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Kevin Eastwood: BOSS - executive director

Last month BOSS was able to report that crime on Britain's retail forecourts fell by 12.2% during the final quarter of 2017. Despite this success, crime on forecourts remains at an unacceptable level.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Demand growth and a strong commitment by Opec and its partners to their continued production cuts have supported prices even as worries of a potential US-China trade war are casting a shadow over expectations of strong demand growth.

James Lowman: ACS chief executive

We recently published our annual Crime Report, looking at the overall scale and impact of crimes committed against the convenience sector, covering everything from staff theft and fraud, to robberies and ram raids. The headline figures paint a stark picture with almost a million incidents of shop theft reported by retailers over the last year and the total cost of crime amounting to almost £200m, equating to a 7p crime tax on every transaction in the sector.

Merril Boulton: editor

Good to see hydrogen getting a bit of media coverage as a worthy contender for powering vehicles in the future. There has been such a powerful onslaught from those pushing the electric agenda that anyone would think the future of fuels has been decided, despite the many challenges and limitations of living with battery-powered vehicles.

Tracy West: retail commentator

The first of the Bank Holidays hits later this month with Good Friday on March 30, followed closely by Easter Monday on April 2. The true meaning of Easter may have been forgotten by most people, but it still resonates with many thanks to those extra days off work for most, if not all, people.

David Charman: chairman Car Wash Association

Recently there have been several high-profile raids on unregulated hand car washes (HCW). In the largest, police raided hand car washes and 30 residential addresses in Milton Keynes. Officers found 36 "modern slaves", 13 people were arrested and large quantities of drugs were found. This confirms that government and the key agencies are following leads on human trafficking and slavery. However, the disappointing outcome was that at least two of these HCW were open again just days after being raided.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

The oil market is having trouble assessing how oil producers, especially in the US, are stepping into the breach left by Opec/non-Opec output cuts. Throw in expectations of higher demand, and you have a market where Brent first lost almost 10% of its value and then rose again by 5% in the past month. Fuel prices at UK retail stations have caught up with the downturn in crude markets in the first half of February, but not yet with the subsequent rise. Pump prices were not much changed on average in February from January, whereas Brent was lower by $3.35/bl or almost 5%.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

With almost the entire UK recently feeling the arctic effects of the 'Beast from the East' mingling with Storm Emma, my thoughts turned to all those drivers stuck for hours in their vehicles. Then my thoughts turned to Electric Vehicles (EVs), and I wondered just how long their batteries would last with the engine on, heaters at maximum, radio keeping the news updated. And, when they ran out of juice, how could they be quickly re-charged?

Merril Boulton: editor

Well wow what a deal! MFG and MRH coming together to create one big group (see News Extra, page 10). We had reported the rumours in Forecourt Trader, but generally in the industry few seemed overly invested in the idea that it would really happen.

Tracy West: Shop Talk

While travelling through France recently, I purchased a fabulous product called Nutella & Go! That exclamation is theirs, not mine, but it deserves it because it is so good. Remember those KP dips that were all the rage years ago? Pots of chocolate with biscuit fingers to dip in well this is like them, only better.

So you get a pot of delicious Nutella and a few biscuits to dip in mmmmm. I was very excited about this and wondered why it wasn't available here.

But upon my return lo and behold within the news in the new Forecourt Trader Business Builder emailer (sign up for all the latest news, if you haven't aready done so), the imminent launch of Nutella & Go! in the UK was announced. Yippee I thought, but then read that I am too old to buy the product as it's aimed at teens and young adults. But buy it I definitely will. You see, while scoffing mine in the car on my journey through France, Mr West said he'd always been puzzled why I didn't buy Nutella at home. Simple really if I bought it, I'd eat it and probably at the rate of one tub at a time because it's so damn delicious. And it may be full of hazelnuts but it's also full of calories so the new size & Go! will suit me just fine as long as they're not on a 'two for one' deal of course.

Another product that I consumed on my French adventure was cola Calippo why, oh why, can't we have Calippos in cola flavour here? And, just prior to my break, I'd read that Asda was stocking a white chocolate and strawberry Magnum in an exclusive deal. That's not fair, I thought, until I tasted one while abroad too sickly for me.

Moving on, and I must say that I used to be quite impressed with French motorway services but not any more. I think it's because ours have improved so greatly yes they're expensive but at least with all the concessions you have a decent choice of food. And don't get me started on motorway service toilettes in France. They obviously don't have a version of our Forecourt Loo competition over there, or if they do, they're going for the 'worst' rather than 'best' prize. What's with their aversion to toilet seats and lids? Do people steal them or something?

