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

Day in the Life: Talking to customers is a key part of Simon's job

The alarm goes off at 5.30am to signal the start of another working day. I gulp down a quick orange juice, remember to grab my Kindle so I can read The Times on the commute in, then dash to my local station to get the 6.32am train to Waterloo.

I'm usually in our Cavendish Square offices at around 7.40am, have a quick chat with Martin our ever-dependable doorman, then up to our first floor, open-plan offices where my first task is to put on the coffee machine.

Once I've got my caffeine fix, I'll check on the overnight emails and also the morning report from our transport and logistics operator Suttons. They'll have made over 150 deliveries totalling some five million litres to our commercial and retail customers in the 24 hours since this time yesterday. At the same time, I'll check the fuel stock levels for the Royal Mail depots across Britain. We've held the fuel supply contract with Royal Mail since last October, and obviously it's important that we keep one step ahead of the game.

By now most of the Logistics team will be at their desks, checking their emails or on the phone to our haulier and taking orders from customers. I'll catch-up with them for 10 minutes or so to find out how they're doing.

Next job is to check Platts and see how the market closed last night. The market's been really volatile of late with daily swings of more than 1ppl not uncommon. Danielle will have inputted the market numbers into our system by now so that we're ready to start our spot commercial sales once the market gets going from about 9.30.

I spend a fair bit of my time talking to our customers, as do all of the team. Business is all about building long-term relationships and trust and you can't achieve that just by pinging emails. It's important to be available to answer queries and give advice when people need it.

At Harvest Energy we have a strong reputation for being 'nice people to do business with' and while it's something we work hard at, it's also part of our DNA.

Last night I got a text from Sarves, our original Harvest Energy dealer, to let me know that the old Gulf site that he bought and reopened four weeks ago has just achieved 12,000 litres sales in a day for the first time. Given the site had been closed for more than two years, it's always good to see that there are opportunities out there if you can find the right site, market it properly and, of course, pick the right brand! Sarves has three sites with us now and is about to secure a fourth so we're delighted we've been able to support him as his business has grown.

Two or three days a week I'll have a catch-up with our chief executive officer, Janet Ashdown, to discuss big picture issues and opportunities. In July Harvest Energy was jointly acquired by the Irish telecom entrepreneur Denis O'Brien (the owner of Digicell) and Trafigura, the world's third largest independent oil trader. While it's still very much 'business as usual' for our customers and staff, the financial backing and support of the new owners provides us with a strong financial platform for our future growth.

A quick sandwich at my desk, then it's a conference call with Lee Woods, who manages our biodiesel production plant on Teesside and retail key accounts manager, Ian Welch to discuss a site visit.

Late afternoon I meet with Trace Houseman of Studio One, the design agency we've used for many years now. The Studio One team is responsible for the blue and green Harvest Energy image which can now be seen at almost 100 branded retail sites across Britain. We went into retail supply just over three years ago and our success with independent forecourt owners to date shows there's room in the market for a new player that is committed to working with owners as true partners.

I leave the office some time after 6pm to get the train back home. In through the door, dump my bag and sort myself out a glass of wine and start to wind down end of another typical day.


Name: Simon Davis

Job title: Head of sales and logistics, Harvest Energy

Career History: began with Ultramar Golden Eagle in 1986 and subsequently joined Kuwait Petroleum. Then onto Morrisons, then Safeway, as director of petrol filling Sstations. Joined Harvest Energy in 2005

Greatest Achievement: being made a director at Morrisons the youngest ops board electee after Sir Ken Morrison himself

Tips for business success: Always act in a fair and reasonable manner; don't make promises you can't keep; and listen to your customers

Most likely to say: "It's not black and white, it's shades of grey"

Least likely to say: "We'll need to refer that to the Retail Brand Committee"

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 15 January 2018
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East124.9460.90131.85122.27
East Midlands124.34132.31121.54
London125.0662.90132.42122.10
North East123.94133.63121.07
North West124.1658.50132.51121.18
Northern Ireland123.4169.90128.40120.85
Scotland124.5774.90130.88121.33
South East125.1561.40132.52122.48
South West124.73130.24121.91
Wales124.44128.57121.19
West Midlands123.7465.23132.27121.20
Yorkshire & Humber123.9161.90132.74121.12

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