Forecourt Trader
Fuel back on track after delivery chaos

The last quarter of 2005 was one of the worst periods ever for fuel deliveries to retailers, according to PRA director Ray Holloway.

Loyalty for Pace

Pace Petroleum has launched a new site loyalty scheme for its dealer network. Known simply as the Pace Loyalty Card, the scheme replaces Q8GO, which has been closed down following the sale of the company by Kuwait Petroleum in October 2004.

Roley leaves as Jet re-shuffles

Jet’s charismatic brand and communications manager, Roy Roley, (pictured right) is to leave Jet at the end of February.

Top indies dinner at IFFE

The industry’s top independent retailers will be brought together for an exclusive dinner to coincide with the International Fuel & Forecourt Exhibition (IFFE) in Birmingham in March. Forecourt Trader has been rating the leading indies, with the results to be published in our March issue. The dinner will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Birmingham, on Monday March 20 and will feature a top industry speaker, as well as a special guest. Torex Retail, Gallaher and Coca Cola are among those sponsoring the event. A limited number of tickets are still available, costing £100 plus VAT. Call the ticket hotline on 01293 867628.

Award-winner Susie will open IFFE 2006

Forecourt Trader of the Year 2005, Susie Hawkins, will open IFFE 2006 at the NEC, Birmingham on Sunday, March 19. She will then hot-foot it along to the show’s Forecourt Live! area to deliver an inspirational talk. She certainly should be an inspiration to petrol retailers, as she won the award aged just 28, which made her one of Forecourt Trader’s yougest-ever winners, plus she was the first female solo entrant to pick up the industry’s most prestigious prize.

Kenbury buys SDL

Retail solutions provider Kenbury Services has acquired Softoption Developments (SDL), which specialises in the provision of off-the-shelf pc-based hardware to address the needs of petrol and convenience retailers.

Henderson's plans £18m spend in 2006

Northern Ireland’s Henderson Group has announced plans to invest £18m in its company-owned estate in 2006 – including significant investment in its forecourt businesses.

Full service at Central

The Petrol Division of United Co-operatives has continued its expansion and refurbishment programme with the launch of Central Service Station at Radcliffe in Manchester.

FPS Exhibition

FPS 2006, the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers’ exhibition for the oil distribution industry, will take place at the Harrogate International Centre on April 5 and 6. With more than 100 stands, the FPS says this year’s show is its biggest ever. It runs in tandem with the Distributor 06 conference where key issues and trends will be discussed.


The major oil companies have been announcing bumper profits for 2005.Esso’s parent company ExxonMobil, had a record-breaking year, making a net income of $36.13bn – an increase of 43% on 2004. Shell also reported record results, with profits of $22.9bn. Soaring oil prices are said to be behind the increases. BP is due to publish its full-year figures later this month.

Fuel prices: January 30, 2006

Pumping up shop sales

Fears that pay-at-pump technology could have a detrimental effect on forecourt shop sales have been dispelled in a new study by shopper research specialist HIM.

Shop Doctor: Local Service Station/Mace, The Mount, Shrewsbury

After a great visit to the fine medieval town of Shrewsbury, while heading west towards Welshpool on the A458 I was able to make a stealthcheck on a service station. My target was the Local Service Station and Mace Express at The Mount, which is about a mile from the centre of Shrewsbury.

Database: Winter blues

As if the cold, dull days weren’t enough to depress us all, almost every year the winter months tend to bring figures that make grim reading in this industry, and this one is proving to be no exception. Although at the time of writing we are still compiling the final figures for 2005, there is already enough in the way of statistics to suggest that it was a lousy year for petrol retailing. True enough, fuel volumes seemed to have recovered from a poor start and between April and November were much the same as in 2004 – no mean feat considering that many motorists found the steep price rises last year were seriously affecting their spending power. Some commentators even suggested that for the first time since the 1970s fuel prices were actually starting to affect drivers’ car usage habits.

Service Centre: Contract? It's in the post


Driven to succeed

Nerve and determination. That’s what it takes to invest £1.65 million in a new state-of-the art service station development at the age of 59 – and Mike Dransfield has it in bucket-loads.

Main route to success

Teamwork seems to be the name of the game in the main route category, with two married couples extending their partnerships onto the forecourt with great success.

Q&A: Chip & PIN

What does the February 14 deadline actually mean?

Secure your future

Latest figures released by the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS), show that in 2004 forecourts lost £16.3m through drive-offs and a further £5.1m thanks to drivers who claimed they had ‘no means of payment’ for their fuel. Add in robbery, burglary and other thefts and the total losses rise to at least £26m. However, progress is being made. New solutions are constantly being developed and the industry continues to fight back to ensure the crooks don’t win.

Spring into action

On Valentine’s Day (February 14), while most romantics prefer to ‘say it with flowers’, chocolate is the second most popular gift. According to Giftrak data, Valentine’s sales increased by 9% in 2005, to reach £342m and average spend per gift was £25.42. For forecourt retailers wanting their piece of the action, convenience is the key as 91% of all Valentine’s Day gifts were bought at the last minute, in the seven days before the event. This means you need big, bold displays in the path from the door to the till or even right next to the till, to jog the consumer’s memory and get them to spend.

