Forecourt Trader
New figures show 890 site closures

The number of forecourts in the UK and Northern Ireland is continuing to fall, according to new figures from the Energy Institute and Catalist.

Somerfield extends its brand to indies

Somerfield is looking for forward-thinking and entrepreneurial independent retailers to become franchisees.

Look out for Shop Doctor

Watch out next month for a new regular feature in Forecourt Trader – Shop Doctor.

Fuelforce changes mode of operation

Independent forecourt chain Fuelforce has decided to move to a direct managed mode of operation.

Cogent fails retail

The launch of Cogent, a sector skills council for the oil and gas extraction, chemicals manufacturing and petroleum industries, has been branded unhelpful to the forecourt industry.

Total to speed up customer feedback

Total has become the first petrol retailer in the UK to trial new technology designed to enable a swift and rapid response to customer feedback.

Works cut forecourt hours

Resurfacing and repair work on sections of the A14 in Suffolk have been affecting trade at the Haughley Park Service Area with adjacent Little Chef and Travelodge, near Stowmarket.

Aberness deal: good for Spar

Spar’s wholesaler in Scotland, CJ Lang, has described Somerfield’s takeover of Aberness Foods, which operates the Mace brand, as a “huge opportunity” for expansion of the Spar fascia in Scotland.

Changing tide

Site closures have gathered momentum, but last year saw the most come from the oil company network, indicating a much brighter future for the independent retailer.

Changing tide

Site closures have gathered momentum, but last year saw the most come from the oil company network, indicating a much brighter future for the independent retailer.

Joined forces

I’ve had some interesting feedback since reporting on Thumbs Up Security’s thumb-print kit, which tackles both the inability to pay problem that besets some customers, and the fraudulent use of cheques/cards.

Water, water, everywhere...

For those who get off on schadenfreude, the news that Coca-Cola has withdrawn ‘Sidcup tap water’ over bromate levels will have also brought an I-told-you-so to many minds. You can’t quite unscramble the Dasani label to spell ‘disaster’ but many will see it that way.

Mystery of Direct Cash

ATM supplier Direct Cash owes a few retailers some money. Karlos Ambrus of Knowehead Filling Station at Harthill in Lanarkshire, is among them. He paid £475.13 for three months rental upfront to Direct Cash to get an ATM installed, which came with PayPoint as part of the deal. He was subsequently informed that Direct Cash had gone into voluntary liquidation although there appears to be some dispute over the validity of the free-from-letter-heading letter that he was sent advising him of the liquidation. Neither PayPoint nor Direct Cash’s banker Allied Irish are convinced it has gone bust. Investigations are ongoing.

Budget 2004

The Chancellor certainly made life difficult for the headline writers – The Credit Card Budget being the most memorable phrase used after March 19. But nobody expected any dramatic measures to be announced with a general election on the horizon, especially from a Chancellor who has a habit of introducing subtle taxation changes that have often been programmed to take effect months or years later.

Esso in the running

It was a long time coming, but ExxonMobil’s global ‘On the Run’ shop format finally made it to the UK at the end of last year, with the opening of the first of several trial sites.

No strings attached

Walk down any high street and you will start to see a new set of brands appearing in shop windows – Hotspot and Openzone. These logos signify that the retailer has equipped their store with the latest in wireless technology, enabling customers to link to the internet or network via their laptop or handheld PDA.

Freezer frame

Frozen food shoppers spend twice as long in store, and 62 per cent more than the average convenience customer, according to Harris International Marketing’s Convenience Tracking Programme, so it’s a category not to be ignored.

Morning stars

Most people know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – setting you up for the hours ahead. But many people don’t get time for breakfast – either having to head off early for their busy commute or just having to work longer hours.

The name game

Brand alliances in the forecourt sector are becoming increasingly common as retailers recognise the impact of big brands. The market has seen BP link with Thresher Wine Shop in Connect sites, Esso adopt the Costa Coffee brand in its On The Run stores, and forecourt developer Margram build alliances with McDonald’s and Somerfield – to name just a few.

Express carwash

Brushless foam vehicle wash franchise, Autoshine Express, is giving non-trading and low volume petrol stations the opportunity to increase their profit margins from two per cent to 500 per cent the company claims.

Multepay introduces commission for e-top-ups

Commission for mobile phone e-top-up sales is now available for independent retailers with a Multepay terminal.

Head office control

VBi has launched the IntelliaHost head office system with central price-book control and data management for retailers with multiple outlets.

Put on the pressure

Carlton Industrial has launched a battery-powered sweeper and polythene glove and paper towel dispenser.

BP signage renewed by XMO

BP has employed new sign company XMO Strata to update signage at more than 300 sites following the launch of premium fuel Ultimate.

Mars delight trade

The biggest countline innovation from Masterfoods in more than a decade will be available this month in the form of Mars Delight.

a:m extends

McVitie’s has added a granola bar to its McV a:m range of breakfast products.

Turtle display is 'key'

High visibility pos will be one of the keystones of the Turtle Wax 2004 promotional programme, according to Peter White, marketing director at Saxon, sole UK distributor .

Tennis deal extended

Interbrew UK has signed a £10m sponsorship deal that takes the Stella Artois Tennis Championships into a new era by extending its alliance for a further five years till 2010.

Boost impulse sweet sales

A new range of display systems from Haribo have been designed to help retailers drive impulse sales

Soft drink sales up by 11%

Functional drinks and mineral waters are the key drivers of growth in the soft drinks category through forecourts, according to Britvic’s Soft Drinks Category Report for 2004.

Hot launch by Eatwell

Eatwell has launched a range of microwaveable ciabatta sandwiches under the Continental Feasters brand.

Hot launch by Eatwell

Eatwell has launched a range of microwaveable ciabatta sandwiches under the Continental Feasters brand.

Poppets cause a stir

The Poppets spring roadshow was launched in London’s Carnaby Street by Dainton and Pritchard – of TV’s Dirty Sanchez – doing a stunning skateboard jump over six members of the public.

KP and McV tyarget impulse

KP Nuts and McV Minis are now available in an impulse format.

Pots of offers from Unilever

Pot Noodle will launch its biggest ever on-pack promotion next month, giving consumers the chance to win one of 50 holidays worth £2,000.

New look for cigars

Henri Winterman’s has renamed and redesigned its range of cigars

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

MANY (MANY!) YEARS AGO when I first started out in business, I can remember discussing politics with my friend’s father, a local businessman who had done very well for himself and was now preparing for retirement. ‘Interesting thing, politics,’ he said. ‘In my experience it’s the unions that do well out of the Tories but it’s big business that does well out of a Labour government.’

Fuel prices April 2004

Data supplied by Catalist Ltd