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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.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

A question about EV charging was raised recently at the Petroleum Enforcement Liaison Group (PELG) where I have just been made the first chairman to be appointed from 'industry' rather than from 'enforcement'. The question was 'Who would enforce EV charging and how would they know if any had been installed that didn't comply with the guidance and therefore could be dangerous?'.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

International oil prices in July fell at the start of the month, but recovered steadily as the effects of increased production from major suppliers were tempered by an uncertain forward supply picture.

Stephen Marcos Jones: UKPIA director general

Last month, the government published its long-awaited Road to Zero strategy, setting out its proposed approach to reduce emissions from UK road transport. The strategy sets out government's ambition to see more ultra-low emission cars on UK roads by 2030 at least 50% and as many as 70% of new car sales by 2030 alongside up to 40% of sales of new vans during the same period. The strategy also confirms government's intention to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 and outlines how it will work with industry to achieve this. However, Road to Zero is technology neutral and does not speculate on which technologies might help to deliver government's 2040 mission and it does not plan to ban any particular technology, like hybrids.

Merril Boulton: editor

Just back from an excellent PRA/ACS Forecourt Conference, which both informed and inspired in equal measure. The world is always changing, but there is something about the current pace of change and uncertainty across many aspects of life business, political, technological, environment that would be easy to become quite unsettled by, and is prompting much discussion. The fuel retailing industry in particular appears to be standing on the brink of radical change, and no one is quite sure what the future holds or more importantly, how close that radically changing future is, or even how radical it will be! So attending a gathering of relevant minds to consider all the possible options, opportunities and challenges is certainly time well spent.

Tracy West: retail commentator

As a big soft drinks consumer, I've found it interesting to see how the Sugar Levy has been put into action in various retail outlets.

Kevin Eastwood BOSS - executive director

During the FIFA World Cup there were a number of countries who started the competition with low expectations. However, some quiet, careful and thoughtful planning helped them to achieve and make their nations very proud of their performances. The forecourt sector can draw similarities, in particular, when it comes to dealing with crime on our forecourts.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Changing expectations of supply amid continued strong demand pushed oil prices first down then up again in June, with Ice Brent futures ending June at $77.85/bl.

James Lowman: chief executive, ACS

In recent weeks, the Centre for Social Justice has published a report called Desperate for a Fix, focusing on tackling retail crime and calling for fresh thinking at a national and local level to find policies that can address the increases in theft and other crime that retailers have experienced recently.

Merril Boulton: editor

Quite an eye-opener at last month's APEA meeting (see News Extra, page 10). Not normally my type of gig, since it's all very detailed legal and technical stuff relating to the Petroleum & Explosives Acts and associated environment legislation.

Tracy West: Retail commentator

A recent survey of 1,000 consumers across the UK (undertaken by SOTI who say they are the world's most trusted provider of mobile and Internet of Things device management systems in the world), found that 80% of people would be 'comfortable' in a retail setting where only self-checkout tills were available. Immediately, upon reading this, I thought those 1,000 consumers would have to be younger people but apparently respondents ranged from 18 to 60-years old.

Alexander Russell: consultant, Car Wash Association (CWA)

The Car Wash Association, in conjunction with the Petrol Retailers Association, is continuing to work towards achieving a much greater level of compliance among unregulated hand car washes (HCWs) with employment law, fiscal law, Health & Safety regulations and, most recently, in dealing with the environmental hazards of trade effluent disposal. To this end, the CWA lodged an extensive submission to the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on May 18, ahead of an evidence inquiry session later this month examining HCWs, where senior representatives from the CWA are expected to be invited as expert witnesses. This inquiry will focus primarily on compliance with waste water regulations, alongside allegations of tax evasion and modern slavery. Of special interest to the EAC inquiry will be the correct storage and use of chemicals, some possibly toxic like hydrochloric acid, and the disposal of the trade effluent resulting from the use of such chemicals.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

In the real world, the latest UK vehicle statistics from SMMT for January to May 2018 versus the same period last year confirm the collapse of diesel models (-31%), some recovery in petrol +11.3%, the anticipated increase in hybrids +22.6% but a surprising drop in batteryonly electric (BEV) by 4.9%. Thus the latter still represent only a fraction of the total vehicle park. However, it is clear that motorists are sufficiently concerned about actual and proposed anti-diesel moves by government and Local Authorities to opt for petrol and hybrid when buying new. Though this is not replicated in the used car market, where both prices and volumes of diesel models are holding up well.

Charlotte Blum Analysis editor

Geopolitical moves by the US have dominated oil prices, with sanctions on oil producers driving them up further. But Opec is signalling it could increase output, and the danger of a global trade war has just bubbled up again as a threat to demand.

Tracy West: retail commentator

With plastic currently 'pubic enemy number one' it was interesting to read about eco brand Ecover's recent pop-up Rubbish Cafe in London. If you wanted to go inside, you had to 'pay' with recyclable plastic rubbish but once inside, you could savour goodies from a zero-waste menu from eco chef Tom Hunt. The stunt coincided with the arrival of Ecover's new washing-up liquid range which now comes in 100% recycled and 100% recyclable bottles.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

How communication and technology have changed and keep changing never ceases to astound me. In the field of fuel dispensing into vehicles we first heard the term 'payment app' about five or six years ago. For the past couple of years, forums in which I participate have been trying to resolve the conflict of how to allow payment on the forecourt for fuel from a mobile device, while prohibiting the use of the same device while dispensing petrol. The guidance is now drafted to the effect that the mobile device can be used to make the payment while the customer is inside their vehicle, but it must not be used while they are dispensing.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Brent crude futures at this week topped $75/bl for the first time since November 2014, pushed up by tensions in the Middle East that are exacerbating the underlying effects of strong demand and producers' output restraint. UK drivers are not yet feeling the pressure of the latest $6-7/bl rise as retail prices are slow to catch up.

Stephen Marcos Jones: director general, UKPIA

The eighth high-level meeting of the EU Refining Forum was held in April in Brussels. The Refining Forum was first established in 2013 in recognition of the need to address the cumulative impact of policies on the EU refining industry. This important annual meeting brings together representatives from industry, Member States, the Commission, European Parliament and other key stakeholders to discuss planned and future regulatory proposals with potentially significant impacts on the EU's refining industry and on the security of supply of petroleum products. This year's event represented an important opportunity to discuss the refining industry in the context of energy transition, its enduring relevance and the role of innovation to make the most of opportunities ahead.

Merril Boulton: editor

Consolidation continues to be on trend as yet more giants, this time Sainsbury's and Asda, come together to create a mammoth grocery, general merchandise and clothing retail group with a combined revenue of £51bn. And let's not forget about the 630 or so service stations they have between them, meaning they will collectively hold a 17.9% share of the fuel market. Imagine the impact that could have if the Asda approach to leading fuel prices down is rolled out across the Sainsbury's network too.

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.

  • Weekly
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  • Weekly
    wholesale
  • Daily
    Average
Weekly retail fuel prices: 12 November 2018
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East137.08139.69129.73
East Midlands136.60139.38129.02
London137.0265.40139.68129.22
North East136.4569.90142.07128.06
North West136.60138.23128.71
Northern Ireland135.0969.90137.92128.64
Scotland137.07136.04128.45
South East137.4666.90139.94129.99
South West136.7567.90139.46129.38
Wales136.47135.40128.21
West Midlands136.02140.93128.76
Yorkshire & Humber135.86140.71128.57

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