Forecourt Trader
Fuel prices - February 28, 2008

RSPB demands halt on biofuels

Environmental campaigners have called on the government to cancel plans to introduce biofuels at the petrol pumps next month over fears they may actually cause more pollution than than fossil fuels. The RSPB has urged members of the public to email Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly to ask her to supsend the introduction of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) - due on April 15 - which will

Service centred

Wilcomatic is one of the longest-established names in the UK car wash business, and last October it ensured its future as the UK's sole 'independent' wash company following a management buyout from major motor retailer Inchcape.

Touting for business

Phil Tout knows that stocking his store's shelves with healthier products equals one thing - healthier sales. When Phil decided to knock down his Esso forecourt in Nailsea, north Somerset, and build a much bigger and more modern version, increasing the amount of fresh and premium food and drink was a priority. And the 4,000 sq ft Budgens store, which opened in November, has certainly not

Using their Initiative

Chevron's Bright Horizons programme aims to give dealers access to a network of support services. According to the company, there are about 800 directly supplied Texaco-branded sites and 300 supplied via distributors in the network who all have access to the programme.

Cool customers

The chilled and fresh foods category is the last big unexploited opportunity in forecourts, according to Andrew Grant, director of trading (convenience) at Palmer & Harvey (P&H). "The supermarkets do this category superbly well," he says. "Just look at a Tesco Express where half the sales are of chilled lines whereas in some forecourts chilled accounts for just five or 10%." He reckons forecourts should be looking to get 20 or even 25% of their sales from chilled foods. "If you don't invest in chilled you'll never get the sales. Chilled is where the market is going and all the better retailers know this."

Something to chew over

If you haven't updated your chewing gum offer lately, you could be missing out on one of the fastest-growing areas of forecourt sales. That's the message from the two main chewing gum manufacturers who are churning out new and innovative products aimed at capturing consumers' imagination.

Early starters

Nutritionists are always saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The reason? Well according to studies, people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, they have a higher intake of key vitamins and minerals, and are less likely to suffer from colds than those who skip it. However skip it we do. According to Kellogg's Mind the Gap report, 23.5 million adults and almost four million children miss breakfast regularly. Time - or rather lack of it - is a key factor, with many people dashing out of the house in the morning on an empty stomach. But this is, of course, good news for forecourt retailers who can offer customers the chance to fill up on fuel, for their cars and themselves, on the way to work.


A long time ago I devised my own Petrol Retailers master calendar. In truth this wasn't exactly a world-beating breakthrough in the science of retailing, but with the little modifications I made each year, it grew into a very useful document. Basically the calendar started by listing any event that could possibly bring in extra sales. It then worked backwards so that it prompted you to start sourcing products and devising strategies far enough in advance to ensure you could maximise your potential when the 'event' arrived.

IFFE: a forum for car wash debate

Car washes will be a key part of the International Forecourt & Fuel Equipment Show (IFFE) as it will be the venue for an open meeting of the Car Wash Campaign Group, which will take place on the Monday morning of the show (April 7). The Group's aim is to represent the interests of responsible car wash sites and campaign

FPS tells MPs to drop EDM

The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers' Forecourt Division has been encouraged by the initial replies to its letter urging 52 MPs to reconsider their Early Day Motion, which called for retailers to match the recent decline in oil prices by reducing the price of their fuel. A spokesman for the FPS, which asked MPs to consider the negative impact

Gulf attracts new retailers in Cumbria

Two independent retailers have switched to the Gulf brand in Cumbria, saying they have been attracted by the company's understanding of local markets. PV Dobson & Sons in Levens and Rayrigg Motors in Windermere are the latest sites to join the Gulf fraternity in the Cumbrian region,

Petrol retailer wins Londis store award

A forecourt scooped the top prize at the Londis Store of the Year awards. Blair Girvan's c-store in Aberfeldy, Perthshire won the 'best forecourt store' category then went on to take the awards' top accolade. Blair, who has run the shop in Dunkeld Street for five years, received his award at a prestigious ceremony at the Harrogate International Centre.

in brief

Sign maintenance company Xmo Strata has been working with global engineering company ABB to create a safer means of valeting fuel forecourts. In accordance with the Working at Height Regulations 2005, the two companies have managed to minimise the need for working above ground level during a complex nationwide cleaning programme on 88 Esso 'On the Run' sites.

Results of this month's online poll:

Following the recent Early Day Motion, do you think MPs should have the right to force petrol retailers to drop their fuel prices?

