Bad enough having a house to sell in uncertain economic times. But following Murphy Oil’s recent sell-off announcement (see News Extra, page10) how do you go about selling a refinery when you get the distinct impression they’re fast going out of fashion plus there are three others (out of eight!) already on the market. I’m not sure ’location, location, location’, or a quick lick of white paint will do the job.
Luckily, the refinery sale part of the deal is not the concern of retailers. The mind-boggling financial and technical nature of these complexes means only huge corporations need apply. Depots, distributorships and networks may be of interest though if companies like MRH and the format established in America is anything to go by. There is currently much activity as certain oil companies seek to offload variously located forecourts...
But what retailers are concerned about as a consequence of these potential refinery sales is the intentions of the oil companies who want to get rid of them. In other words, what happens next?
For the moment, it seems nothing much. According to the spokesman for UKPIA none of the refineries up for sale have attracted a buyer so far. But in the future will the major brands start receding from view, weakening a marketing advantage that those sites sporting a BP, Esso or Shell logo enjoy? Will the smaller fuel brands come to the fore? Or could this be a great opportunity for more independents to give their own unique offer and style of business more prominence on the forecourt as companies like the Park Garage Group does with its Park & Shop brand?
Location is the most important factor in where motorists refuel, according to fuel pricing and marketing specialist, Andreas Jonason of Simon-Kucher & Partners, (see page 23). So as long as you’ve got that bit right, and you have a viable and attractive offer across the business whether it covers fuel, coffee or a pack of butter isn’t that the way to real independence?