industry faces the same challenges with uncertainty surrounding the UK's exit from the EU first and foremost a concern on the forecourt and across our sector.

Merril Boulton: editor

Great to see that Shell is raising the bar on forecourt food with its launch of the Jamie Oliver deli by Shell range. The forecourt sector has been crying out for some 'properly decent' food on the go, for some time.

Tracy West: retail commentator

Happy New Year to you all. I was going to begin the year with a look at trends but, if you were to believe all the hype, the biggest trend of all seems to be veganism.

Kevin Eastwood: BOSS - executive director

During the second half of 2018 we saw a significant rise in incidents of crime on forecourts, and the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index for the third quarter of 2018 revealed a 13% rise in the number of incidents. Rising fuel prices also pushed the cost of crime to retailers up by more than 20%. We know that levels of crime fluctuate with the seasons and that there is also a direct correlation with escalating fuel prices. BOSS saw No Means of Payment (NMoP) incidents increase during 2018 and we are now dealing with up to 10,000 incidents every month.

Chris Judge: analysis editor - Argus Media

Oil prices continued their downward trajectory in December after heavy losses in the last quarter of 2018. Concerns about over-supply were further complicated by an uncertain global economic outlook in response to US trade tariffs on China.

James Lowman: chief executive, ACS

As we kick off 2019 with the government still squarely focused on Brexit, it's easy to forget that there are other domestic policies and interventions on the horizon. We're especially interested in two areas where the government is looking to influence consumer behaviour through new legislation.

Merril Boulton: editor

Happy New Year to you all let's hope it's a good one, as the song goes. As we launch into 2019, things appear pretty positive for the fuel retailing sector, with property prices staying strong despite the big deals done last year (see Focus on Property, p31). Even MFG's buyout of MRH, which it was thought at the time might burst the property-price balloon, failed to take significant heat out of the market. With Prax Petroleum's purchase of big dealer group HKS, and oil companies like Certas Energy and particularly Jet back on the acquisition trail, competition for sites remains strong. And there's plenty of talk and debate among certain dealers hoping to expand their networks, looking approvingly at their good margins and positive numbers for the year, and still seeking growth.

Tracy West: retail commentator

Can you believe it's December already. Well, actually I know all of you can because you will have been planning your stock and staff for months. Me? Well, I am just your average consumer so the fact that December is here is still a bit of a shock!

Alexander Russell: consultant, Car Wash Association

The Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has published its report on hand car washes (HCWs) in the UK following written submissions and hearings held in the summer from a number of stakeholder parties, including the Car Wash Association.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

International oil prices were in freefall in November, posting the steepest monthly decline in four years on oversupply and political turbulence rippling through two of the world's largest producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

Many industry watchers thought that the very high values achieved by dealers (up to 12 x EBITDA) for their assets would soon start to wane.

Merril Boulton: editor

What an aggressive lot those 'gilet jaunes' are, turning Paris into a war zone last month with the worst riots in decades. Protesters clashed with police, looting stores and torching shops and cars, creating absolute chaos on some of the most iconic streets in the city. The reason? Rising fuel taxes. Welcome to our world or it would be if it wasn't for organisations such as the Petrol Retailers Association, who try to educate and inform those in power without so much as lifting a match or sporting a yellow vest. What the French need is Le PRA!

Tracy West: retail commentator

I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit the Forecourt Trader of the Year 2018 recently A26 Tannaghmore in Northern Ireland. And what a pleasure that visit was. It was easy to see how it wowed the judges.

Merril Boulton: editor

Very interesting forum last month on 'The next steps for low-emission vehicles...' (see Industry Insight p23). Apart from the fact that the move to electric vehicles and the necessary infrastructure required to service them, all sounded like one huge, challenging mess despite the enthusiasm of some of the presenters there were certain points raised that made my ears prick up.

Stephen Marcos Jones: director general, UKPIA

As autumn begins to pinch, this is when we as a nation (or the high street retailers at least) begin counting down to Christmas. Santa's delivery supply chain while impressive only covers one day of the year whereas we'll have to keep fuel flowing over the whole Christmas period and beyond, but I'm sure we're all looking ahead in anticipation to the weeks to come.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

The unmanned operation of petrol filling stations is growing across the UK, sometimes because it is the only feasible way for vehicle fuel to be accessible in remote areas. But also where companies have evaluated the cost of installing and monitoring technical solutions against the ever-rising cost of employing personnel and decided that the outlay is worthwhile.

