Plans to boost the number of Jet sites by 30%, and a raft of initiatives aimed at enhancing the brand’s retailer package were announced at last month’s Phillips 66 annual dealer conference, held in the plush surroundings of Gleneagles, Scotland. At a convivial gathering of more than 200 delegates, including retail and commercial customers, Pete George, the company’s managing director, UK & Ireland Marketing, says: "Since our re-organisation 18 months ago, we’ve been reviewing the best way to drive the Jet brand forward and taking our time to ensure that we get things right.
"The global market infrastructure for fuel is changing and the time is right for Jet which celebrates its 60th anniversary next year to take a different approach. We now feel that we’re in a very strong position to achieve our ambitious growth plans of increasing the number of Jet sites in the UK by 30% to our target of 400 sites by 2018.
"As a network, we always put our dealers at the heart of our business strategy, so it has been vital for us to further enhance our dealer offering by investing heavily in programmes and initiatives to set exemplary standards across all of our Jet forecourts. Some examples of our renewed dealer proposition include the forthcoming launch of a new fuel card, our new standards and services programme, state-of-the-art LED lighting solutions, as well as a range of new promotions and brand partnerships."
George agreed that the company had been rather quiet on the dealer side since the division in May 2012 of its US parent ConocoPhillips into two companies essentially one upstream and one downstream and the creation of Phillips 66: "We had just gone through a reorganisation ourselves, and we announced that about a week before the split, so there was always the capacity to get a bit distracted. The process of splitting a company like ConocoPhillips into two was pretty major. We suddenly became a company that was focused on mid-stream and downstream, refining and marketing not in the service of what was going on upstream."
As well as digesting the changes since 2012, George says staff have been going out consulting with its dealers: "We knew dealers wanted more activity from us and we’ve been weighing up what we needed to do. At the same time we’ve been aligning our refineries in Ireland and particularly the UK. At the time of the split we knew the landscape of the global industry was changing and we identified the fact there would come a time (due to fracking) when the US suddenly didn’t need all the imported products and they would swing round to exporting. What’s taken us by surprise is how quickly this has happened."
However, the company’s five-year plan has now been signed off by the powers that be at the Phillips 66 Houston head office, and they coincide rather fortuitously with the 60-year anniversary of the Jet brand next year.
"Our wholesale side has always been pretty good," stresses George. "We have about 15% market share, and our intention is to grow that. Which is why our time, attention and resources are turning much more to the dealer side of the business, because we now believe we’ve got a great dealer package.
"The reason we’re feeling positive about our growth plans is down to the fact that what’s happening in the US is putting a lot of pressure on refineries in the UK and Europe. But we believe our refinery in Humber is one of the most sophisticated in Europe and we will use it to leverage growth. It’s the only refinery in the UK that makes coke, which makes it profitable. From a supplier perspective we’re feeling secure. Altogether we have 26 locations we can get product out of, the big ones being Humber, Manchester and Kingsbury."
In terms of building its Jet dealer network up from its present tally of 312 to 400 in the next four years, Phillips 66 will target new areas such as the north west and further north in Scotland, as well as its existing stronghold on the eastern side of the UK. "We’re flexible, we know the dealers know their business, and our remit is to support what they want," says George. "We are in the process of recruiting more staff so we have more ’feet on the street’.
"We want more dealers to join us because we believe with the skills they’ve got, coupled with what we can bring to the party, the combination is fairly powerful in terms of what can be achieved. We won’t leave dealers high and dry. We’ll make sure they have product no matter what’s happening in the marketplace."
Another key aspect of the resurgent Phillips 66, will be the manner in which its goals are achieved. "All of my organisation next year will be measured 50% on what they’ve achieved, and 50% on how they achieved it," explains George. "We have very clear behaviours in terms of what we expect from staff. The Phillips 66 US leadership team is passionate about how we operate. Its three key values are safety, honour and commitment. This is not rocket science, but you can’t buy it, you have to instil it.
"We’re really delighted with the way Phillips 66 has got off the ground. We love the culture it’s sending down through the organisation, and just at the time the Jet brand hits 60 years old we’re revitalised by it all. We’ll be much more active, and we’re really optimistic about our future in the UK.
"We need to make people aware we haven’t gone away far from it. We have a long-term vision for the company for the next five to 10 years."
* Proud to be Jet Standards & Service programme will start in January 2014 to assess, benchmark and set aspirational goals for all Jet dealers.
* Brand enhancements include new fully illuminated LED polesigns, LED three-dimensional canopy pods and LED under-canopy lighting.
* Expansion of card cross-acceptance across major forecourt brands.