The year kicked off with grim tales following the rollout of Chip & PIN, with many retailers encountering problems. Asda triggered a price war with its 3ppl petrol price cut; and THI UK launched the world’s first motorbike washing machine.
Chip & PIN hassle continued with confusion over acceptance of credit and debit cards from disabled drivers. Concerns were also aired over the proposed high cost of alcohol licences; while Torex Retail acquired Flexiline Forecourt Services Ltd in a deal worth £2.1m.
Texaco did a ‘Jet’ by announcing the proposed sale of its company-owned network, kicking off with the sale of 140 sites to Somerfield. BP retail director Graham Sims predicted bigger peaks and troughs in the retail fuel market.
The latest figures on the service station network revealed a radical restructuring as more than 450 sites closed, with oil company-owned sites accounting for the majority of those.
Shell unveiled its plans for 100 ‘clusters’ – groups of six or more company-owned sites, operated by one organisation. Total rolled out its new premium unleaded and diesel fuel – Excellium – which it claimed would improve fuel consumption, care for the engine and create less pollution.
The end of Fuelforce is in sight as its investors pull the plug and packages of its Jet-branded sites are sold off to companies such as Murco Petroleum, Somerfield and Malthurst.
Shell goes one step further than Esso and announces plans to withdraw from the whole of Ireland – Esso had previously revealed plans to pull out of Northern Ireland.
Shell’s Irish network is snapped up by Ion Equity, while Maxol Group chief executive Tom Noonan, was encouraged by the withdrawal of the majors from the Irish market.
The shakeout of the industry continues as Texaco sells 60 sites to Pace Petroleum; Morrisons prepares to sell 30 former BP/Safeway sites to Tesco.
Lady of the moment – Forecourt Trader of the Year winner Susie Hawkins – is paraded on the cover following another successful awards evening. Meanwhile, C21, a new brand and forecourt package for independents is launched; while Jet’s longstanding Smile@ promotion bids goodbye.
The Association of Convenience Stores seethes as Tesco’s acquisition of 21 former BP/Safeway sites from Morrisons gets the go-ahead from the Office of Fair Trading.
Oil giant Esso shocked all and sundry by embarking on a recruitment campaign to sign up new dealers – 100s of them, according to the company’s dealer boss Timo Halonen.