Forecourt Trader
Act now to avoid car wash closure

Retailers should be campaigning for the curbing of roadside car washing, following the announcement of drought orders last month, says independent retailer David Charman of Parkfoot Garage, who has just had a bore-hole installed on his forecourt to ensure water supply to his car washes.

Don't give up

With the ever-increasing duty on tobacco said to be fuelling a boom in counterfeit products and forcing consumers to down-trade to cheaper brands, retailers, manufacturers and smokers alike were hoping Gordon Brown would give them a break. However, the Budget in March saw yet another rise, this time of 9p on a packet of 20 cigarettes.

Roll with the changes

Gordon Gekko may have thought lunch was for wimps and dear old Del Boy might have agreed, but forecourt retailers don't want to wimp out on their lunchtime offer because there's just too much to lose. According to Mintel, UK consumers spent £27.5bn on eating out in 2005, and within that, around £7bn was spent on lunches. Of course there are numerous businesses vying for consumers' lunch money but if you get your offer right then you're guaranteed repeat business.

'Essentials' plan for 94 Somerfield sites

Somerfield is to significantly increase its brand presence in the forecourt sector, with the start of a demanding store development programme throughout 2006/2007 on the sites acquired from Texaco and Fuelforce last year.

PRA backs ES3 as industry standard

The Petrol Retailers' Association is backing Edensure's ES3 wet stock monitoring service and its efforts to improve retailers' efficiency and profitability.

Dealers get better offer

Murco has extended its dealer package by renewing its membership to Garage Watch and rolling it out to all its 244 sites throughout England and Wales, plus any new dealers who sign up in the next 12 months. Previous membership had only covered 74 sites on the Garage Watch 'Happy2Help' scheme for the elderly and disabled motorist.

Innovation the key to BP staying ahead

BP is driving innovation in the forecourt c-store sector in the face of tough competition, said Andy Davis, BP Retail's trading director, at last month's annual ACS conference - now rebranded as Summit 2006 - in Birmingham, attended by nearly 300 delegates.

Pit stop screen clean

BP has just completed a four-week Pit Stop Screen Clean campaign to boost awareness of its Ultimate range of advanced performance fuels.

Dealer groups drive convenience growth

Independent dealer groups are set to drive future growth in the forecourt convenience sector, according to the IGD's Convenience Retailing 2006 report.

In brief

Pace Petroleum is switching 22 of its forecourt stores from Budgens to Spar. The transition will take place between now and the end of the year. Pace/Malthurst already trades with all five of Spar's mainland UK regional distribution companies via 20 of its existing sites.

Fuel prices: May 31, 2006

It's a bore

What could turn out to be the driest summer for 100 years has given many petrol retailers in the south east some sleepless nights. With car washing one of the three main profit centres of a petrol retailing business - alongside petrol and the forecourt shop - the merest hint of having to shut down this key part of their operation, has sent some retailers into a blind panic.

In the surgery this month

I had to be in France for a few days and thought it would be interesting to make a 'stealthcheck' on a French forecourt site. And, in order to be able to directly compare and contrast with the UK, I decided to visit a Bonjour/Total site as I'd reported on my visit to the Bonjour/Total site in Towcester for a recent issue of Forecourt Trader. My chosen location was Etaples, just outside Le Touquet, which is between Boulogne and Abbeville on the D940 coast road.

So much data so little time...

A couple of months ago we mentioned that despite the apparent myriad of information sources available to them, many operators seemed to be more in the dark about the state of their business than ever before. The point was that on many forecourts reports were being churned almost non-stop, but nobody had the time to read them - let alone try and form some coherent picture of what was really going on. The response from a number of retailers since that article has been 'so it's not just me then!'. No, you are not alone. Information overload might feature all across our culture, but it does seem to have hit petrol retailing pretty hard already. Take just one example.

Chips down at Shell

News that Shell has been hit by Chip & PIN fraud couldn't come at a worse time as it's just weeks after national adoption of the technology. However, the good news is the criminals did not get past the new Chip & PIN system itself, but instead used a skimming device to copy information off the magnetic strip. They then used cloned cards to steal money from accounts. Shell confirmed the problem and as a result has suspended the use of Chip & PIN at its 300 company-owned sites. Its dealer operated sites have also been advised of the situation.

Service Centre with Jac Roper

Last June I reported about the case between Sheffield Racial Equality Council (REC), acting on behalf of a black Caribbean customer and Ayub Karmada, who runs Beeston Service Station in Nottingham.

Man with a mission

As the mobile phone lying on the desk suddenly erupts into the theme from the film 'Mission Impossible', its owner - Ron Haacke, who runs Petrol Express Ltd - chuckles: 'Mission impossible - that's the game I'm in."

