Topaz Energy Ltd has announced a €50 million investment and expansion programme to create a new brand – Topaz – in the Irish fuels and retail business. Three hundred and fifty Shell and Statoil stations and 100 convenience stores are to be rebranded as Topaz, as well as the creation of 400 new jobs. The programme aims to “redefine the service station experience”. Topaz is one of Ireland’s largest privately-

owned companies, has a turnover of more than €3.5 billion a year and has more than 1.5 million customer transactions each week. Set up just three years ago, the company bought the Irish retail and commercial fuels businesses of Shell and Statoil in 2005 and 2006 respectively. It is the largest fuels business in the country.

The new Topaz brand will replace the Shell and Statoil brands in the Irish retail and commercial fuels market. It will be applied over the coming weeks across the company’s network including: 350 Shell and Statoil Service Stations; 250 Trucks; 100 Convenience Stores; its market-leading commercial and aviation fuels businesses;7 Sea Terminals; its home heating business.

Danny Murray, chief executive of Topaz Energy said the company’s ambition was to redefine the service station experience for Irish consumers: “We want to put the consumer at the heart of our business model and get away from the big oil approach to retailing. “We’re looking forward to working through our directly owned stations and through our dealer and distributor networks to transform the offering for Irish consumers.”

Murray said the company already had a substantial non-fuel retail business: “We’re much more than just a fuels retailer. We have 1.5 million transactions each week. Each year we sell four million cups of coffee; eight million cold drinks; two million sandwiches; five million newspapers and 14 million confectionery products. And in the coming years we want to double the value of our non-fuel sales.”

The €50 million investment will include the refitting and re-branding of all existing company stations and assets, the acquisition and development of a number of high-profile new shops and service stations at greenfield sites, and a multi-million euro advertising and marketing investment. The first two Topaz branded service stations and stores in the country opened today at Dublin Port and at Citywest in Dublin.

Murray was speaking at the official unveiling of the new Topaz brand today in Dublin. The event marks a key milestone in the merger of the former Shell and Statoil retail fuels businesses in Ireland and will herald the withdrawal of both these international brands from the Irish forecourt. Shell Ireland was first set up 106 years ago, and the predecessor of Statoil – BP – set up in Ireland in 1924.

The company has been preparing for the new brand launch for over a year and has already merged the head office operations of the two businesses.

Company chairman, Neil O’Leary, said the company would be driving extra profitability from its extensive roadside estate: “We have one of the biggest retail property banks of any business in Ireland and we see huge potential to grow profitability”.

“Our goal is to transform the way consumers engage with our sites and increase profitability by creating a new consumer experience. We want to expand the products and services we have available for consumers and increase the average spend by consumers in our sites.”

Topaz is the largest fuel distributor in the market and a significant force in the convenience store business.

Earlier this year, its parent company Ion Equity Ltd recently acquired independent UK fuel supplier and blender Blue Ocean Associates Group which supplies five per cent of all road fuels used in Britain – 1.8 billion litres a year – as well as selling around one billion litres of blended fuel products internationally. The deal included the businesses of Harvest Energy which blends and supplies fuels to large companies in the UK including supermarket chains and transport operators, and was at the centre of last year’s contaminated fuel furore in which thousands of motorists broke down.