Forecourt Trader
Come and join our working lunches

Make sure you come along to Forecourt Trader’s Working Lunch sessions at the International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment Exhibition this month, and take part in the discussions.

ACS offers advice amid Sudan 1 chaos

Retailers have had a major headache on their hands since the warning announcement this month from the Foods Standards Agency about food products containing Sudan 1.

No windfall for 'indies'

The huge oil company profits announced recently by Shell and BP are no benefit to independent fuel distributors, according to Susan Hancock, chief executive of the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers.

Bigger peaks and troughs warn Sims

The peaks and troughs in the retail fuel market are going to get much bigger this year, according to BP’s retail director Graham Sims. “The volatility this year of the British petrol retailing market is going to change, and we’ve got to get used to the great times and the bloody awful times,” he said.

Plans underway for new M11 services

A public consultation document about possible improvements to the M11 motorway in Essex and Cambridgeshire over the next decade includes the prospect of another service area on the northern section of the 52-mile route.

Thieves bungle cash raid

Three thieves were forced to flee empty-handed after a bungled attempt to steal a cash machine from a garage forecourt.

Fender steps in to defend ATM charges

ATM suppliers charging customers for cash withdrawals have been defended by Tom Fender, managing director of shopper research company Harris International Marketing, following adverse national press coverage.

News in brief

FORECOURT MARKET DATA COMPANY CATALIST will be running a daily prize draw for a one year’s subscription to its PriceViewer service at the International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment Show this month. There will also be a second draw for a free Catalist Site Report – together worth nearly £500. The draw is open to anyone visiting its stand and leaving their details. The prize draw will take place at the end of each day and the winner will be notified within 24 hours. Visit Catalist on Stand J110, Hall 7.

Here comes Somerfield

Somerfield has become the latest supermarket to state its claim on the forecourt sector, following an acquisition of 140 Texaco sites for £90m. But as Forecourt Trader went to press, Somerfield announced that it was to sell these sites on to Palmer Capital Partners and Deutsche Property Asset Management, who will develop the forecourts and lease them back to Somerfield for 20 years.

Triple Eight Group - Spar/BP, Wilton Road, Salisbury

I have long wanted to visit a Triple Eight Group site, so finding myself close to Salisbury I soon located the joint-branded Spar/BP forecourt on Wilton Road, part of the busy A36 Southampton/ Bath road. It is on the Wilton side of Salisbury, a mile from the city centre, and opposite an equally large Shell site.

Benchmark 2004

The easiest way of summing up 2004’s results would be ‘steady as she goes’. It didn’t produce many really dramatic trends on the forecourt. Yes, consumers railed against high fuel prices, and some majors are now reporting astronomical profit levels, just as we are reminded those profits originate ‘upstream’, and there’s no profit in UK fuel retailing... So, as far as our ‘average forecourt’ is concerned, what can we report?

It's enough to make you sick

We are all more or less used to the try-it-on culture but when customers return stuff along with threats “to report you”, you are bound to look over your shoulder.

Driving down drive-offs

I must put my hand up and say that I did a drive-off the other day. However, it was at my local station and I did wave at the checkout a lot as I drove very slowly out and point to the husband who was waiting in the queue to pay. But I saw that no-one noticed me waving or driving off very very slowly and so it brought home the point that this can be a very easy crime to commit if you are relying on just your eyesight and bit of camera kit.

Building with bricks

Just enough space left to tell you about a nifty little service you can register with, for free, which passes on an interesting range of ideas/thoughts/opinions to nearly 10,000 small business owners who have already subscribed. Run by the government-funded Small Business Service, ‘Business Bricks’ is written and sent out weekly by Matt Weston via email. It’s good-natured, entertaining and it often makes you stop and think. If you want to register email him on

Moving goalposts

The BP Connect programme continues to roll on with 170 sites now in operation, 10 under construction, and another 50 scheduled for development this year. And BP’s retail director Graham Sims is looking forward to the grand opening later this year of the two biggest Connect outlets in Europe.

Majors net a winner

July 1 last year saw ConocoPhillips go live with a major initiative to improve two-way communications with its Jet dealers through the launch of a secure customer extranet website and an end to paper invoicing. Two months later the CPNet online invoicing development scooped Jet the award for Best Oil Company Initiative in the Forecourt Trader of the Year awards.

