Forecourt Trader
Shell seeks buyers for Irish business

Shell is planning to pull out of Ireland, lock, stock and barrel. The news follows Esso’s announcement last month that it is withdrawing from Northern Ireland.

Fuelforce 2 would see Kestrel take off

Investment in new shop formats and branding will be the first priority if Rikki Hunt goes ahead with his plans for Fuelforce 2.

Last orders for alcohol licences

Retailers are being urged to get their new licensing applications “filled in and sent off immediately”.

Uncork the potential

Three out of 10 shoppers in licensed forecourts are unaware that they can buy alcohol in the store, says a new report by Interbrew.

Half-litre prices will “floor” drivers

Retailers would be “incredibly stupid” to display prices for half a litre if diesel reaches £1 a litre, says the AA Motoring Trust.

ACS fuels review

The Association of Convenience Stores is using hypermarket fuel pricing as evidence of below cost selling as part of its wider evidence to the Office of Fair Trading calling for a review of the grocery market.

New boss for BOSS

BOSS has appointed Peter Mellins, security manager for Total since 1997, as its new chairman.

Mike vows to buck the small site trend

Independent dealer Mike Dransfield of Nesscliffe Services is to invest £1.6m building a new state-of-the art service station on the very bypass that looked set to blight his business when it was built more than two years ago.

Somerfield works on helping the disabled

Somerfield is looking to make its forecourt stores more accessible for disabled people by trialling ServiceCall, a system that enables disabled customers to request service from within their vehicle.

Breaking the chain

Independent retailers could be discriminated against by newspaper and magazine wholesalers if the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) proposals for magazine distribution become law, according to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).

Co-op/Shell site, Pavilion Square, Westhoughton, Nr Bolton

Last month’s issue of Forecourt Trader featured the Petrol Division of United Co-operatives and reported some very impressive shop developments and results. I resolved to visit a site as soon as possible then remembered that the report mentioned one at Westhoughton near Bolton – I was up that way so popped in. Close to the town centre of Westhoughton and at the Pavilion Shopping Centre is a Co-op Food Market and in its shadow is the forecourt.

Treading water? Careful, don't get in any deeper!

Although our database figures for fuel volume and shop sales so far this year are not spectacular, they don’t look too bad at first glance. Bear in mind however that, while nobody is making a big noise about it at the moment, the traditional inflation indicator (RPI) for each month of this year to date is showing inflation at 3.2% above the corresponding month in 2004. In real terms therefore, shop performance can best be described as ‘static’ – in other words while retail in general may be drowning, petrol retailers are at least treading water.

Putting the brakes on those drive-offs

Maybe one day fuel will have a built-in ‘activation’ capsule in it, or somesuch, that will only be switched on when the customer actually pays for the stuff. If I knew how to do it I would patent it.

Phoney phone card service

Nailesh Gokani, who runs Empire Service Station in North London’s Enfield, has had a bit of a saga with O2 top-ups. Early on May 9 he took £10 from a customer, swiped the card and got the receipt through. Soon afterwards the customer got two text messages saying there was a problem but the credit would be there shortly.

The force is strong

It could go either way. Rikki Hunt could soon be putting the finishing touches to his plans for Fuelforce Mark 2. Or he could decide he’s had enough of the industry for now, and pursue the many offers he’s had for non-executive directorships.

New faces

Moving from catering to petrol retailing doesn’t sound a logical step, but almost two years ago the Malek family hit the ground running with their first forecourt venture and have turned a busy site in North Devon into an impressive forecourt with 2,200sq ft shop and extensive car washing facilities. The dynamic trio behind Roundswell Filling Station in Barnstaple is Herbert Malek, his son Rob – managing director – and son-in-law Paul Gyurgyak, site director. Their catering business was set up 21 years ago with one Wimpy restaurant, and peaked at six sites in North Devon. They’d had their eye on Roundswell for seven years, after buying the Wimpy restaurant on the same plot.

Get the hang of it

Some suppliers are saying sales of sugar confectionery are up slightly and others are saying the market’s flat, but one thing they are all agreed on is that hanging bags are the big sales success story for forecourts. That’s because in cars up and down the country, glove boxes are full of sweets – there to help relieve boredom and aid concentration on tedious journeys.

Competitive edge

Most motorists wouldn’t go a year without a service on their car, but many retailers are failing to show the same care and consideration for their business. Instead of protecting their investment and committing to preventative maintenance of vital equipment, retailers – particularly independents – are waiting until something goes wrong before having their assets serviced, according to forecourt service providers.

Crunch time

A glance at the latest research into bagged snacks may surprise many forecourt retailers. Mintel’s latest report, Crisps and Snacks, June 2005, shows falling sales of crisps and savoury snacks across all retail outlets. Just three years ago, it says, total sales were £2.4bn but now that has dropped by 6% to just over £2.2bn.

Special edition

Forecourts could generate extra revenue from newspaper and magazine sales through the use of battery-powered news vending machines sited next to their pumps.

Turning a problem around

British Turntable has supplied a manually-operated car turntable for a new forecourt in Jersey. The Doubleday garage had come up against EU health and safety regulations that prevented it from selling petrol. The problem on the forecourt was that there was no turning circle – cars had to drive on, then reverse out onto a busy road.

High quality LCD display unit at a price you can afford

Digital View has introduced a compact

Dunhill development

Premium cigarette brand Dunhill has been relaunched following a two-year development, which has resulted in a new look and taste.

Promises, promises

Masterfoods is expecting a 20% uplift in sales in its Galaxy large block range, following the launch of Promises, which it claims will attract new customers to the brand as well as create a new ‘everyday luxury’ confectionery category.

Fresh ads for Trebor

Cadbury Trebor Bassett is launching a £2.8m national advertising campaign to support mint brand, Trebor.

Tropical delights

Another exotic flavour is joining the Jamaican fruit drink range, Tropical Rhythms, which is marketed in this country by Ubevco Distributors.

Classic Corners of the USA

Müller Corner has four new American Classic flavours: Alabama chocolate fudge cake, blueberry Manhattan cheesecake, New England banoffee pie and Florida Key lime pie.

Lucozade rides high

Lucozade Sport, the official sports drink of the FA Premier League, is launching a football-themed on-pack promotion.

Boosting the range

Iron Brew is a new addition to the Boost Drinks family – all designed to lift energy levels and increase alertness – and has been launched to cater for the different taste requirements of energy drink customers.

Gallaher voted top

Gallaher has won Best Supplier as voted for by retailers in the annual Convenience Tracking Programme Awards, organised by Harris International Marketing.

Extra thin Styx for students

Swedish Match has launched an extra slim filters version of its Styx Combi Pack.

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

“SO THAT'S THE END of our business, then,” said the voice of doom, aka the wife. “What’s that my dear?” I replied. “This levying a £1.34 a mile congestion charge, of course. People just won’t be able to afford it – they’ll just stop using their cars as much,” she explained. “Calm down, my dear,” I responded in my best Michael Winner tone. “It’s not as simple as all that.”

News in brief

WELCOME BREAK has invested £1m in its toilet facilities at the Gordano Service Area on the M5. Redevelopment work saw the existing 25-year-old toilet block replaced by 38 state-of-the-art toilets, four shower cubicles and a baby changing area. The facilities are manned to ensure standards are maintained at all times. The Bristol site is one of the busiest in the Welcome Break chain.

Fuel Prices: July 2005

Data supplied by Catalist Ltd.