It’s all change at Pace Fuelcare. In the past year it has changed both its name it was previously known as Pace Petroleum and its head office, which has moved from Staines in Middlesex to new premises in Egham, Surrey.

And now the fuel distribution company is rolling out a new brand image. Philip Wharton, Pace Fuelcare’s general manager, says the company has listened to dealer feedback on the visibility of the brand, and redesigned it with a stronger, more modern look. Wharton says: "We believe it’s as good as anything in the marketplace. The feedback from retailers is that it gives sites a fresh image."

Pace Fuelcare is a subsidiary of Top 50 Independent MRH (GB) Ltd, and manages the MRH commercial sales and distribution business, of which, according to Wharton, the dealer business is an integral part. Sipping from his Leeds United mug, which takes pride of place in his office alongside his family photos, Wharton says the company-owned side of the business had quite a lot of input into the new-look branding, which has so far been rolled out to about 35 dealer sites.

All in the brand

Wharton who hails from Yorkshire, hence the Leeds United mug joined the company via Q8 Petroleum 15 years ago, before it was bought by Refined Holdings Ltd, the joint venture company that evolved into MRH (GB) Ltd.

He stresses that one of the strengths of Pace is that it can be very flexible and cater for smaller dealers significantly most Pace Fuelcare retailers are single-site owners selling around 1mlpa. This year the company hopes to add at least 10 more sites. "We’re willing to look at dealers of any size," confirms Wharton. "We recognise what a huge decision it is for a dealer to change supplier and believe that the branding is a big part of that we want their site to stand out. We also recognise every site is different and, as dealers ourselves, we understand what’s important when it comes to branding and operating a site.

"But we value the retention of dealers as much as signing new sites. Personal contact is very important. Our relationship with dealers is everything. Come to us if you want to be with a company that values you."

Pace Fuelcare’s business which includes a large domestic heating, agricultural and commercial fuels’ business operates from a network of 19 of its own depots and 10 other ex-rack supply points. Coverage includes the Midlands, East Anglia, South/South East, South West, the Isle of Wight and Scotland. It recently bought the Cowes terminal on the Isle of Wight from BP and works with Tate Fuel Oils of Otley, which manages the Pace-branded dealer sites in Yorkshire. Wharton says that, as one of the biggest fuel buyers in the UK, Pace has recognisable sway with its suppliers. And its owned fleet of more than 100 trucks of all sizes gives it considerable flexibility. He adds: "Some of our drivers have been with us for 30 years and are excellent ambassadors."

Another initiative is the Pace Fuelcare Card Services (PCS) credit card package. The rates are described as competitive, with the same schedule of rates available to all sites whether they have 1,000 or 5,000 monthly transactions. Pace also offers Mobil lubes to dealers.

Wharton says one of the biggest challenges facing retailers is cash flow and Pace has tried to adopt a "sensible approach" to helping them.

However, in spite of all the recent changes, one thing that hasn’t changed is Wharton’s passion for the dealer business. If retailers leave he says he "feels every loss very personally". For more information on Pace Fuelcare, visit stand F269 at IFFE.