Best motorway site 2004

Since RoadChef’s forecourt on the M6 toll road opened in December 2003, business has gone from strength to strength as the new road becomes more popular with motorists.

Retail is detail

Attention to detail can make the difference between average and outstanding. Try using the following rules – courtesy of Harris International Marketing – to enhance your overall store offer. Shoppers have more choice than ever of where to buy snacks and top-up items – make sure it’s your store they choose...

Whats the story

Newspapers and magazines have been hitting the headlines themselves lately, with the ongoing debate over territorial supply and carriage charges, not to mention the regular wrangles over inserts and returns.

Chill factor

With the likes of Sainsbury and Tesco on the forecourt convenience shopping scene, independent operators are increasingly faced with the challenge to develop their fresh and chilled foods offering. And judging by some of the independent sites in the network, many are succeeding too.

Let the good times roll

For three days in March (8-10) the Birmingham NEC will be packed full of forecourt experts – companies whose products have been tailored for the sector and whose staff will be on hand to offer their advice and help. The event is of course the International Forecourt & Fuel Equipment show, which is running alongside the Convenience Retailing Show.

Convenience counts

Running alongside IFFE 2005, CRS 2005 brings nearly 200 companies together under one roof. Each will be showing off their wares, highlighting their latest launches and many will be offering exclusive show deals.

CTAC targets hold-ups

Anti-crime system specialist CTAC claims to have produced an effective answer to the problem of armed robberies on petrol forecourts with the launch of its Neo Digital Recording System and purpose-built British Standard Central Monitoring Station.

Easy chilling with slimline Valera cabinet

Valera is introducing a new slimline version of its popular remote multi-deck range of refrigeration equipment, which is suitable for dairy products, food-on-the-go, fruit and vegetables or fresh, pre-packed meat products.

Advice on hand with pos guide

UK Point of Sale has launched its biggest ever catalogue packed with more than 1,500 lines. The bumper Display Buyers Guide has almost doubled in size and reflects a vastly expanded product range, incorporating 300 new innovations.

Snack for the boys

United Biscuits UK is launching a new range of McCoy’s, and relaunching the Hula Hoops brand.

A lot more bubbles

Nestlé Rowntree has unveiled a programme of activity for its £75m Aero brand, including the launch of a bitesize product expected to add £28m in sales this year.

Bake & Bite

Country Choice has given Bake & Bite a major rebrand and launched a range of products, display options and new services.

More flavours for sensations

Walkers is adding a new limited edition flavour and two selection four-packs to its Sensations range.

Energy boosting loaf

Warburtons has introduced a new white bread with the fibre and wheatgerm goodness of a wholemeal loaf, but with a low Glycemic Index for longer lasting energy.

All white for 2005

Following a tough year blighted by the weather, Masterfoods is hoping to stir some interest in the ice cream market with two launches – White Maltesers ice cream stick, and Mars Midnight ice cream bar.

fresh breath with Polo orbs

Nestlé Rowntree’s mint brand Polo is targeting the trend for portable breath freshening, with the launch of two products – Polo liquid orbs and Polo + Vivazol.

New-look Smarties

Nestlé Rowntree’s Smarties tube is being given a contemporary new look with the launch of the six-sided ‘Hexatube’. This is the first ever change of the traditional Smarties tube since the product was launched 67 years ago.

Gian strawbs for sharing

Haribo has launched a family-sized bag of its best-selling Giant Strawbs countline. The strawberry-shaped jelly sweet containing real strawberry juice has a rrp of 99p to £1.02, and the bags re packed in outers of 12.

Kingsmill bread gets new look for 2005

Allied Bakeries is giving its Kingsmill Soft White brand a new look, as well as launching a range of bagel products under the Kingsmill brand.

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

OH LIFE WAS SO MUCH SIMPLER back then. A row of petrol pumps, a couple of old codgers to take the money and all stock control consisted of was counting the oil cans on the trolley and wondering each month why the UCL receipts never matched the amount that had been dispensed. (Silly boy, they may have been old codgers but that didn’t mean they were daft old codgers – some things never change!) Annual budgeting sort of took care of itself. Your wages went up a bit but then the annual increase in duty at the budget took care of part of that and the increased margin on the higher price took care of the rest. For the benefit of my younger readers let me repeat that phrase ‘increased margin’. These were the days of 10% gross profit margin on retail price that everyone in the area adhered to.

Fuel prices: March 2005

Data supplied by Catalist Ltd