Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community
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Chris Hunt - UKPIA director general

Petroleum products are an essential energy resource and they will continue to be for years to come. Our sector produces these vital products and confidence in the safety of our operations is paramount. Our industry does involve potential risks that are greater than those in many other sectors and for this month's column I want to focus on safety.

Peter Harding - retail consultant

The latest Apple event came and went launching the new Iphone 6s, new Apple TV new ios 9 and OSx El Capitan and, of course, the Ipad Pro. Having done some work with CBE on the mobile solution, I was keen to see what the Ipad Pro brought to the table.

Shop Talk - Tracy West

he news that Christmas will be cheaper for consumers this year means only one thing to retailers fierce competition. A survey for VoucherCodes.co.uk, done by YouGov, found that average household spending on food, presents and decorations would be £796.05 this year. It sounds a lot but it's actually 3% down on last year's spend of £820.60, and the lowest spend since 2012.

James Lowman - ACS chief executive

At the start of September, we launched our fourth annual Local Shop Report and it was great to see so many of you in Manchester to be among the first to get the information.

Kevin Eastwood - Executive director BOSS

At a recent meeting with the Attorney General, the country's senior law officer, BOSS was praised for the work it does in tackling forecourt crime. It was also welcoming to hear from Home Office Minister for Policing, Mike Penning MP, that he's grateful for the positive way that BOSS is working with the Home Office.

Shop Talk - Tracy West

Having spent over two weeks recently with a really annoying cough and cold, I've had first-hand contact with the cold and flu remedies category. During my illness I consumed, in no particular order: vitamin C, vitamin D3, Day Nurse, Night Nurse, paracetamol, Sudafed, Covonia lozenges, Jakeman's throat sweets and liquorice tea. Annoying as my symptons were, I didn't bother going to the doctors because there's nothing they can do for the common cold.

Brian Madderson - chairman PRA

I wrote after the election to Mike Penning MP, newly appointed minister for policing, crime, criminal justice and victims at the Home Office about possible changes to police policy on forecourt crime.

David Charman - chairman CWA

As the summer months continue with the better weather, the excellent car wash sales of 2015 have continued. I was reminded recently by a personal event that there has been a dramatic increase in some of the costs incurred by our business, such as water and refuse.

Shop Talk - Tracy West

How pro-active are you at providing what your shoppers want? I ask because I spoke to a convenience store retailer recently who told me he had just started stocking low-salt and low-sugar lines. But the interesting bit was that he was not responding to demand, he was trying to create it.

Chris Hunt - UKPIA director general

Diesel vehicles have become increasingly popular and now account for over half of new car registrations in the UK.

Peter Harding - Retail technology consultant

Apple Pay and PayPal are the latest payment methods to reach our retail stores and sites. Available on iPhone 6, Apple Pay enables your mobile phone to be used as a mobile wallet. You simply pass your phone near to the terminal, anything with the ApplePay logo or the currently available contactless symbol. The limit for Apple Pay is currently the same as contactless ie £20. I understand that this is moving to £40 per transaction in October.

Shop Talk - Tracy West

I've always been a bit fascinated by the Graze craze. You know, those boxes of delicious but healthy snacks that get sent direct to consumers' homes or desks.

James Lowman - ACS Chief executive

Business rates are one of the biggest cost burdens on retailers, and while the government's review of the system is a great opportunity, there will be winners and losers. It's our job to explain why local shops should be net beneficiaries of the review.

Kevin Eastwood - BOSS executive director

Last month there was uproar when Devon and Cornwall Police revealed that taking fuel and driving off without payment would not be investigated and their lack of resources meant they would not deal with it.

Shop Talk - Tracy West

I know it's really the wrong time of the year to talk about chocolate, but I just had to tell you about my latest find.

Merril Boulton: Age of the indie

Lots of positive news for the fuel retailing sector this month starting with our latest annual Fuel Market Review, compiled in conjunction with Experian Catalist (page 28). It shows that the number of dealer sites has grown for the second year in a row, there are more vehicles on the UK roads, retail fuel volumes have also grown plus supermarket volumes are down, albeit by just 0.5%.

