Less than a year after its relaunch, the Regent-branded network of independent dealers has grown to 30 outlets, says Andrew Cox, Regent’s manager of equity distributor sales in Europe. Cox believes Regent’s revival by Texaco after a 30-year absence has been helped by the brand’s long history. “Many people already know Regent,” he says. “It’s just a case of reminding them.”
Cox says the typical minimum volume criteria set by most oil majors for a branded supply contract is too high for the smaller independent sites. “Regent has been able to meet the needs of this market because it involves the supply to retailers via the Texaco equity distributor network, while giving them a recognised brand that can add value to their business,” he says.
“The regional office infrastructure provides retailers with effective support and a flexible delivery service. Regent branding can also include a suite of the latest card processing facilities with competitive merchant fees.”
Regent stations are supplied using a fleet of smaller vehicles from 28 regional offices across England and Wales. While any fuel retailer can apply to join the Regent network, the brand focus of ‘Local service, national strength,’ is ideally suited for small or rural sites with another source of income such as a convenience shop, repair workshop, car hire or car sales business.
“We only started to actively market the Regent brand last August, so to have 30 outlets already is a strong start. I’m sticking with our target to have 150 Regent outlets within the next five years,” says Cox.
Crown Garage in Leek, Staffordshire, owned by Peter Lawson, has gone back to the Regent brand after almost 60 years trading under various brands, including Repsol, Shell, Texaco and, most recently, Murco. Peter signed up to Regent in the late 1940s and continued with the brand until it was sold in the late ‘60s.
Going back to Regent has sparked a feeling of nostalgia not only for Peter and his wife Dulcie, who also works in the family business alongside their son David, but among some of Crown’s customers. Peter says: “We have several customers who remember the old name of Regent and they’re chuffed to bits.” The dominant part of Peter’s business, which has been going since 1937, is the car workshop and MOT centre “but we rely on the forecourt to bring in customers”.
Doug and Deena Bradford, of Fenn Garage on the Isle of Grain in Rochester, Kent, have been with Regent since January and wished they’d gone with Texaco earlier as it could have saved the fuel business on a second site now devoted to car repairs. The company, FR Bradford and Co, was set up in 1920 to sell and repair bicycles. It sold BP fuel from the 1940s to 1996, after which it was forced to go to the National brand. Then the contract was sold to Kuwait Petroleum.
“We were branded Q8 for three years, and with the marketing policy at the time couldn’t make it work on our second site, so we had to stop selling fuel from there,” says Doug. “Then Q8 disappeared and, although we wanted the Texaco brand at Fenn Garage, we were persuaded to go with Regent by area manager Lorraine Williams, who has looked after us. Our customers seem happy with the brand.”