TV licences via Paypoint

Paypoint will become the sole provider of TV Licensing's over-the-counter licence payment services across the UK from July 31.

ReD on a roll-out

Payment card issuer Retail Decisions (ReD) has extended its partnership with Morrisons, meaning its fuel cards will now be accepted at all of the supermarket chain's 274 forecourts. Phil Maud, petrol director at Morrisons, pictured below left, with ReD's chief executive Carl Clump, said: "This development sees Morrisons becoming the first supermarket chain to fully embrace fuel bunkering." Clump said ReD had one of the largest independent site networks available.

Coffee servers

Two new pieces of kit are available for retailers looking to offer take away coffee. The new Nescafé Accolade Platinum Colibri (pictured below) is a compact vending unit which dispenses premium quality latte, cappucino and hot chocolate in branded 9oz paper cups. The self-service machine also serves up traditional tea and coffee and has been specifically designed for smaller environments. It has a capacity of about 100 cups and is available as a table-top unit or with a base to create a stand-alone machine. A coin validator can be attached and there is a change-giving coin mechanism available with the base cabinet.

New vending machine

Rustlers has introduced a new vending machine for its range of hot microwaveable snacks.

Provenco Shell deal

International technology company Provenco is to supply an electronic payments system and outdoor payment terminals to more than 200 Shell petrol stations in Belgium. This is the first European deal for the New-Zealand based company, which has already worked with Shell in the Asia Pacific region. It has been described as an exciting milestone, with success in the European market seen as being critical to the company's global strategy.

The zero hero

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has announced what it claims is its biggest launch since Diet Coke hit the shelves 22 years ago. New Coca-Cola Zero is backed by a massive £8m campaign this summer and will offer consumers a third way to enjoy Coke. Aimed at young men, the product has zero sugar like Diet Coke, but is said to have a fuller flavour which is closer to that of original Coca-Cola.

Trebor's cool move

Cadbury Trebor Bassett has two confectionery launches for the summer. Available now, Trebor Extra Cool is a new sugar-free mint and is backed by forecourt-specific activity, with free samples being distributed in sites nationwide.

Panasonic powers up

Panasonic has launched the Power Station, a new counter-display solution for its batteries.

Double bubble from Red Bull

Red Bull is running a special price promotion on its new two-pack format. Available now, the launch case price will be £12.99 for a limited time only, giving a promotional RRP of £2 a pack (the non-promotional case price will be £13.89, to be sold at a standard RRP of £2.20).

Poppets go retro

Fox's Confectionery is re-launching its Poppets brand this summer with new-look packaging to highlight the nostalgic qualities of the sweets.New packs feature retro icons such as Rubik's cubes and the Paynes name has been reintroduced on-pack.

No-Germs bird boost

Recent tests by a leading British laboratory, Retroscreen Virology, have confirmed that the No Germs instant hand sanitiser can kill the bird flu virus H5N1 before it has a chance to enter the body. Made by Advanced Formulations, the product is already sold in Moto, Welcome Break and First Break and is said to kill 99.8% of germs without the need for washing with water. It is also alcohol-free so won't cause hands to dry out and crack.

Unilever gets fruity

Unilever is investing £12m in the launch of AdeZ, its first new major brand in 12 years. It is a range of chilled fruit juices blended with soya protein, vitamins and minerals. The brand is already sold in South America, where it is known as AdeS. Targeting the £1.6bn juice category, the product also aims to build on the increasing popularity of soya by making it more accessible. There are three variants all of which come in 1ltr Tetra packs. A support package includes TV advertising from July and a sampling campaign.

Polo offers tons of tenners

Nestlé Rowntree's mint brand Polo is giving consumers the chance to win instant cash prizes with its 'scroll in the hole' promotion starting this month. Sales are expected to increase as shoppers try their luck at winning £10 notes, which have been hidden inside 1,000 tubes of Polo original. Retailers should have promotional packs in prime positions in store, ideally by the till, to capture additional impulse sales, says Graham Walker, sales communications manager at Nestlé.

Loads more dough

Cuisine de France has launched three new soft-bake baguettes in plain, multiseed and onion & nigella flavours and six bagels, including sesame and poppy seed.

Mo'gas: An irreverant view from the network

SO NOW WE WILL ALL have to work until we are 68 before we get a state pension. Well, actually, you will have to work until you're 68 - I won't because I'm an old fart who's been around so long I will still be able to put my feet up at 65. Not that I ever envisage that will be the case - as I mentioned last month, the prospect of spending 24/7 with her indoors doesn't bear thinking about.