Q8-branded dealers will be able to retain their branding until the end of their existing contracts, according to Brian Handley, general manager of Pace Petroleum, the new company running the former Kuwait Petroleum retail and distribution network. The business was acquired in September by Refined Holdings, a newly formed joint venture between independent retailer Malthurst, and property and investment companies, the Winston Group and the William Pears Group.

Q8 branding on the 70 or so company-owned sites, however, will disappear within the next nine months, as supply contracts on these sites have been put out to tender with oil companies and could result in a mix of fuel brands being displayed.

However, as to the fate of the Q8 dealers – which number about 300 – Handley, the former retail head of Fina until its merger with Total and Elf, is keen to quell speculation: “Contrary to reports by the competition, Q8 branding will remain in place until the end of the dealer contract,” he stressed. “There will be no pressure on any dealer to change branding – even if the contract has five years to run. Because many of the Q8-branded dealer sites are in rural or semi-rural areas, the fact they might be the only one left with a Q8 pole sign doesn’t matter, as their customers are locally based.

“However if the Pace proposition makes sense, that could also be an option for dealers.” Having been in the job for just a matter of weeks, Handley said it was too early to talk about the company’s plans. “What I can say is that we are currently putting together a brand proposition which we will be marketing in due course.”

Meanwhile its business as usual at Staines, minus former KPGB md Gerrit Ruitinga and retail boss Tony Bacchus.