Chris Judge: analysis editor, Argus Media

International oil prices shed more than 10% in October. Markets fell from the highs seen in September, as Saudi Arabia increased production and assured customers that it would plug any gaps caused by loss of Iranian oil to sanctions. UK transport fuel prices were broadly neutral, but Ice Brent futures ended the month at $75.04/bl, a loss of $7.68/bl on the month.

Merril Boulton: editor

Well what a shocker! The Jet brand is returning to the company owned sector. Brand owner Phillips 66 has bought independent dealer Nick Baker's award-winning business in Yorkshire. While it's only four sites, Mary Wolf, the company's managing director, UK marketing, said the acquisition was the start of a new development for Phillips 66, and marks the first phase in the rollout of its plans while stressing that the company remained committed to the dealer market.

Tracy West: retail commentator

Not sure if you noticed it, but last month Cadbury launched a new chocolate bar.

James Lowman: chief executive, ACS

It's hard to ignore the debate on plastics and the environmental impact of the bottles and bags that are too often discarded into the countryside, waterways and oceans. One of my rules in working out how ACS should address policy challenges is to ask 'Is this a real issue, are the people who are concerned about it justified in demanding action?' In this case, the answer is definitely 'yes' so we should think about what local shops can do to help tackle this problem. Of course, it doesn't automatically follow that any proposed solution is the right one, so we need to be as objective as we can, and ask what will work and what it will mean for members.

Kevin Eastwood: executive director, BOSS

On more than one occasion during the past three months, BOSS has been told by senior police officers that they are keen to have much closer links with forecourt retailers as there are often clear links to more serious incidents. Forecourt crime tends to involve a high number of incidents which are low in individual value. It soaks up manpower and, in an era where resources are under immense pressure, better working relationships can improve safety, save time and reduce losses for fuel retailers.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Oil prices continue on their upward trajectory, and there are signs of tightness in global markets, felt all the way down the supply chain to the UK pump.

Merril Boulton: editor

The skies above the fuel retailing sector are busy with activity as the powers that be set about making decisions that will influence the structure of the industry well into the future. How much of it amounts to dark thunder clouds on the horizon, and how much potential rays of sunshine has yet to emerge.

Tracy West: retail commentator

So the mighty Coca-Cola has gobbled up Costa Coffee in a £3.9bn deal. Wow. News reports say it's a win-win good news for Costa as the brand can expand further globally and good for Coke as it takes them into hot beverages.

Alexander Russell: consultant, Car Wash Association (CWA)

The Car Wash Association has been lobbying the government directly and through media campaigns during the summer months on the subject of non-compliant hand car washes (HCWs). The aim is to motivate the government and its various stakeholder agencies to inform, encourage and where necessary, oblige illegal HCWs to comply with human trafficking and modern slavery laws as well as to adhere to employment, fiscal and environmental regulations.

Charlotte Blum: Analysis editor

UK road fuel prices are at their highest for four years, underpinned by high crude prices and robust middle distillates demand. US trade policy and its ramifications, as well as supply expectations, again dominated the market, pushing prices first down, then up again in the past month.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

If the Road to Zero plan finally published by the Department for Transport (DfT), the Clean Air Strategy published by the Department for Food, Rural Affairs and Environment (DEFRA) together with the demonisation of diesel were not sufficient worries for the UK fuels retailing industry, the proposed £12bn merger of Sainsbury's and Asda plus MFG's £1.2bn acquisition of MRH just add to future uncertainty.

Tracy West: retail commentator

I'm sorry but I'm back on the subject of soft drinks again this month.

Merril Boulton: Editor

Important to stay braced and focused on the positive when opening the sizeable tome that is the government's newly published 'Road to Zero' strategy (see News Extra, page 10). Perhaps read it in small chunks with a nice glass of something so that you don't blow too many gaskets in the same sitting.

  • Weekly
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    Average
Weekly retail fuel prices: 10 June 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East135.3166.90140.93130.00
East Midlands134.59140.57129.69
London134.50141.91130.33
North East133.19142.40129.15
North West134.1363.90139.73129.13
Northern Ireland131.34135.32128.05
Scotland134.25140.07129.86
South East135.2562.40141.74130.52
South West134.5167.90140.57129.57
Wales133.6764.90137.30128.83
West Midlands134.34140.64129.70
Yorkshire & Humber133.72140.40129.24

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