Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Deadline looms for alcohol licensees

Alcohol licensees were up in arms as Licensing Minister James Purnell announced that the new licensing laws will fully come into effect on November 24.

Meals on wheels

As more time-starved drivers take to the road in the UK, so the need for meals on the move continues to grow, with forecourts being the prime destination for travelling motorists.

Taking control

Motor fuel is the forecourt retailer’s key commodity, and with margins so tight it is crucial that none is ‘lost’ unnecessarily. However, wet-stock loss remains a real problem for most petrol retailers with issues such as leaks, vapour loss and even faulty equipment meaning there can be large variances between the fuel the retailer buys in and the amount that is sold.

Rise of the machines

Plastic may be convenient but sometimes only cash will do. So if your site has an ATM you can bet that many consumers will choose it – to fill up their cars and their wallets at the same time. There are around 55,000 ATMs in the UK. Most are linked to banks and building societies but there are a growing number of options available for forecourt operators willing to invest in their own machine.

Shell’s Irish network snapped up by Ion

Shell’s all-Ireland network of 55 petrol stations, 35 fuel distribution depots and six oil-importing facilities has been bought by venture capital group Ion Equity.

Irish battle against Tesco forecourts

A plan to step up efforts to block the development of more Tesco service stations in Ireland is being launched by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.

Drivers’ fuel challenge

The trend for fewer forecourts is creating a challenge for drivers – particularly those using a restricted fuel network, according to Arval, which describes itself as the UK’s leading supplier of fuel cards.

BP uses Nectar data to target motorists

BP has renewed its long-term agreement with loyalty card Nectar, and at the same time revealed a trial using data gleaned from the loyalty card to reward customers with appropriate vouchers.

Oil market buoys economy and life

The UK downstream oil industry makes a significant contribution to the UK economy and everyday life, according to the 2005 Statistical Review, published by UKPIA, the trade association

New retail deal for Blueheath

Delivered wholesaler Blueheath has won the contract to supply forecourt dealer Motor Fuel Ltd in a further boost to its UK forecourts network.

Fast lanes DO drive loyalty, says HIM

Retailers should not be put off from introducing pay-at-pump fast lanes because of a fear of losing shop sales, according to latest findings from Harris International Marketing’s (HIM) Convenience Tracking Programme.

News in brief

TOREX RETAIL has further strengthened its offering to independent petrol and convenience retailers with the acquisition of CTN Systems – a specialist epos provider in the independent and newsagent market. The acquisition will give Torex 5,000 installations nationwide.

Fuel prices August 2005

Data supplied by Catalist Ltd

Drive-off chaos

The government’s attempt to downgrade drive-off crimes has been picked up by the Association of Convenience Stores, which is fighting on retailers’ behalf for the Home Office to reverse its new policy.

The Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum, Perthshire

The Green Welly Stop is situated on the A82 at Tyndrum, Perthshire – the gateway to the Highlands. It is some two hour’s drive north west of Edinburgh and an hour south of Fort William. It is at about the mid-point of the popular West Highland Way, the long distance footpath that joins Glasgow and Fort William.

Little empires = big headaches

The concept of multi-site operation is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Over the next few months we expect to see the emergence of many ‘little empires’ as some readers are offered the opportunity to take on five, six or more additional sites from their ‘parent’ oil company network. So let’s look at some of the more practical business issues you’ll face.

This should keep you posted

You would think that, if you had the best convenience store in town, with a forecourt to boot, plus parking, plus a customers’ petition supporting your application, that you would get the sub post office when the sub postmistress in the village decided to retire from her little ‘centre-ville’ shop.

Tampering with the brakes

My piece in the July issue about police efforts to put the brakes on drive-offs brought a bit of a scoff from a retailer who runs a filling station in Plymouth but wishes to remain anonymous. He writes, via email: “If we are not careful, petrol station operators could see an increase in drive-offs thanks to the very recent amendment on how police treat drive-offs. For the police to be involved now there have to be ‘aggravating circumstances’ – ie a stolen vehicle. Once the individuals with their swivelling, IQ-reducing baseball caps get to hear of this, they could have a field day at our expense.”

