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PRA calls for tougher action over illicit fuel

The Petrol Retailers' Association has expressed concern over the rise in availability of illicit fuel and has called on Government to take action after HM Revenue & Customs announced a rapid increase of illicit fuel detections.

HRMC slammed over tobacco smuggling

Despite the extra £25m of funding set aside in 2011 to help tackle the smuggling of legitimate tobacco brands, PRA chairman Brian Madderson says HMRC has yet to get a grip on the situation.

Industry column: James Lowman

The government recently published the full details of its Anti-Social Behaviour Bill.

Euro Garages buys price-setting kit

Inform Information Systems' product, FuelsPricing.com, is to be used by Euro Garages to support fuel pricing across its growing network of 100-plus retail locations.

Controls on e-cigarettes

New regulations are being introduced for nicotine-containing products (NCPs), such as electronic cigarettes.

LCM polishes up sites' tarnished fuel

LCM Environmental has developed what it describes as "the UK's first inclusive fuel polishing and sampling service".

Gilbarco Veeder-Root opens up new Frontier

Gilbarco Veeder-Root has launched a new range of fuel dispensers.

Washing made easier

PSD Codax, the market-leading developer of token-free control systems for car wash equipment, is making car wash and jet wash services even easier for customers to use, with barcode technology in its retail terminal and on forecourt equipment.

Morrisons renews Eurotank maintenance agreement

Morrisons has renewed its tank maintenance contract with Eurotank Environmental for a further three years.

Tokheim Eye tailors reaction to each customer

Tokheim has unveiled an addition to its Tokheim Eye forecourt monitoring/control system, offering operators opportunities to boost their retail revenue on-site through additional sales.

Equipment column: Kevin Eastwood

A major source of loss for retailers results from motorists who claim to have 'no means to pay'. BOSS estimates the industry lost more than £4m last year and its Payment Watch scheme has been developed to recover as much of this as possible.

Coke says: see the soft drinks' sales opportunity

The soft drinks' market may already be big, but it could be a lot bigger. According to Coca-Cola Enterprises' (CCE's) new See The Opportunity report, there is an opportunity to grow the category, which is currently worth over £11bn , by a further £2.1bn over the next five years.

Twix is in the mix

Twix lovers are now able to enjoy their favourite chocolate bar with friends and family, thanks to the launch of Twix Mix. Each 140g sharing pouch is packed with Twix in small 'moreish' pieces. Rrp is £2.09. The crunchy biscuit and chewy caramel balls from Twix Mix are expected to attract new customers to the fast-growing bitesize market.

Rollover refreshed

Rollover, which sells over 25 million hot dogs a year, has just refreshed its look to improve appeal, increase the impact for impulse purchase and help retailers grow sales.

Crispy and creamy

Cadbury Crispello has a new flavour vanilla velvet. The 30g countline comprises three crispy wafer shells with a creamy vanilla filling, all wrapped in Cadbury milk chocolate. Rrp is 50p.

Thrill-seeker's drink

Extreme is a new premium sports and energy drink range, which targets the millions of 18-34 year olds who are attracted to the thrill-seeking extreme sports lifestyle. Vimto Soft Drinks has been awarded the licence to produce the drinks by the Extreme Sports Company.

Blended with care

British American Tobacco has extended its Cutters Choice roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco line- up with the launch of A True Blend.

Tasty new Toastie product

New Leerdammer Toastie has been created to tap into the popularity of snacks such as cheese on toast and toasted cheese sandwiches. With thicker slices and a richer, creamier recipe for better melting, the new line is said to be perfect for creating convenient hot cheese snacks.

Hotter Pot Noodle

Pot Noodle has a new piri piri chicken flavour which will benefit from the £1.4m marketing investment planned for the entire Pot Noodle portfolio throughout the year. The piri piri pots are red and black to highlight the fiery flavour.

Smoother tasting

JTI has added Holborn smooth taste to its Old Holborn range, which will compete in the value segment of the roll-your-own (RYO) market.

Shop Talk with Tracy West

Like most other retailers, I suspect you are running lots of offers in your store. The thinking goes that the cash-poor, so-called savvy consumer is always looking for a bargain. But, and it's a big but, new research says that perhaps there are just too many products being promoted which leaves shoppers confused.

Maxol welcomes investment to tackle fuel laundering

Brian Donaldson, chief operating officer of The Maxol Group, has welcomed the announcement that an additional £1.5m will be spent on new surveillance equipment and additional staff as part of a heightened offensive against criminals involved in fuel laundering in Northern Ireland.

Industry experts join Universe Group

Following its recent acquisition of Indigo Retail, Universe Group (parent company of HTEC) has appointed a number of experienced people within the industry to assist with the integration of Indigo’s software solutions within the HTEC range. The combined business aims to deliver an “innovative market-leading offer that provides outstanding products with exceptional levels of support to retailers”.