And the smells. Have they never heard of a cleaning rota? Or air freshener?

AlI I can say is ooh là là!

Tracy West: retail commentator

My local Jet garage is switching to Esso fuel. I asked a member of staff whether that meant prices would go up and he said 'no' and if anything they'd be cheaper. I asked him the reason for the switch and he said they needed to drum up more trade (there is new competition in the area) and Esso, with its link to the Tesco Clubcard, was expected to be a crowd pleaser. We'll have to wait and see. But all this got me thinking about the power of the fuel brand.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

The PRA technical team is receiving a number of enquiries about when they must notify their Petroleum Enforcing Authority (PEA) of changes they wish to make to their fuel storage and dispensing arrangements.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Oil prices are at their highest for three years. Global economic growth is especially supporting middle distillate prices, keeping diesel well above petrol at UK retail stations.

Stephen Marcos Jones: director general, UKPIA

This year signals another gear-shift in the energy transition to a lower-carbon economy. Spearheaded by COP 21, governments around the globe are setting far-reaching ambitions to fundamentally re-stitch the tapestry of the energy industry, society and the natural environment. Parts of the energy sector have translated this into opportunity, while others may see Damocles' sword hanging precariously above them.

Merril Boulton: editor

Out and about in the petrol retailing world and it's not long before the conversation turns to electric vehicle charging. It's clearly top of mind for the sector, although no one is completely sure what to do about it. Some retailers are boldly leasing off car parking spaces to charging equipment suppliers for 15 years, as they gain a foothold in the market, as well as an income. Decision made they've future-proofed their business. Many are more wary of such a commitment that could complicate matters in the future should they want to sell their sites. Others are hanging back to see what happens. In a world of fast-moving technological developments, when is the right time to invest? How soon will any charging equipment become slow and outdated? It's the same for motorists, and when you look at the sales figures (News Extra, page 10), despite all the noise, claims of electric vehicle sales reaching a 'tipping point' are rather far fetched.

Kevin Eastwood: BOSS

Kevin Eastwood

BOSS Executive Director

Tracy West: retail commentator

Life is all about choice but increasingly choices are being taken away from us apparently for our own good.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus

Brent crude and wholesale gasoil prices ended 2017 at their highest since May 2015. UK drivers are paying more for diesel than they have in three years, with petrol not far behind. Falling crude stocks in the US were the immediate reason for the Brent price rising past $66.50/bl at the start of January, and several days of protests in Iran are adding a geopolitical risk premium, although output has not been affected.

James Lowman: chief executive, ACS

You may have seen and heard ACS in the media over Christmas talking about some changes to the way the police, courts and government are responding to shop theft. There are a couple of separate issues at play here.

Merril Boulton: editor

If the start of 2018 is anything to go by, it's going to be another lively year in the forecourt sector. I guess we've got somewhat used to the bigger fishes in the pond buying the smaller ones, and to this end we saw MFG adding to its numbers with 14 sites from the Golden Cross Group; and also Harvest Energy buying Retail Fuels Ltd and gaining nine sites. With prices so high is there a peak in sight? Who can blame retailers for selling up while the going is good, even though it might not have been in their original plans (see Focus on Property, page 32)? But with all these great companies and characters disappearing from our Top 50 Indies listing, where can a big acquisitive group go next? Ah yes, make a play for one that's even bigger as in MFG, reported to be weighing up a bid for MRH.

Tracy West: Retail commentator

This Christmas your present, as an independent retailer, should arrive on Christmas Eve. It will hopefully come in the form of the extra trade you'll get once the grocery multiples shut their doors, typically at 4pm. And that is, of course, because of our Sunday Trading Laws and the fact that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year.

David Charman: md Parkfoot Garage

As we head towards another busy Christmas period, it's time to reflect on the past year and try to make sense of what 2018 will bring to our ever-surprising business sector.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Opec and its non-Opec partners decided on November 30 to extend their production cuts for another nine months, until the end of next year. Expectations of the deal had been keeping crude futures prices above $63/bl since November 22, supporting road fuel prices.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

This government has a clear view that our future economic prosperity will be assured if the UK can emerge as global leaders in the race to a new transportation era. This involves automated vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles.

