Forecourt Trader
Top indies on track for expansion

Most of the biggest petrol retailing independents still have their eye on expansion, despite the curent economic climate, according to the data gathered in our latest Top 50 Indies listing, published as a supplement within this

Customers queue up to use services on redeveloped site

Customers queued for the opening of a £1.25m forecourt redevelopment in Gloucestershire last month. Millwood Motor Company's refurbished site in Cam includes a 150sq m Spar store, Shell petrol and a car wash.

Maximum effort, Mini prize

Benny Cherian, a cashier at a Texaco site in Skippool, Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire, has a won a Mini for his efforts in promoting Texaco's loyalty card. As part of the launch of the brand's Star Rewards scheme, forecourt staff were encouraged to help customers sign up for a loyalty card. Twenty cashiers received £500 each, with Benny receiving the top prize of the car.

MRH seeks contracts on 150 sites

The UK's leading independent petrol retailer, MRH (GB), is looking to re-negotiate the supply contracts on half its forecourts - around 150 - which come up for renewal next year.

in brief

== Fuel price counts ==

Blizzards are 'snow' problem for Xmo Strata

The recent snow was no problem for sign installation and maintenance firm Xmo Strata. The company's crews braved blizzard conditions across the country to help keep forecourts open for motorists.

New BP loos are far from bog standard

For years many petrol stations have been infamous for their poor toilets - but not any more.Visitors to certain BP sites are in for a treat as new loo facilities include bright images of the

Customer focus is the key to survival

Having a clear vision of your customers and what they want, together with the flexibility to innovate, are the two keys to surviving the recession, says KPMG/Synovate Retail Think Tank's latest white paper.

Consumer cash spend in decline

Sixty five per cent of people are using less cash in a bid to control their spending, says a new report from ATM network operator Link. However the survey, conducted by YouGov, also found that 33% of people are using more cash. It found that for December and January, the total value of cash withdrawn

MP to open £1.25m forecourt


BP, Exxon Mobil and Chevron see profits soar


Doubts over drive-off fine

The industry has been left dazed and confused by the government's u-turn over plans to introduce an £80 fine for drive-offs.

Drive-off penalty confusion

Well, first let me say, how can there be such confusion over the proposals about the introduction of on-the-spot penalties for drive-offs? Firstly, the suggestion of a drive-off penalty was buried among the 'extra measures' being proposed to add to the current Penalty Notice Disorder. Then all of these proposals - which included an £80 fine for shop staff selling tobacco to under-18s - were withdrawn almost as soon as they were announced. By all accounts the government seemed to be enacting the penalties without any apparent consultation. And now there seems to be no answer to the subsequent "when and for how long" questions about any future consultation. And this is before the petrol retailing industry as a whole has decided whether such a penalty scheme for drive-offs - which cost the industry the very serious matter of £30m a year - would be a good thing or bad. For example BOSS, which represents UK service stations, seems in this instance to have completely opposing views to the retailers running them. How can that be?

Leaders of the Pack

There was stiff competition in both the rural and motorway categories at this year's awards, and the judges were impressed with the very high standards from entrants.

Top of the class

== Best food-to-go outlet - sponsored by Bake & Bite ==

Still burning bright

Amid all the furore about the proposed tobacco display ban, tobacco manufacturers remain surprisingly upbeat about the UK tobacco category and its future. And when you take time to look at the figures you can see why. Currently 13 million adults choose to smoke tobacco products in the UK and between them they purchase nearly 47 billion cigarettes per year in retail outlets. And these sales generate £11.6bn in turnover.

Pump up the volume

The box office wasn't the only place where High School Musical proved a hit in 2008 - it was also a success for forecourt shop sales.

ACS victory over tobacco sales fine

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the government's decision to withdraw plans to fine shop staff £80 for selling tobacco to under 18s - another measure proposed to be added to the Penalty Notice Disorder (PND). The on-the-spot-fine was due to come into force on 26 January, despite no communication or consultation with the retail trade. When the proposal was first muted last month ACS

LP gas coverage is rising across the UK

Autogas has announced an increase in the number of outlets providing LPG to their customers.

Hammond wins top prize at Jet awards

AW&D Hammond in Halesworth, Suffolk beat over 400 dealers to take the highest accolade at Jet's Aim Hi dealer programme.

Brick attack on cashier

Police are appealing for witnesses after three masked men raided a BP Snax 24 outlet on the A5 near Hinckley, Leicestershire last month. The cashier was hit across the face with a brick, bundled into an office and ordered to open a safe. He was hit with the brick after saying he had no keys for the safe. The gang took a till containing £395, and drove off in VW Beetle, with an 03 registration plate. The victim was so badly hurt that police were unable to interview him in hospital.

in brief

The government has set a higher than expected target for the use of biofuels in UK vehicles for 2009-10. The 3.25% target is 0.5% more than recommended in the Gallagher Review. Meanwhile, the UK is to get a biofuels research centre - the £27m Sustainable Bioenergy Centre will have hubs at six universities.

Results of this month's online poll:

Despite predictions of a generally gloomy economic outlook, how positive are you feeling about prospects for your own business in 2009?

Fuel prices - January 26, 2009

Have your say

With the future of the Petrol Retailers' Association (PRA) under review, the organisation could be looking at its first major shake up in years. Last month PRA director Ray Holloway revealed

In the surgery this month

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Just two miles north of Chichester on the A286 is an isolated small complex of organisations that includes the Summersdale Garage and its Spar Shop. The site also includes the St Wilfrid's Hospice shop and an autocare centre.