Sewell Retail signs up to Payment Watch

Top 50 Indie Sewell Retail has joined the British Oil Security Syndicate’s (BOSS’s) Payment Watch scheme.

Simon Smith sells award-winning site

Top 50 Indie, Simon Smith Retail, has sold its award-winning Barnwood Budgens site in Gloucester.

PSD Codax helps Australian forecourts

UK-based PSD Codax is helping BP in Australia take control of its car wash revenue.

Top 50 Indies share best practice at annual forecourt seminar

Top 50 indies Patrick Sewell of Sewell Retail and Jeremy Clarke of Motor Fuel Group shared their philosophies on running a petrol retail business at the annual Forecourt Seminar organised by the Association of Convenience Stores and Petrol Retailers Association.

Asda withdraws petrol station plan

Asda has withdrawn plans to build a new petrol station at its Highbridge store in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset after objections over safety issues.

Pay-by-smartphone fuel solution

MiFuel, a solution that lets drivers pay for fuel using their mobile phones, is now available from Micros Systems.

"Incredible" rampage on forecourt

A man’s drunken rampage in a Halifax BP forecourt store was described as “incredible” and “absolutely amazing” by a shocked magistrate.

Topaz scores in Europe again!

Topaz scores in Europe again! Irish firm Topaz has been recognised as one of the Best Large Workplaces in Europe for the second time in three years.

IAM calls for L-drivers to be allowed on motorways

Young drivers must be allowed to gain early motorway driving experience, according to road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

Merril Boulton: Radio 4 on the case

Good to hear PRA chairman Brian Madderson on BBC Radio 4 last month giving his usual bit of welly on behalf of the industry. If you didn't hear it you can catch up online on iPlayer Radio.

Refining the cost of fuel

Two major reports in the past month have looked at road fuels and the motoring sector from very different perspectives, but both have highlighted the cost of fuel and taxation.

Shop Doctor: Freshwater Garages, Isle of Wight

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Freshwater Garages is in Freshwater town centre, on the Isle of Wight. It is on a corner, is very visible and is opposite a large Southern Co-op.

Money Talk: Limited knowledge of running a company

As accountants specialising in several retail sectors (forecourt, convenience, hospitality and even opticians' practices) we're involved in a great many new business start-ups. In recent years, a large proportion of these new businesses have come under the generic heading of franchises, and it's quite routine for franchise-type businesses to be operated through limited companies. Naturally, many people taking such franchises have already been running small businesses of their own for some time usually as sole traders. But we find that there's a considerable amount of confusion, and many misapprehensions, concerning the practical differences between working as a sole trader (or in partnership), and suddenly being a 'director' of their own company. So if you're in the position of considering a 'franchise'-type operation, or are about to start trading in a limited company set up, here are some of the basic distinctions to be aware of:

Service Centre: Jac Roper highlights problems when a supplier goes bust; and saving money on cards

How you can optimise your losses

Here's a cautionary tale for you. Back in March 2010 James Henderson, managing director of Cohannon Inn Ltd (which includes a filling station in Dungannon, County Tyrone), was approached by Energy Saving Company, an approved agent for Carbon Trust. It offered to supply electricity optimisers paid for via a no-interest loan from Carbon Trust.

All's swell at Bradwell

Earlier this year Refuel & Go's Bradwell Service Station in Braintree was awarded the accolade of Symbol Retailer of the Year at Palmer & Harvey's Pro Retail gala dinner.

Simply great

Set in the beautiful, rural landscape of Weare in Somerset, the long-established family business of GH Lunn distinguished itself in May by becoming the first forecourt to feature the relatively new, but fast-growing Simply Fresh symbol branding.

Keeping up with upkeep

Eddie Bright, director at Top 50 Indie Brobot, puts the case for regular forecourt maintenance across in a way everyone can understand: "Nobody would be happy if they went into their local pub and found that there was no beer because the pumps were out of order. The same is true of a fuel forecourt motorists want their fuel and they rightly expect the pumps to be working so they can get it."

The chill drill

Did you know that the average household fridge is opened 42 times a week versus a kitchen cupboard, which is opened 22 times a week? Interesting stuff, which goes a long way in explaining the growth of the chilled foods category which, according to Nielsen Scantrack data, is worth £21.6bn and is growing by 3%.

Clean living

When it comes to hair care, consumers really do believe "they're worth it" and stick to named brands. So says Mintel in its recent Shampoo, Conditioners and Styling Products report. Highlighting this, is the fact that last year own-label products accounted for a measly 4% of haircare value sales. Meanwhile, the big sellers were Elvive, Tresemmé, Head & Shoulders, Pantene ProV, Aussie and Herbal Essences and these are the brands your customers will expect to see in your stores.

Day in the Life: Raj Krishan

My alarm goes off on a week day at 4.45am yes am! Then the first job of the day is to motivate myself to get up while wiping the drool from my mouth (joke). Seriously though, my day starts by checking my emails and messages ensuring that I deal with anything that needs an urgent response (it's a 24-hour business!).