Brian Madderson - chairman PRA

Farewell coalition and hello majority. Voters chose a Conservative Government producing a raft of new appointments and decisions critical for our industry sector.

David Charman - chairman CWA

Well it's that time again; time to complete the HMRC rates form showing, in a nutshell, how my business has performed over the past three years. I suspect that for many of us it will reveal just how much our sector has changed.

Shop Talk - Tracy West

The phrase 'I don't believe it' is the title of this month's column as I am in full-on Victor Meldrew mode. Firstly, I couldn't believe the story of the chap who went into Greggs (the bakers) to buy a loaf of bread, only to be told they don't sell bread any more. Surely that's just the same as going onto a petrol forecourt and being told they don't sell petrol?

Merrril Boulton: Indies in overdrive

Yet another month of intense activity in the sector, and I don't just mean all the trade exhibitions that were held last month including our own very successful Forecourt Show at the NEC. The head offices of MFG and Euro Garages must have been and will continue to be operating in overdrive as they go through the purchase of yet more swathes of sites, this time from Shell (see News Extra page 10).

Chris Hunt - UKPIA director general

s we went to press, a safety scheme for road fuel tankers was launched. UKPIA inaugurated a thoroughly revised Safe Loading Pass Scheme (SLPS) on April 30. The scheme aims to ensure that road fuel tankers are safe and meet a number of additional checks and standards. The SLPS was first established in the UK in 1989 and was informally managed by a small number of participating companies.

Peter Harding - Retail technology consultant

Can you remember where you were and what you were doing on Friday April 10, 2015? I can. I had made an appointment to view and potentially order my new Apple watch. Having got to the relevant point in the appointment system, the nice young lady asked me which watch I was there to see? I knew it was the larger 42mm watch with the Milanese Loop.

Shop Talk: Tracy West

People say that there's no such thing as a free lunch but with Walker's crisps that's not true. That's because consumers buying packets of the crisps have a one in six chance of winning a free lunch. Walkers owner PepsiCo says this will enable retailers to 'add some crunch' to their lunchtime sales.

James Lowman: ACS Chief executive

The Chancellor has delivered his final Budget of the parliament ahead of the election in May. One of the headlines grabbing a lot of attention was the announcement of 1p off a pint, reductions in other alcohol duties and a freeze in wine duty. This is good news for an important category in convenience stores. A reduction in duty rates on alcohol alongside a renewed commitment from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to clamp down on duty fraud and the upcoming introduction of an alcohol wholesaler registration scheme are all positive steps toward tackling the damaging illicit trade.

Kevin Eastwood - BOSS executive director

On May 7 the country goes to the polls to elect a new government. One of the first questions I will be asking the new Home Secretary is "What is the justice system going to do to respond better to drive-offs and 'no means of payment' (NMoP) incidents?"

Tracy West -:Shop Talk

By now, you should all be covered up. And by that I mean your cigarettes and baccy, all cosy and snug behind doors or shutters because on April 6, that's the law!

Merril Boulton: Big growth for the big boys

Interesting times, as Esso concludes the sell-off of its final tranche of sites and pilots a new fuel livery; and MFG unveils a new strategy - on the one hand signing off on the biggest fuel supply deal of recent years; and also commits to the Murco brand in a dealer supply operation. Full marks to Euro Garages for taking the lion's share of the Esso sites. It means that since 2012, when the first of the Esso company owned site sales took place, Euro Garages has acquired 195 out of a possible 369 sites - more than half. According to the latest Top 50 Indies listing, and by my calculations (granted the figures are always fluctuating) it now has a total of 286 sites and has therefore jumped ahead of Rontec to come nearly neck and neck with MFG, currently at number two with 288 sites. MRH however, has reinforced its dominance of the independent dealer group sector, adding another 78 sites bringing its network to 463. It acquired a total of 109 sites from Esso over the three groups of sales; Rontec gained 55 overall. These are audacious acquisitions as these independent dealer groups continue to grow in leaps and bounds. MRH has lead the way in terms of numbers for some time; Euro Garages continues to lead the way in terms of innovation both in site development and operation. MFG has joined the party with its huge number of company owned sites on which it continues to raise standards; and now it is officially caretaker of the Murco brand. The MFG management

Merril Boulton: Burgeoning Top 50

It's been another busy month as we completed the research on the latest Top 50 Indies listing, which shows a burgeoning group which has grown at the rate of more than 300 sites in the past year (see report on page 20). And of course more growth will come with the conclusion of the sale of Esso's final tranche of sites and Shell's disposal of 250 sites, expected to be completed later this year.

