Forecourt Trader
Q8 dealers will retain branding

Q8-branded dealers will be able to retain their branding until the end of their existing contracts, according to Brian Handley, general manager of Pace Petroleum, the new company running the former Kuwait Petroleum retail and distribution network. The business was acquired in September by Refined Holdings, a newly formed joint venture between independent retailer Malthurst, and property and investment companies, the Winston Group and the William Pears Group.

Esso injects Energy into its fuel brand

Esso is introducing a new fuel brand name ‘Energy’, which is currently being rolled out throughout its network in time for a new advertising campaign.

Women top men in forecour spending

Women are bigger spenders than men in forecourt shops, according to research from Harris International Marketing.

Optimax milestone

Shell has just sold its billionth litre of Optimax, which was launched in the UK in 2002.

Garagewatch & FPS call for duty freeze

Garage Watch and the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers are calling on the Chancellor to make an early announcement on his plans for fuel duty in the forthcoming budget.

James brands fixed penalties 'pathetic'

Cambridgeshire-based retailer Jonathan James is embarking on what feels to him like a “one-man crusade” to contest the government’s introduction of fixed penalty notices for shoplifters.

Unwelcome break for motorists

Motorists were left stranded on the M1 after filling up at a service station where an unleaded fuel tank had been filled with diesel.

Spar aims high with package to shape up

Spar has launched a radical package of initiatives as it sets out to reinforce its position in a fiercely competitive marketplace and realise its goal of becoming the biggest and best convenience retailer in the UK.

Licensing minefield

The government has at last published its Draft Regulations for the new Licensing Act, giving the trade more precise information on how to apply for licences, the timescales involved and more detail about the requirements for the various documents that must be submitted with applications.

News in brief

SUSIE HAWKINS, managing partner of West Country forecourt chain Simon Smith Group, (a Lakeside group member) was named winner of the Global Scholarship Competition at the NACS show in Las Vegas last month. The winners – one retailer and one supplier – from each of the national competitions held in the UK, Australia and the USA, went head to head in front of the international audience. Susie impressed the judges with her presentation on the incursion of the UK multiple retailers into the small store sector, and her description of how the Simon Smith Group is fighting back.

Silveys M32 services, Bristol

GENERAL APPEARANCE: This joint-branded Shell/Londis Express site is architecturally distinctive with a large M32 sign secured by a series of cables towering above the shop. Intense use has been made of a difficult shaped position but one, which I guess might test the patience of drivers at certain times.

Slow down or reverse?

Back in September’s issue we asked whether the forecourt shop sales were starting to run out of steam, given some rather disappointing Database figures from June. Well, the rest of summer 2004 proved to be even more disappointing than those early results from June had suggested, as just a quick glance at the ‘Comparator’ table for the latest available figures (August) will illustrate: our Monthly Shop Sales value is lower in cash terms than it was a year earlier – £53,558 against £54,233. Since we started publishing the current Database format back in 1996 we have only had two previous occasions where the current month’s sales value was lower than it had been 12 months previously – and both of those (September 2000 and February 2001) were isolated results for special reasons (the fuel blockade and comparison to leap year, respectively).

The choice is yours

Or is it? The grocery supply chain is generally thought to be a fairly free and fluid thing. You can more or less buy your baked beans from anybody. The government hasn’t had to intervene the way it did with banks to make it easier for you to shop around and move your account. Or the way it did with newspaper distributors to make supplies more readily available to willing outlets.

What's the real deal?

How important is price? What a question to ask retailers. Owen McKay, who runs Smithy Garage at Warrington in Cheshire, thinks that image is important but that it is inextricably linked to price.

Change for the better

There’s been a refinement to the Data Protection Act 1998 which means that retailers with basic CCTV cameras – the type that cannot zoom in and out – no longer have to register with the Information Commissioner. The thinking behind this is that you are not ‘targeting’ anyone with a static camera that is just there for your own protection. If you use it to keep tabs on staff though, you do need to register.

The great crusade

When interviewing Forecourt Trader of the Year winners, there’s always a common theme that runs through the ensuing features, with words like skill, enthusiasm, foresight, shrewdness and determination being readily apparent. But what brings all these elements together to create a winning formula is the ability to work incredibly hard. Peter and Pat Bellini are no exception. This year it was their turn to emerge as frontrunners at this year’s awards in the face of stiff competition, and again the superlatives will get an airing.

