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September

BP Connect and Esso 'On the run' both on A3 in Surrey
01 September, 2004

GENERAL APPEARANCE: After leaving Guildford and travelling north on the very busy A3, I visited a BP Connect that – as it happens – is the last service station before the junction with the M25. Continuing my journey towards London on the A3 I thought it would be interesting to immediately compare and contrast this established site with the first service station after the M25, the comparatively new Esso On the Run format being trialled. Although only 15 miles separates the two sites, what I found was that in many and varied ways they are chalk and cheese.

Running out of steam
01 September, 2004

We have become used to seeing figures from the Database that tell us shop sales on service stations have been growing consistently for the past few years; not just consistently but sometimes quite spectacularly – at least compared to the rather dismal results which many big High Street retailers have been reporting. It’s possible to argue for ages about the exact reasons why the forecourt sector has (until now, at least) bucked the retail trend. Some suggest that as places for ‘distress purchases’ rather than ‘shopping’, forecourts really can’t be compared to ‘destination retailers’. Others point out that many independent dealers in the forecourt sector have been extremely active investing in regular shop upgrades and expansion over the years whereas the larger chains tend to have less frequent (albeit more elaborate and expensive) capital investment. While many factors have doubtless contributed to the performance, another significant reason may simply be that site numbers have been dropping whereas the number of drivers hasn’t. One reason that rarely gets a mention, is that it’s difficult to think of any other retail sector with harder-working or more entrepreneurial operators than the independent petrol retailer.

Running out of steam
01 September, 2004

We have become used to seeing figures from the Database that tell us shop sales on service stations have been growing consistently for the past few years; not just consistently but sometimes quite spectacularly – at least compared to the rather dismal results which many big High Street retailers have been reporting. It’s possible to argue for ages about the exact reasons why the forecourt sector has (until now, at least) bucked the retail trend. Some suggest that as places for ‘distress purchases’ rather than ‘shopping’, forecourts really can’t be compared to ‘destination retailers’. Others point out that many independent dealers in the forecourt sector have been extremely active investing in regular shop upgrades and expansion over the years whereas the larger chains tend to have less frequent (albeit more elaborate and expensive) capital investment. While many factors have doubtless contributed to the performance, another significant reason may simply be that site numbers have been dropping whereas the number of drivers hasn’t. One reason that rarely gets a mention, is that it’s difficult to think of any other retail sector with harder-working or more entrepreneurial operators than the independent petrol retailer.

Code cracking
01 September, 2004

Ever wondered what the various phone codes represent and whether you are being ripped off or not?

Don't disable your business
01 September, 2004

The deadline for offering a user-friendly environment becomes official on October 1 when Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 comes into play.

Shop to shore
01 September, 2004

“There’s something really strange going on,” muses Brian Madderson, managing director of Dover-based George Hammond plc, from his office overlooking the harbour. And he’s not just talking about the weather either. He is extremely curious as to why the oil companies don’t seem keen to put their forecourt fuel prices up to reflect the rising world prices.

Cocoa Nuts!
01 September, 2004

Confectionery sales are worth £4.88bn in the UK (AC Nielsen Scantrack Impulse), with retail sales having grown by £800m in 2003. Chocolate confectionery sales account for £3.36bn of this and increased by 2.5% in 2003, according to Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s Confectionery Report 2003. This gain was achieved despite falling sales during last year’s hot summer as sales shot up in the September to December period. With similar weather this year, retailers should pull out all the stops to maximise sales in the autumn period.

Polish up your act
01 September, 2004

If you’re a forecourt store and you don’t offer the basics in car care then you could be missing out. Because if Mr Jones goes to wash his car on a Sunday morning and finds his sponge has fallen apart, his local forecourt is going to be the most convenient place to get a replacement. Likewise motorists wanting screen wash will drop into the forecourt first. That said, you don’t need to go over the top. Shelf space in the average forecourt store doesn’t allow for a huge range so it’s best to stick to basics.

A refreshing change
01 September, 2004

The soft drinks category should be high on every forecourt retailer’s priority list – after all, it’s worth a whopping £5.1bn in total with forecourts claiming £242m of that – and is growing at a rate of 10% (AC Nielsen MAT April 04). What’s more, the sector’s full of big-brand names and multi-million pound ad campaigns, which makes the job of selling them a whole lot easier.

Cripsy roast range
01 September, 2004

Following the success of Walkers’ Great British Flavours and Great British Takeaways ranges, the snacks company has launched a range inspired by the British roast dinner.

When a major car manufacturer like Ford predicts that sales of its electrified cars will outnumber petrol and diesel models by 2022, does that ring alarm bells about the possible speed of change for forecourts?