I get an alarm call at 6.30am as I am heading to London again, with a 45-minute train journey from Kent into Victoria. I have a breakfast meeting at Simpson’s in the Strand with the CEO of a fast-growing, independent fuel supplier who is going to be one of my panelists at PetroForum 2010 in Marbella, which I am chairing. We plan to discuss the downstream retreat of the major oil companies (MOCs) in the UK.
En route, my Blackberry vibrates and I take a call from the producer of ITV’s Wales Tonight programme confirming that I need to be at ITN’s London studios for a pre-recorded interview by 10.45am.
The subject is "The closure of rural filling stations in North Wales" so I make some notes about the damaging impact of the 2010 Revaluation Scheme for Business Rates and the effect of the Welsh Assembly’s decision not to provide any Transitional Relief.
Breakfast at Simpson’s is delicious but I’ve probably eaten too quickly. I agree with the CEO that good independents have a great opportunity should the MOCs not only close/sell refineries but also exit from retail. I make more notes and decide to ask UKPIA if I can make Powerpoint slides from its excellent report recently submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Then I take a taxi to Grays Inn Road. The ITV cameraman is waiting for me. He has decided to film the interview in the street. I make a start but a huge refuse vehicle lumbers past, revving its engine, so the interview is stopped. We re-start but a courier motorbike drowns the conversation so we stop again. We start again but this time my throat develops an irritation brought on by all the dust and fumes. The cameraman disappears inside for water. We re-start (again).
Eventually, he is satisfied and we bid farewell. The result is that the five minute slot on ITV Wales Tonight provides a balanced and sympathetic exposé of this completely unfair and harsh property tax with a good soundbite from RMI Petrol. I take a taxi to the offices of Financial Dynamics, the PR advisers to RMI.
There I have a meeting to review recent media activity, with rates and increasing forecourt fuel theft at the top of the list. We egree to offer Forecourt Trader an exclusive about the rates report from Barber Wadlow, commissioned by RMI Petrol, as it’s deemed too technical for the national press. We need more data on the theft issue.
I then head to RMI’s London office. I meet staff to review our all-important membership drive as without robust support and funding, the rebranded and refocused RMI Petrol would wither on the vine.
There’s excellent news as the big groups like Malthurst, Park Garage, Snax 24 and Motor Fuels Group are all signing up for membership.
I draft some notes for the next issue of our recently-introduced E-News, which is proving very popular. I follow up calls from BBC Radio Lancashire and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, which both want interviews on aspects of fuel pricing for their Drivetime Shows. We agree the angles to be covered, exchange contact names and details and confirm times. I note that I will be at King’s Cross station waiting for a train to a retailer group meeting near York at the time of the interviews, so I will have to find some quiet corner for these ’live’ interviews.
The BBC producers are comfortable with the interviews via my Blackberry after a quick trial.
I then start work on the Powerpoint slide for PetroForum. Julian Philips RMI’s head of commercial services is a whizz with computers and soon has a terrific presentation under way.
I head back to Kent in the late afternoon and answer some 20 emails.
Another 12-hour day is finished, which is way more than I had anticipated in my semi-retirement, but the challenge of re-energising and rebuilding the old Petrol Retailers’ Association into a modern, all-inclusive, pro-active trade association was just too exciting to miss.
Company: RMI Petrol
Job title: Chairman
Career history: Started as chairman on November 1, 2009. Previously MD at George Hammond plc with petrol retailing and shipping services business units.
Greatest achievement: Persuading the Dover Harbour Board to build a new, deep-water cargo terminal for fresh produce which enabled Hammond to become one of the top two UK ports for handling bananas and other exotic fruit.
Tips for business success: Never burn your bridges and always seek new opportunities
Most likely to say: "Let’s try this approach"
Least likely to say: "It is not possible"
Other interests: Golf, gardening and family