Brian Madderson: chairman PRA

The extraordinarily steep decline in Brent Crude from $115 per barrel last June to $45 per barrel by mid-January was predicted by very few (if any) analysts, traders or oil companies, tempting the same scribes to pen their best guesses for 2015. The recent Bloomberg headline which read "analysts are now united in their view of crude oil prices going forward" it will be somewhere in the range $30 to $200 per barrel, neatly summarised these guesses.

David Charman - chairman CWA

Spring 2015 may turn out to be a huge turning point in the car wash industry. The weather has been kind, resulting in the best start to trade for maybe five years. Could it be also that the new found wealth afforded to the motorist, with the falling fuel prices, has rekindled the love affair with the motor car?

Shop Talk - Tracy West

I always used to be impressed by US forecourts they always seemed so cutting edge, so ahead of the curve but on a recent trip to Florida the ones I visited were a bit disappointing. One was downright awful. Mr West and I only stopped because we needed a map we'd been too mean to pay the extra for the sat nav in the car hire package. That decision cost us dearly as a few days before I'd looked at a map on my iPhone and it cost me 40 quid! Anyway we used the stop to buy the map and to also fill up with fuel. As you know, you pay before you fill up over there and usually I don't mind this at all. But this time, I went into the shop and said: "Fill up on number six, please." I added that I had no idea how much this would cost and so the 'charming' lady behind the counter took my card and barked at me to stand close by. I was so scared, I froze. I gazed around the shop and it looked like the 'before' shot on a makeover show. Shelves were randomly stacked with goods, typically beef jerky and energy shots. And no, they had no maps!

Peter Harding - Retail technology consultant

It's the first month of the New Year and time to consider what can we expect to see happen in the world of technology over the next 12 months?

Shop Talk - Tracy West

Valentine's Day (February 14) falls on a Saturday this year, which is always good news for restaurants but I think it's good news for you too. That's because even though surveys say people are spending more on eating out in restaurants, many consumers just haven't got their confidence back yet to go splashing the cash. So instead they'll opt for a cosy night in. M&S has done wonders for the 'easy meal at home' market with its special deals but with all the cookery shows on TV you can bet there are some people men and women who will be showing off their culinary skills on February 14. Why not help them along? Not just with special deals but maybe some recipe ideas? Or, if you have an off licence, suggestions for which wine goes best with which type of food. Wine and cider suppliers say food pairing is a big trend. Thatchers Cider has been working with Tim Maddams famous for his work at River Cottage and award-winning Indian cookery teacher Bini Ludlow to create a series of menus and food pairing ideas. Its aim is to offer retailers new ways to engage with consumers.

Merril Boulton: Good year - good start

A happy and prosperous New Year to you all, and as we kick off 2015, it's not looking at all bad for the independent dealer sector is it?

James Lowman: ACS chief executive

Announcing business rates reform was the easy bit. Now the Chancellor has to work out what changes to this £26bn tax revenue stream will be fairer, pro-growth, fiscally responsible and popular.

Kevin Eastwood - BOSS executive director

About 900,000 times each year motorists drive away from service stations either without paying or having drawn fuel then claiming that they have no means to pay. These problems cost each forecourt retailer an average of £3,000 every year.

Shop Talk with Tracy West

Happy new year to you all let's hope it's a good one for you and your business. And, if you look at new research from Barclaycard, it seems things are already looking up as 2014 was the year when we all started spending again.

Merril Boulton: Criminally intense

Crime is certainly alive and well in the forecourt retailing sector and a scroll through the latest news on our website in the past few months is confirmation of that.

