With significantly more exhibitors than last year, and bigger stands - despite the economic climate - the International Forecourt & Fuel Equipment show (IFFE) 2009 promises to be a must-attend event for all those involved in the petrol retailing sector.

The show takes place at the Birmingham NEC from March 1-3.

One big source of excitement is the number of oil companies that will be there - seven in total. They are BP, GB Oils, Gulf, Harvest Energy, Murco, Pace and Power. Their presence reflects the importance of IFFE in the forecourt industry’s calendar, especially as it coincides with Forecourt Trader’s prestigious Top 50 Indies dinner which takes place on Monday, March 2.

As to what the oil companies will be telling visitors, BP will be talking about its franchise business - BP Connect and the Wild Bean Café.

Gulf personnel will discuss the company’s award-winning shop consultancy, which it says has seen dealers across the UK significantly boost incomes and profits. Gulf will also talk about the new ReD card account deal and the new range of high-performance high-tech lubricants for motorsport. And visitors to IFFE will get a taste of motorsport as Gulf’s Le Mans-winning Aston Martin will be on display at the show.

IFFE 2008 was a big success for Harvest Energy, so sales manager, Mike Skinner, has high hopes for this year’s show: "We are looking forward to being overwhelmed with enquiries that will lead to our business portfolio increasing considerably over 2009."

GB Oils will be talking about the benefits of its package, which it already supplies to more than 700 retail dealer sites. These benefits include competitive deals on fuels and lubricants and a team of specialist retail advisers.

And Murco staff will discuss the company’s "progressive shop development programme". It currently has more than 450 sites and boasts one of the most flexible dealer agreements in the marketplace.

Meanwhile Pace Petroleum reckons it offers a support package that’s "as comprehensive as you would expect of any major supplier".

And Power, which is a wholly-owned equity division of Total UK (the fourth largest oil supplier in the world), says it has the flexibility to respond to independent petrol retail dealers’ needs and assist them in the development of their business whether they are looking to change contract or prefer to buy their fuel on a spot basis.

Other exhibitors include Dresser Wayne, Gilbarco Veeder-Root, HTEC, Istobal, Karcher, LP Gas, Tokheim, WashTec and Wilcomatic.

The Car Wash Association (CWA), formerly known as the Car Wash Campaign Group, will also be exhibiting at the show. The organisation wants to recruit more members to help work for best practice in the sector as well as create a level playing field for anyone offering car wash services.

The CWA will be holding an open meeting at IFFE on Tuesday March 3 at 11am, hosted by Forecourt Trader editor Merril Boulton.

It will be held in the ’Take More, Make More’ area. Take More Make More comprises seminars and panel discussions where visitors can ’take more information away with them to help them make more profits’.

Sessions include ’Reasons to be Cheerful’ on Monday March 2 at 11.30am. This will be chaired by Convenience Store editor David Rees. It aims to put into perspective the challenges and opportunities of the current economic climate.

Sandwich chain Subway is back at IFFE and its stand is always popular with visitors. The company is performing extremely well in the UK and is looking to sign up more franchisees.

With forecourt business now closely linked with the grocery sector, IFFE runs alongside the Convenience Retailing Show (CRS). Tickets to IFFE give visitors free entry into CRS.

Visitors to CRS and IFFE will be given a voucher booklet containing exclusive show offers. Among the IFFE exhibitors offering savings are Best Safety Solutions with 10% off all services; Surfwash, which is giving away a free chemical start-up with its new touchless car wash; and Tate Consumables, which will give visitors 5% off any order placed at the show.

New for 2009 is the Café+@CRS section where exhibitors, including the Handmade Cake Company and Pepsico, will be showing off their ranges. Café+@CRS also includes the Café+Live event where operators can learn how to make more money from food-to-go. There will be something for everyone at Café+Live - from those who haven’t yet tried food-to-go in their outlet to people who have a food offer but want to develop it further. There will be a particular emphasis on coffee and the profits this can deliver if you get it right.

Event director Matthew Butler says: "Staying one step ahead of the competition in these difficult trading times is crucial, and exhibitors will be on hand to offer their expertise. We understand the difficulties for operators to take time out from their businesses, but as well as the networking opportunities, we believe they will find a day at IFFE will prove informative and profitable."


=== the lowdown ===

* IFFE takes place at the Birmingham NEC from March 1-3.

* Opening times are Sunday March 1 and Monday March 2, 10am to 5pm; and Tuesday March 3, 10am to 4pm.

* For more details log onto [http://www.forecourtshow.com]


=== What’s new at IFFE ===

l Air-Serv (stand F11) will be introducing a new triple-purpose unit which offers vacuum, air freshener and mat cleaner.

l Best Safety Solutions (stand D29) is launching a new fire-risk management and training package which is approved and accredited by the Institute of Fire Engineers. It also supports the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) 2005. Packages include basic fire awareness, and fire extinguishers in the workplace.

l The Energy Institute (stand D08) will be launching its 2009 UK Retail Marketing Survey at the show. Free copies will be available from the stand. Usual price is £60.

l First Advance Tanks & Pipes (stand C38) will be launching Pet-track, a remote tank-cleaning machine which enables tanks to be cleaned without man-entry and which can be recorded for client viewing away from the site.

l Graphite UK (stand G41) will be launching a new division called Energy Level Systems. This will focus on the supply and support of specialist forecourt products including wireless fuel transfer control equipment and crossover delivery prevention devices.

l Karcher (stand H30) has a new car wash. Called the CB Flex, it is designed and built specifically to meet individual customer requirements.

l LP Gas (stand H21) is relaunching its DTVC and TVC temperature compensation systems. The DTVC system is a temperature compensation retrofit kit which compensates for any variation in product delivery temperature by recalculating the fuel sale to 15?C.

l Petroman Environmental Services (stand D11) is launching three new systems: total vapour management for Stage 1B and Stage 2 vapour; tank sampling cleaning and ethanol preparation; and fuel treatment and decontamination.

l TLM Group (E41) will be introducing the VR Refiner, a system that converts all vapour from tanks back into liquid petrol for immediate sale.

l WashTec (stand H20) will be launching five new products: a rollover; an air and water tower; a jetwash; a vacuum; and a jet wash chemical.