Commission cop-out

Petrol retailer Paul Sykes probably sums up what most in the industry thought when they read the Competition Commission's latest report on the UK grocery market. "It came as a disappointment - but not a surprise," says the Shaws Petroleum managing director. "It shows that they haven't a clue about what's really going on."

In the surgery this month – Crowland Service Station, nr Peterborough, Cambs

A previous issue of Forecourt Trader featured a story about Jim and Wendy Bamford, who decided to run their own business. Securing a six-figure loan from the Bank of Scotland, they purchased a garage with a refitted c-store at Crowland near Peterborough - Jim was going to run the garage and Wendy the Total petrol station and Mace shop.

Criminal culture

By its very name, this column has traditionally been based on statistics. However this month marks something of a change. It's a basic fact of EKW's business that we speak with large numbers of petrol retailers each month and sometimes the feedback that we collect from them, spread across the whole country, becomes so consistent that it almost takes physical form. One such manifestation has been quite obvious over the past couple of months, but it is almost impossible for us to quantify in our preferred way with any degree of accuracy: theft.

Service Centre with Jac Roper

== The price of power ==

Staffsafe abuse alert

A new system has been launched to help staff who have to deal with verbal abuse, harassment and anti-social behaviour in the workplace.

Recycling batteries

G&P Batteries has introduced a service to help recycle used batteries in the workplace.

Water bill pay points

Anglian Water has teamed up with Payzone and the Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank to let customers pay their water bills at forecourt shops. Anglian Water, which includes Hartlepool Water, says the move will provide extended water bill payment services to its 2.5m customers. Shoppers can pay bar-coded bills or make free regular instalments using booklets and plastic cards at any of the 17,000 Payzone retailers in the UK. 08705 134360

A CCTV video 4U

A website has been launched to offer advice and reviews to retailers looking to buy CCTV or security systems. The site, [], offers video demonstrations, industry news and reviews from site users of hi-tech security systems. CCTV4U managing director Duncan Griffiths says: "They say a picture is worth a thousand words so a video must be worth a million. That's why we're using it on our new website to show off the market-leading CCTV security systems. It can be very difficult for ordinary people who aren't familiar with this kind of system to decide what best suits their needs. But demonstrating them online using video is the obvious way to overcome this."

Walkers' Brit packs

Walkers has put £5m behind the launch of a new on-pack promotion which offers consumers savings on trips around Britain - from theme parks to traditional pub lunches. Walkers 'Brit Trips' will benefit from a strong marketing campaign which includes a new TV creative featuring Gary Lineker driving an old London bus and singing an alternative version of 'Summer Holiday'. Radio

A real taste of home

Heinz is hoping for a bigger slice of the dessert sector with the launch of two ambient products: Taste of Home gorgeous classic creamy custard and delicious creamy rice pudding.

Guinness boost for St Patrick

Diageo is investing £3m in promoting Guinness and St Patrick's Day in stores.

Joss' Flake moment

Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB) has signed up singer Joss Stone as its first celebrity Flake Girl.

Old El Paso twosome

Old El Paso is firing up sales of its Mexican food range with two new products.

Mars' tempting two new ices

Mars has launched two ice cream products aimed exclusively at the impulse sector. New Galaxy vanilla & chocolate temptation cone is targeted mainly at women. Rrp is £1.25. It will be backed by Galaxy's £9m advertising campaign.

Hoops get healthier

United Biscuits is giving Hula Hoops a makeover and extending the range, with the activity backed by a £2m TV campaign.

Red Bull flies high

The Red Bull Flugtag is set to soar back into London's Hyde Park on June 7. The man-powered flight competition will see 40 'loopy' teams attempt to take flight in flying machines they have built themselves.

Magnum's star signing

Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria has signed up with Unilever to be the face of the Magnum ice cream brand for its 2008 advertising campaign.

Rolling out Strollers

In a bid to breathe fresh life into the sausage roll category, Wall's has launched a new meat snack - the Stroller.

Tropicana: a real smoothie

Pepsico has launched Tropicana into the smoothie market.

Pringles on the run

Pringles is breaking away from its traditional crisps- in-a-can formula with two new launches this spring.

Mint condition

Bendicks of Mayfair is helping retailers make the most of this spring's gifting opportunities with its quality range of boxed chocolates.

ACS calls independents

A key event in the independent retail calendar, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Annual Summit, is coming up on April 24, and is set to be the most inspirational yet.

Liquorice leads the race

English speciality toffee maker Walkers Nonsuch is shouting about the success of its liquorice toffee bars and twistwrap toffees.

Have a break

KitKat increased its value sales by a whopping 10% in 2007 and to celebrate, Nestlé Rowntree is giving readers the chance to win outers of the popular chocolate countline.