This seems to be one of those times (there have been others!) when everything comes to a head, and petrol retailers could be forgiven for thinking someone’s out to get them. This month’s issue kicks off with the expected, but nevertheless, grim news about business rates. It seems to hit the majority of retailers right where it hurts because those in the three to seven mlpa category bear a "disproportionate burden", according to one forecourt rating specialist. Shop sales are capped at £2 million, working nicely in favour of the supermarket operators. Great.
Then there’s the government’s proposals for implementing a tobacco display ban (see News Extra page 11). This has been discussed and debated on many occasions, but as we get closer to the inevitable, this is the first time we have seen the details of what’s likely to happen. The proposals are described by the ACS as being "the most costly and disruptive display ban of its type in the world". Charming. So get your skates on. You’ve got two months to make yourself heard and then you’ll be stuck with whatever is decided. If you need help, contact the ACS. Further on in the magazine there’s the issue of the heavy burden being imposed on the fuel industry in order to comply with eco legislation (see Focus on Fuels, page 27). We’re getting an increasing number of calls from low-volume fuel retailers wondering whether the raised cost of tank and pipework maintenance needed to accommodate the growing ’bio’ content of fuels will render their businesses unviable. Many are rural retailers, and just to reinforce that ’nails in the coffin’ feeling, along comes UKPIA with its report ’Fuel supply to rural filling stations’. The conclusion? "The economics of having petrol sales alone are insufficient to ensure a sustainable future for rural sites." Luckily most retailers have already realised that. But before you shoot yourselves, be sure to read about Sewell Retail. Inspirational. And there’s always next month’s issue to look forward to!