Jet dealers in the southwest have expressed disbelief and disappointment that ConocoPhillips has decided to withdraw from the region by the end of the year, and branded the timescale for exit as inadequate.
The retailers were given two days’ notice to attend a meeting last Thursday at which Patrick Hudson, Jet’s marketing manager for retail, delivered the news that its transport fuels operation in the southwest was no longer viable.
Barrie Richards, owner of Jet-branded St Blazey Service Station in St Blazey, Cornwall and RMI Petrol’s representative in the southwest, as well as former Jet dealer council chairman, told Forecourt Trader: “We are clearly very disappointed, if not stunned; it came as a complete surprise.
“Patrick Hudson said that the operation was loss making with declining volumes in the southwest and limited possibilities for growth within a competitive landscape, and a low number of prospects. There was a vigorous debate and a great deal of consternation from the floor and disbelief at what was being said.
“The length of notice is considered to be completely inadequate in order to execute a change of supply,” added Barrie. “Particularly considering the time of year – winter time – when everyone in the southwest is pretty much closed up.”
Barrie and the owner of Maynes Vauxhall in Redruth and Jet’s dealer council member together, Guy Bennett, have since formed a group comprising 27 of the Jet dealers affected in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall to act a single voice in seeking resupply.
Said Barrie: “Since that time we have made contact with likely future partners and co-ordinated details in an organised and proper way and we are pleased to say we have already had a considerable response. It is too early to say how it will pan out. We are 27 sites that are not going to let this get to us and we will work together to get resupply and I’m sure in the funnels of time we will achieve that. Whether the timescales are reasonable or not will remain to be seen.”