Too early for any 'green shoots'

It would have been nice to end the current series of Industry Database figures by being able to point to some indicators that our industry had started to bounce off the bottom of the economic dip. But unfortunately our figures are from last November and if you cast your mind back to then, you might recall that it was around that time that pump prices were falling almost weekly. This led some operators to predict that the dramatic fall in fuel volumes experienced over the previous summer might at least be stemmed, or possibly even reversed. Unfortunately, our own volume figures continued to show a steep decline (36% down between November '07 and November '08) and since then we've started to see pump prices slowly rise again as the pound has tumbled against the US dollar.

Service Centre with Jac Roper

== Sunday trading - forecourts are exempt ==

Servicing with a smile

Ron Haacke was last seen as director and general manager of the Petrol Express chain, which had 64 sites and was number six in last year's Top 50 Indies listing.

Trading places

In the past 10 years the retail petroleum industry has shifted its focus from fixed margin deals to Platts-based contracts and margin share arrangements. After years of heated discussions regarding price support and haggles over where the competition lay, a solution seemed to lie in referencing an independent body to agree the 'cost' of fuel. From this platform, negotiations were concentrated on suppliers agreeing with their customers an add-on for delivery, card-processing and the pleasure of displaying the supplier's brand. Platts was seen as the solution. Platts is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, and a leading global provider of energy and metals data.

It's the big ONE

With significantly more exhibitors than last year, and bigger stands - despite the economic climate - the International Forecourt & Fuel Equipment show (IFFE) 2009 promises to be a must-attend event for all those involved in the petrol retailing sector.

Hello to Diet Coke

Diet Coke is being backed by a new marketing campaign with a 'Hello You' theme, which will run throughout 2009.

Match made on TV

Nestlé Confectionery's Quality Street Matchmakers brand is now sponsoring Harry Hill's TV Burp.

Guylian eggs crack new look

Guylian is introducing a new pack design for two of its Easter eggs this spring.

Powerade rugby ball

Coca-Cola Enterprises' sports drink brand Powerade has re-signed sponsorship deals with both the English and Welsh rugby union teams.

Nytol returns to TV

Natural sleep aid Nytol is back on TV this month with the second showing of its Aardman-produced 'claymation' ad featuring a character called Joan.

Say cheese for Red Nose Day

Mini Babybel is running an on-pack promotion for Red Nose Day.

Gillette shave care

Gillette has launched Shave Care, described as its biggest range of step-by-step skin care products for men, to increase awareness and unlock growth potential across the £726m male grooming category. The brand is targeting UK men looking to take better care of their skin. The new Shave Care range includes: pre-shave scrub and wash; shave gels which shield the skin during the shave; and after-the-shave moisturiser, balm and gel which refuel the skin. The launch of the range will be supported by a strong advertising campaign across TV, print, online and digital outdoor media.

Sharing sensation

Walkers relaunches its Sensations brand this month. The packaging changes from white to black to make it look more premium. There is also the addition of two flavours to its sharing range - buffalo mozzarella & herbs and southern style barbecue. Both variants are available in 160g bags while southern style barbecue also comes in 95g bags. Kirk Tanner, Walkers VP Impulse UK & Ireland, says: "Staying in is the new going out which offers retailers a massive opportunity for incremental sales on sharing formats in impulse outlets."

Red Bull takes off

Red Bull has promised a year of excitement and inspiration for consumers and to drive profits for retailers as it kicks off what it describes as an "unparalleled marketing campaign" which sees the return of the cartoon ad on screens this month. The announcement comes off the back of a great December, with the company claiming its third highest Red Bull sales in the UK for any month in the company's history.

Shaking all over

General Mills UK is trying to ensure Betty Crocker 'Shake to Make' pancakes are the key ingredient of Pancake Day (February 24) celebrations. The product will be backed by TV advertising and other awareness-building support to reinforce its ease of use (just add water) and its close relationship with this annual culinary occasion.

Chill out with a Kit Kat cone

R&R Ice Cream has added the Kit Kat cone to its summer 2009 range. Available exclusively to the impulse market, it has a rrp of £1.32.

Price-marked offer

Cadbury is launching a 35p on-pack price promotion while stocks last within cash and carry and wholesale. For a limited time, single bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk, Cadbury Crunchie, Cadbury Double Decker and Cadbury Boost will be pricemarked at 35p, with retailers receiving five bars free of charge in every outer (£1.75-worth of stock free of charge at 35p rrp). The packs will feature a prominent on-pack price flash, which will help the promotion stand out at the fixture and catch customers' attention. Kate Harding, trade communications manager at Cadbury, says: "The pricemarked products are some of the UK's most popular chocolate bars within independents. The promotion will enable retailers to drive sales, while offering their customers even better value for money. We have included five bars free in every outer - 48 bars for the price of 43." 0870 191 7343

A healthier option

Birds Eye launches a new Healthy Options range this month which is aimed at giving shoppers a healthy frozen ready meal choice without them having to compromise on taste.

Pouches pack a punch

The Mars Pouch Collector promotion is back - and Mars says it promises to be the most successful to date.

Heinz spices up dinner time

Heinz says it is giving busy mums a helping hand when it comes to preparing home-cooked meals for the family with the launch of a new range of tomato purees infused with herbs and spices.

Sharwood's new bit on the side

Premier Foods is launching a new range of Sharwood's Indian side dish accompaniments which it says are set to drive incremental sales and encourage trial of new products.

The return of phileas fogg

UBUK is marking the return of Phileas Fogg by giving readers the chance to win one of five great prizes of £100-worth of a mix of the relaunched products.


To claim your Giveaway, simply write your name, address and telephone number on a postcard or sealed envelope stating what you want - Mars, Heinz, Premier Foods or Phileas Fogg - and we'll do the rest, including delivery. Send it to us at Forecourt Trader, William Reed Business Media, Broadfield Park, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 9RT, by February 28.

Total signs pump deal

Dresser Wayne has signed a three-year deal with Total to supply fuel pumps to its forecourts