A good result

In the April issue I carried the tale of Andrew Fraser who works at a couple of Hills Garage’s forecourts in the Northwest. He was about to be taken to court by Cumbria trading standards – along with a load of others in the area – after the TSOs had mounted a series of test purchasing stings. He pleaded not guilty and I’m happy to report that, in June, he was given a conditional discharge. “Basically I got a caution. They (trading standards) were not happy to back down.”
Tom Noonan, chief executive of the Maxol Group: "When we see an opportunity arising, we move quickly on it"
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Firmly routed

As the giants of the fuel industry continue to prune their branches, it lets in more light for the smaller brands to flourish. And so it is for The Maxol Group, the Irish, family-owned oil company, which is finding that while life at grass roots level is still tough – particularly following the arrival of the supermarkets – there are positive signs for the future.
Mike Willman came into the forecourt industry two years ago after 30 years in the pharmaceuticals business
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Apple of his eye

Such is the intensely competitive nature of today’s fuel retailing market, that you’re more likely to be saying goodbye to fellow retailers than welcoming new ones into the fold.

No more false alarms

False fire alarms cost the retail industry tens of thousands of pounds every year, which is why Call-Systems Technology (CST) has developed AlarmAlert, a system that, in trials, reduced false alarms by 90%.

Zoom, zoom, zoom

Bosch has improved its AutoDome camera systems with enhanced optical zoom range up to 26 times without loss of sensitivity and picture quality. In addition, the AutoDomes have an extra x12 digital zoom boost, to give a total zoom range of over 310x. The improved cameras are said to offer an ideal surveillance solution for retailers including forecourts.

Midsummer madness at Car Wash UK

Car Wash UK is running a ‘midsummer madness’ promotion on Ceccato Advant Plus rollover systems. Managing director Mike Ambrose has announced that the company is offering a new, ex-stock Advant Plus rollover car wash to the first five buyers to come forward with £21,999 – £5,500 below the normal selling price.

Count on it

Volumatic’s new Omal 309S coin sorter has been designed to sort and count large volumes of mixed coin denominations at high speed.

Rocket to take off

Rocket Fuel, the energy coffee brand, has unveiled a nationwide campaign to support the Department for Transport’s Think! driver tiredness initiative.

Pringles in singles

Pringles is launching a mini variety on September 12. The new variant is not just a small pack, it’s a mini version of the snack in a mini pack. Original, sour cream & onion, and salt & vinegar varieties are available in single packs which retail at 29p; five-packs at £1.18; and 10-packs at £2.09.

iPod’s mini adventure

Walkers is giving away an iPod mini every five minutes of every day, throughout September.

Join Heinz for cricket

Heinz is launching a cricket promotion for independent retailers. Running across three key categories – sauces, beans/pasta meals and soup – from now to October, the promotion invites retailers to join The Heinz Cricket Club. Membership gives them the chance to win cricketing memorabilia. One lucky retailer will win the top prize – an opportunity to meet the international cricketer of their choice.

Minute Maid gets fresh

Coca-Cola Great Britain has launched Minute Maid Froot Refresh. The new juice drinks come in 330ml PET bottles with a rrp of 89p. They are made from a blend of 50% juice and water and no added sugar.

Twins for Jelly Babies

Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB) has extended its Jelly Babies range for the first time since the sweet’s launch in 1918.

Colourful gum launch

New from Wrigley is Hubba Bubba Colours – a bubble gum that colours chewers’ tongues blue or green.

Maltesers makes a Smart move

Masterfoods aims to drive sales of Maltesers by giving retailers the chance to win a new Smart car. The prize draw is running at more than 150 cash and carry outlets nationwide from now until October.

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

SO, SUMMER HOLIDAY time again. I don’t know about you, but once upon a time I couldn’t wait to get on that sun-lounger. Get the old suntan cream on, order up a couple of drinks and just lie there and frazzle. Guess it must be a sign of me getting older (or perhaps that I’m not working hard enough!) but now, after a couple of days of unwinding, I find I’m bored and restless.
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Weekly retail fuel prices: 10 June 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East Midlands134.59140.57129.69
North East133.19142.40129.15
North West134.1363.90139.73129.13
Northern Ireland131.34135.32128.05
South East135.2562.40141.74130.52
South West134.5167.90140.57129.57
West Midlands134.34140.64129.70
Yorkshire & Humber133.72140.40129.24

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As ESSO and BP join Shell and Gulf in launching new loyalty programmes this year, are such schemes a key tool for businesses today?