Merril Boulton: Editor

It's hard to believe that such a long-established company as Palmer and Harvey which was firmly entrenched in the life of many forecourt operations over a considerable period is no longer (see News Extra, page 10). I really feel for the hard-working and long-suffering staff, who invested considerable effort in trying to make things work especially those who had sizeable financial investment at stake. The once-busy warehouses, and trucks emblazoned with the familiar P&H logo, are now standing idle.

Tracy West: retail commentator

Now that Halloween is out of the way, you can turn your attention to creating some fabulous Christmas displays.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

One of the services the Petrol Retailers Association offers to its members is that of conciliation between themselves and their suppliers particularly fuel ones. Our help is sought a number of times each year, most often when cross-overs have occurred (petrol into a diesel tank or vice versa), during a delivery to a site. All cases to date have and are most likely to involve driver- assisted deliveries, and have been resolved to the satisfaction of our members.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

The after effects of Hurricane Harvey can still be felt at UK sites, with diesel prices at a wide premium to petrol. In the international markets, the premium has begun to shrink again now that US refineries have resumed normal operations, but growing underlying diesel demand is keeping distillate crack spreads stronger than gasoline as we enter the heating season.

Chris Hunt: UKPIA director general

Well, all good things must come to an end and for me that is the end of November when I retire from UKPIA after 20 years at the Association. One thing that marks our industry is constant change.

Merril Boulton: editor

The electric agenda seems to be pushing along at a high rate of knots at least as far as the headlines are concerned. Just this week PRA chairman Brian Madderson has twice given evidence to MPs on the subject. He first appeared as a witness before a committee of MPs following the first reading in the House of Commons of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill (see News Extra page 10). This will give the government powers to make it compulsory for public charging points to be installed at 'large fuel retailers' and service stations. Of course there is no definition of what 'large' is at this stage does it mean the size of plot, fuel sales or size of the company, as in a group with a national network? Which was precisely Brian's point.

Tracy West: Shop Talk

It's not often nowadays that I get excited about a new product. That's because most aren't really new at all as often they've just been resurrected in new packaging. However, I'm loving the new Tic Tacs I discovered very recently. They're called Breeze, they're sugar free and they come in super-strong flavours. I tried Aniseed and also Eucalyptus there may be others but these were the only ones I saw.

Kevin Eastwood: BOSS - executive director

When I meet with forecourt retailers it is not uncommon to be told that they feel the police do not respond when they report incidents. Admittedly how each police force reacts to a report depends on each chief constable who determines how his or her force deploys their resources.

Charlotte Blum: Analysis editor

The effects of Hurricane Harvey initially drove road fuel markets higher in North West Europe after it hit the US Gulf coast on August 25, but only diesel remains tight. Diesel prices have risen from a discount to a premium to gasoline, which has widened the usual UK retail premium of diesel with biofuel to petrol. Much of the refining capacity closed by Harvey reopened, but throughput in the US Gulf was still 1.1mn b/d below pre-Harvey August levels in late September.

James Lowman chief executive, ACS

At the end of September, we put our annual submission into government ahead of the Chancellor's budget, setting out the measures that we believe will help the convenience sector in the coming year. You can read the submission in full on our website. There are three main areas that we want action on. Firstly, we have restated our calls for a proper review of the business rates system. Revised rates bills are still being issued to retailers that are eligible for relief, the online appeals system is essentially broken and hopes of fundamental reform have been kicked into the long grass.

Merril Boulton: editor

Editor

David Charman: Parkfoot Garage

So now we know that our beloved petrol stations have an end date, or do they? I have been around this industry all my life, man and boy, and during that time I have witnessed some huge changes in our industry. Back in the early 1970s, I would have been legally able to serve customers before I was tall enough to even reach the till. Most customers bought £1-worth, which was 4.3 gallons (just under 20 litres). The first huge investment was moving customers to 'self-service' and then to buying in litres.

Tracy West: Shop Talk

As an old bird, technology or rather what it can do can baffle my brain. However, even I am aware of the power of social media. And, if you've not yet embraced Facebook, Instagram or Twitter then Halloween gives you the perfect opportunity.

