Visitors flocked from far and wide for the three-day International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment (IFFE) show at Birmingham’s NEC last month. Running alongside the Convenience Retailing Show (CRS), the event gave retailers the chance to check out the latest products and equipment for both the forecourt and the shop.

With five oil companies exhibiting, as well as the presence of major franchising companies like Subway, Darren Rose-Neal, IFFE sales manager, said this year’s show had been one of the most exciting to date. "Since IFFE switched back to an annual event the show has gone from strength to strength," he said. "And next year looks set to be even better, with 45% of space already booked."

Keith Jewers, managing director of Gulf Retail, was equally impressed: "We were delighted by the number of dealers that visited. We had three very busy days, the show appeared to be well attended and the quality of exhibitors reflected well, both on the event and the industry," he said.

IFFE 2008 will be held at the NEC from April 6-9, running alongside CRS and the biennial Food & Drink Expo.


l Stage II Vapour Recovery was a major theme, with several companies showcasing their offers, particularly Gilbarco Veeder-Root, whose technology manager, Marek Kurowski, gave a well-attended presentation in the Business Solutions area. He stressed how important it is for retailers to make decisions for the long term: "There are various options being offered by all the major pump manufacturers and other companies. You need to have all the necessary information before you start," he said.

Kurowski added that there were three major things to consider, whichever solution is chosen: certification, monitoring and on-site installation & maintenance. First, he said, you should check the certification standards and ensure that these cover all aspects of any system being considered. In terms of monitoring, he explained, there were two options - carrying out manual weekly tests or having a system with automatic monitoring, which only needs testing every three years. Finally, he stressed the importance of ensuring equipment was installed by a properly qualified engineer, and recommended retailers check whether or not their pump maintenance agreements covered Stage II and any monitoring systems.

Gilbarco also presented a new wireless tank gauge, the TLS-RF, which allows fuel retailers to install automatic tank monitoring in situations where it would previously have been too costly or impractical to fit the necessary wiring.

l Indigo Retail made three major announcements, including the signing of a reseller agreement with New Zealand-based Provenco Group, which will see global products, including the G5 outdoor payment terminal, brought to the UK. Indigo also revealed it had merged with Epos Engineers, boosting its service infrastructure. It has also agreed an exclusive strategic alliance with German companies IBW and ERST to provide a Stage II Vapour Recovery solution.

l Torex Retail was showing its Clean Air Stage II solution, which it says not only captures fumes, but condenses them back into liquid petrol which can then be re-sold. Also on the stand were the latest CCTV systems, developed in partnership with Big Brother and Lee Rose, and energy control systems to save money on electricity for lighting, refrigeration and heating.

l Car Wash UK launched a new nitrogen tyre inflation system, which can stand alongside or work in tandem with normal air lines. Managing director, Mike Ambrose, said retailers can charge up to £2 per tyre. Nitrogen is said to retain tyre pressure for longer and is already used by car dealerships - as well as Formula 1 teams and passenger aircraft.

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At CRS, food-to-go was a major focus, with demonstrations for visitors at the Sandwich & Snack Solutions feature.

l Country Choice displayed its latest solutions and new products including hot and chilled pizza formats. The Bake & Bite Shop within a Shop equipment package was also on show. Marketing manager Carine Munch said it had now been installed on 10 sites, including several forecourts, one of which is a knock-down rebuild site in the Channel Islands, owned by the Le Riche group.

l Cuisine De France used the show to launch a rival food-to-go concept, called Cuisine to Go. The concept includes modular equipment solutions, tailored to the size of outlet, a wide range of hot and chilled products and new packaging.

l Finally, with 2007 a big year for tobacco legislation, Gallaher ran a series of presentations. Forecourt sector manager, Steve Palmer, reported feedback from Scotland where forecourts were out-performing the rest of the market, including multiple grocers, following the ban there.