Raising the bar

Four site redevelopments in 15 months might be more than one feat too many for most retailers, but not for Robert and Hugh Fraser of the Thames Valley-based Fraser Group. The brothers relished such a mighty task, and with their inspiring enthusiasm, hard work and business nous – not to mention guts – they have just completed their final project.

Christmas presence

Christmas comes but once a year, so the opportunity to cash in on extra sales in the lead up to Christmas is not to be missed. Whether it’s meeting the demands of shoppers on their way to a party with some chilled wine and beer, or keeping stocked up with snacks to satisfy customers’ needs for last-minute entertaining, opportunities for sales are aplenty in the festive season.

Full of fizz

Amid changing licensing laws (see news extra p14) off licences are fast becoming an integral part of the forecourt shop’s offer, helping to boost total shop turnover through increased footfall. And according to Insight Research there are now about 2,150 forecourts – about 20% of the network across all types of operation – with a licence to sell alcohol.

Speedy solutions

The time-pushed consumer has never had it so good – manufacturers have been busy spending millions on research and technology to come up with meal solutions that are not only quick and easy to prepare but have a quality taste and feel to them too. The market – catering to those on the way home from work or mid-week top-up shoppers – has now expanded to include everything from chilled pasta and ready meals to microwaveable rice and takeaway-style meal kits.

Flexiline plans move as customer base grows

The customer-focused approach of Flexiline Forecourt Services has apparently proved such a hit with retailers that the company has grown out of its current base in Nuthampstead, Herts and is planning a move to more prestigious premises in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, in 2005.

Gilbarco's SPOT-on

Gilbarco Veeder-Root has announced that the new Secure Payment Terminal (SPOT) has received EMV Level 2 and VISA PIN (PIN Encryption Device) approval. This certification means the terminal meets the security

Rechargable card debut

Rechargeable card debut Retailers now have the opportunity to stock the new ITN rechargeable Phonecard, which is being launched exclusively through the Alphyra Payzone retail network which has 13,500 locations in the UK.

M&M's top muffin

McVitie’s Cake Company has launched the new M&M’s Double Chocolate muffin to help drive growth through innovation in the Eat Now cake market. The new chocolate muffin is covered in milk chocolate and topped with M&M’s Minis. It has a rrp of 83p and is available in cases of 12. McVitie’s now accounts for almost half of all eat now cake sales.

Magic duo

Magic Tree has been added to screen wash to produce an all seasons Fragranced Screenwash in 500ml and one-litre sizes.

Pets get festive greeting cards

Pets should not be forgotten at Christmas time so Masterfoods has extended its Christmas snacks and treats range with the introduction of Whiskas and Pedigree Christmas cards, so customers can send festive greetings to their dogs and cats. Each card comes in its own ‘postable’ box and contains a special festive treat (rrp £1.29).

Healthy soup on the go

Weight Watchers from Heinz is launching a low calorie convenient soup for out-of-home.

Celebrity Bushtucker

Burton’s Foods has teamed up with Granada Ventures for the launch of Bushtucker, creepy crawlies made from jelly with a liquid centre and featuring the shapes of Grasshopper, Cockroach, Millipede and Witchety Grub. The launch is timed to coincide with the next series of ‘I’m a celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ which will be widely trailed on all ITV channels. More than 11 million viewers saw the last series in January 2004.

Ready-packed snacks

Portfolio Partners is bringing airline formats to the retail and vending sector with the launch of Snack Packs, targeted at people on the go. With a rrp of £1.99 the ambient Snack Packs come in two versions – one with Kit Kat and one with Mars Bar – and contain Carrs Water crackers, Vache Qui Rit cheese, Mini Cheddars, Jacobs Table Crackers, Ardennes Pate, serviette and knife.

Meat-free bake for christmas

Cauldron’s premium Winter Bake is being launched as a seasonal special for the Christmas season, aimed at vegetarians and mainstream consumers.

Spam back on the menu with new ad

Spam, the chopped pork and ham brand, is to be the focus of a 30-second advertisement launched this month.

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

I DONT KNOW WHETHER OR NOT it’s a sign that the festive season is approaching, but these past few weeks I seem to have been spending most of my social hours at dinner parties. Now, to be honest with you I don’t particularly care for dinner parties. I’m not exactly renowned for my ability to make small talk at the best of times – ask me out at the end of a tiring work day and my natural instinct is to be positively taciturn! You can probably guess that most of these invites come because of her Ladyship, who positively revels in the ‘pass the After Eights’ scene. And because I’m a truly subservient, henpecked husband, I don’t really have much choice in the matter!

Fuel prices: November 2004

Data supplied by Catalist Ltd