Brian Madderson - Chairman PRA

This year could mark a watershed for the beleaguered independent sector with several structural changes swiftly impacting prospects. The oil companies continue their orderly retreat from direct retailing (Murco, Esso, Shell) and we have been monitoring these disposals carefully. We predict that the independent sector could increase to more than 6,000 sites by the end of 2015, which would represent some 70% of all UK filling stations. It's a point that is being made to all interested government departments.

David Charman - Chairman CWA

The end of 2014 is fast approaching and a major subject on people's minds is UKIP and immigration. 'Take us out of Europe', they cry and send back the illegal immigrants to their country of origin.

Shop Talk with Tracy West

Christmas is fast approaching and as I write this, I'm thinking about all the things I've still got to do. These include wrapping presents then wrapping them again in brown paper and sending them off to far flung places before those pesky 'last posting dates'. December is, of course, the big one for parcels which got me thinking about all these new click and collect operations that have popped up.

Merril Boulton: Hang on to your hats

It's like someone has dug a big hole, and fuel prices are falling into it at great speed. It's actually quite weird seeing a price pole displaying figures of say, 122.9ppl for unleaded and 126.9ppl for diesel. They look more like museum pieces so long has it been since prices have been anywhere near that low.

Chris Hunt: UKPIA director general

In January, the UK's first Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) was launched. It was developed by the Downstream Oil Industry Distribution Forum (DODF) to deliver a consistently high level of training to all petroleum tanker drivers, verified by an accredited third party. It represents a benchmark by which all petroleum driver training is measured and gives confidence to terminal operators, hauliers etc that all drivers have been trained to the same high and externally verified standards.

Peter Harding - Retail technology consultant

Everywhere we look these days things seem to be cloud based. What does this really mean? Many companies give you free space on the cloud to store files such as photos. It seems the idea is that you get a small amount of storage for free and are then enticed to purchase more space as you need it.

Shop Talk with Tracy West

Christmas and the shopping frenzy that surrounds it is fast approaching. I know it's still only November, but as we have a festive edition of Product News I thought I'd add my festive tuppence ha'penny's worth.

Merril Boulton: Awards showcase

Excitement all round for the forecourt sector last month, what with the rather spectacular Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards (see full report, starting on page 49 and also the awards website www.forecourttraderawards.co.uk); and then the Shell announcement confirming the sale of around 250 sites.

James Lowman: ACS Chief executive

We have recently published the third edition of our annual look at the convenience sector, the Local Shop Report, which contains some great new insights into local shops, the people who run them and the communities they serve. The main story from the report is one of good news the sector is now worth £37.4bn, and is responsible for creating over 386,000 jobs in local communities across the UK. This is a significant increase on last year and means that c-stores have again outgrown the grocery market as a whole.

Kevin Eastwood: BOSS executive director

For more than 20 years BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate, has worked closely with fuel retailers, police, government departments and other agencies to reduce crime. So how disappointing was it to hear from Norman Baker, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention and the chief constable of Durham during the summer that they blamed retailers for customers who drive-off without paying for fuel? Very disappointing indeed, but it did highlight how ill-informed they are regarding the issues we face.

Merril Boulton: Murco sold at last

Well thank goodness for that. The Murco network has been sold at last (see News, page 4) after four years on the market. It got to the stage where it seemed like it was never going to happen, and as in a 'whodunnit' that runs for too long, people seemed to have stopped even wondering about who indeed would be 'doing it'.

Brian Madderson: chairman PRA

The recent news that the Klesch Group will acquire the UK refinery and terminal assets of Murphy Oil Company and that, around the same time, Motor Fuel Group will acquire its retail assets plus marketing and distribution to the dealers is welcome on several fronts.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 11 December 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East123.7065.90130.36121.00
East Midlands123.22132.06120.72
London123.2858.90131.75120.77
North East122.41132.57120.03
North West123.0453.80129.56120.69
Northern Ireland121.86125.50120.15
Scotland123.43130.00120.43
South East123.79130.52121.33
South West123.5451.70130.13120.95
Wales122.8952.90129.42120.12
West Midlands122.72130.53120.53
Yorkshire & Humber122.96133.33120.61

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