Chairs lift sales

Non-food shop promotions are now an established part of the forecourt offer, and the market is filling up with companies offering forecourt-focused products, ranging from lighters and torches to radios and even pruning shears. With margins around 30% and management of the category fairly low-key, it’s easy to see why this area has really taken off. Products are typically items of high-perceived value that are put on special promotion in the store with highly visual pos.

Edensure's hot product

February sees the launch of a new remote wet stock management service targeted at independents, called Edensure ES3. Martin McTague, managing director of Edensure Ltd, describes it as the most advanced wet stock management service available in the UK, designed to help independents tackle the huge problems of wet stock loss, be it through leaks, temperature shrinkage, over-dispensation or short deliveries.

HTEC sets the Pace

Pace Petroleum is to roll out HTEC’s Hydra Chip & PIN Outdoor Payment Terminal (OPT) to their unmanned petrol retailing sites. The company currently has six totally unmanned forecourts. The new terminals will update these sites to Chip & PIN technology.

OPT trial success

A recent trial by VBi, retail and fuel management system specialists, has found that Outdoor Payment Terminals (OPTs) are popular with customers. Results showed that as awareness and confidence in the technology grew over a two-month pilot, average sales increased by 10%.

New labelling system for Bake & Bite

Country Choice has launched a new labelling system for its Bake & Bite range. The new package offers a simple, low-cost solution to labelling any County Choice product and includes branded labels, a ‘ready-to-go’ printer (no PC required) and full after sales support.

Muffin makers

Rational has developed a new easy-to-use muffin tray to go with its Self Cooking Center. The tray comes in two sizes, with either 12 or 24 non-stick moulds. Retailers just fill the moulds with muffin batter and select ‘Sweet Baking’ on the Self Cooking Center.

Walkers' new look

Walkers has announced a £20m relaunch of its core crisp range following a reduction in fat and salt content – said to be the most significant change in the brand’s history.

Drinking in the fruit

Hero, the Swiss-based food group, says it is introducing a new category of ‘drinking fruit’ to the UK. Fruit2day combines fruit pieces with purees and juices, to provide the equivalent of two portions of fruit in one 205ml bottle.

Lynx launches new smellies

Leading male grooming brand Lynx has launched a new fragrance, Click, supported by a £7m marketing campaign featuring film star Ben Affleck. TV and cinema ads for Lynx ‘Click’ break this month and are the first to feature a celebrity in the brand’s 21 year history.

A hive of activity

It’s been a busy few weeks for the tobacco companies, with activity including a launch, pack redesigns and a new UK distribution deal.

Bigger bar none

Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB) is increasing the bar size of its large-block Cadbury Dairy Milk range. From this month the current 200g bar – said to be worth £140m in retail sales – will change into a new 250g size block.

Aero indulges itself

Nestlé Rowntree is targeting the indulgent confectionery consumer with the launch of Aero Chocolate Truffle. The new impulse bar takes the same slim format as Aero Caramel and combines smooth chocolatey truffle on milk chocolate Aero bubbles in a milk chocolate shell.

Cherry flavour for Diet Coke

Coca-Cola Enterprises is aiming to build on the continuing success of Diet Coke with the launch a new cherry variant. Volume sales of Diet Coke grew by 4.3% in 2005 and the brand has been increasing its appeal to men. New Diet Coke with Cherry has performed well in tests, with 75% of respondents saying they would buy it. The launch will be supported by advertising and sampling.

Mini snacks

Red Mill Snack Foods is launching a mini sausage snacking range.

Pepsi's smooth ride

PepsiCo is spending £5m on the relaunch of PJ Smoothies, which it acquired last year. This will include new-look packaging and flavours as well as a TV advertising campaign with the slogan ‘Want fruit, Drink Fruit’.

Mingles has it in the bag

Bendicks has added a new hanging bag to its Mingles range. The company says the 100g bag is the first premium mint chocolate assortment available in this format. It has performed well in consumer trials, and helped boost incremental sales of the Mingles boxed lines.

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

SO HOW DID YOUR December end up then? While the High Street as a whole had a late revival, discussions with my friends seem to point to forecourts having a pretty thin time of it all. Volumes and margins were OK, and once upon a time that would have been enough to make us happy bunnies. But that was in the days when your shop sales were the froth at the top of the glass. Now it’s the other way round and from all accounts most people’s shop sales were significantly down. The cause is not hard to find. It’s those bloody hypers again. Remember when we used to sell loads of confectionery selection packs, boxed chocolates, after dinner mints etc? Then there were all those extra soft drinks and crisps. More recently, those of us who had invested in alcohol had the added bonus of those last-minute cans and bottles of wine. When the likes of Asda, Tesco et al sell at prices at or below our cost levels, it becomes impossible to compete. Who’s going to buy a box of Milk Tray for nearly £6 when you can get a 1.2kg tin of Celebrations for £5? And with larger scale purchases, like two cases of beer for £16, the scope for last-minute top-ups diminishes – our customers are awash with the stuff.