Electric revolution: Ramsay MacDonald

The demise of the combustion engine, signalled by recent announcements from almost all of the major car manufacturers, means in no uncertain terms that electric is the fuel front runner for the next generation of passenger cars. This creates a complex set of challenges but also exciting opportunities, both for the fuel suppliers such as Certas Energy and the UK's forecourt retailers. Other fuels will have their place, particularly with regards to HGV traffic going forward, but the car manufacturers seem to have made up their mind that electric, either hybrid or exclusively, is the fuel they are backing for passenger cars.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Hurricane Harvey may have poured out its record-breaking deluge 7,500km from here, but it will dominate fuel prices in the UK this month.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

The most striking announcement of the summer was from Michael Gove on DEFRA's policy on Clean Air. Conventional petrol and diesel combustion engines are to be banned in new cars from 2040, although hybrids will be permitted. Nevertheless this leaves PRA with much to do to protect and stimulate the interests of our independent forecourt members in the years ahead.

Merril Boulton: editor

Whether it's the right direction or not, we seem to be hurtling towards an electric future as far as automotive transport is concerned, and we at Forecourt Trader will, as always, endeavour to keep you informed of all the latest developments hence the particular focus on the subject in this issue.

Shop Talk: Tracy West

How times change. When I was growing up, you only got one type of milk and that came from a cow. Today you can get goats' milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soya milk you name it and it seems you can milk it.

Ray Blake: technical manager PRA

The latest Petroleum Regulations came into force from October 1, 2014 and allowed for a transitional period of three years for the Petroleum Licences that were in force at the time, to be converted by the Petroleum Enforcing Authorities (PEAs) into Petroleum Storage Certificates (PSCs). The three years have nearly passed, and by September 1, 2017, all petrol filling stations should have been issued with a PSC. There are some people within the industry that haven't grasped the significance of the change even though PEAs should have sent letters and guidance explaining the changes at the time when the licence was due to expire.

Chris Hunt: UKPIA director general

Since I last wrote this column, the UK's General Election was held and the Queen's Speech, on June 21, set out the government's programme for the period between 2017 and 2019 and certainly life hasn't got any less complex!

Merril Boulton: editor

Calm down everyone I think! From the alarming headlines that preceded the government's announcement last month on tackling air pollution to the more considered comment released by UKPIA's director general, Chris Hunt (see News Extra on page 10), there were was a lot of shock and bewilderment in between.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Crude futures prices fell below $45/bl at one point in June for the first time since November, as demand growth has been slow. UK retail prices are following with their usual lag. In a sign that rebalancing the market is proving harder than first thought, Opec members are starting to talk about possible deeper cuts.

James Lowman: ACS chief executive

After such an unexpected (for most) General Election result, it's no surprise that Theresa May followed up with a scaled-down Queen's Speech.  But within the speech, there was still one important piece of legislation mentioned that will have direct implications for the forecourt sector. That was the Automated and Electric Vehicles (AEV) Bill. One of the consequences of the outcome of the General Election was that many of the Bills that were in progress during the previous parliament had to either be reintroduced or scrapped altogether. The AEV Bill is an example of the former, essentially consisting of a copy and paste of the Vehicle Technology Aviation Bill (VTAB) that had reached Committee Stage in the House of Commons before the election.

Merril Boulton: editor

The drive towards a growing UK car parc of electric vehicles is gathering momentum by the day, particularly with last month's Queen's Speech in which the government reinforced its determination to develop the electric and hydrogen-powered vehicle sector (see News Extra, page 10).

David Charman: chairman CWA

Our industry is facing cost increases on an unprecedented scale. Firstly, the living wage increase has impacted us all. And this challenge, I believe, is by far and away the biggest we will face in the coming years. But hot on its heels is the huge business rates increase that many of us will have to pay.

Merril Boulton: editor

There's been a lot of worrying stuff in the news recently and I'm not talking about the campaign for the General Election, which will be done and dusted by the time anyone reads this. Whatever your persuasion we will, of course, have to make the best of the outcome, but at least we won't have to bear the ugly sight of potential candidates and audiences catfighting on the TV any more.

  • Weekly
    Retail
  • Weekly
    wholesale
  • Daily
    Average
Weekly retail fuel prices: 16 April 2018
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East124.89131.38121.90
East Midlands124.2463.90131.80121.24
London124.7562.90132.31122.04
North East123.61131.90121.00
North West123.8457.70130.24120.33
Northern Ireland122.81120.56
Scotland124.25131.22121.21
South East125.0961.90132.19122.34
South West124.4558.90129.28121.58
Wales124.0253.10129.58121.26
West Midlands123.74130.31120.97
Yorkshire & Humber123.50131.80120.56

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