Forecourt Trader
Prices galore as website goes live

A new website, is being launched this month which could radically change the way independent fuel retailers do business, according to Darren Briggs, managing director of a recently formed company based in Wales, called Big Oil Associates.

Rugby's last indie closes

A Midlands town has lost what is believed to be its last independent petrol

Surprise at level prices

The prices of unleaded fuel and diesel are in a period of almost unprecedented stability, according to the latest Allstar Fuel report from fleet and fuel management company Arval PHH. It has found that since mid-August the prices of both diesel and unleaded have varied by less than a penny per litre from week to week – 77.50-78ppl for diesel and 76-77 ppl for unleaded.

New show shares the stage with CRS

The importance of convenience retailing for today’s forecourt operators is acknowledged this March with the launch of the Forecourt Retailing Show, NEC, Birmingham, March 14-17. Part of the Convenience Retailing Show 2004, the event is the initiative of Forecourt Trader and Convenience Store publisher, William Reed Business Media Ltd, which also organises the biennial International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment Exhibition.

Stansted airport shake up

The planned second runway at Stansted Airport in Essex will bring more road traffic to the area, but other aspects of the airport’s expansion have brought mixed fortunes to forecourts on the A120 and the A10 access roads.

LRP supply not in crisis

Fuel distributor, Bayford & Co, has vowed to continue meeting demand for

Low prices better than promotions

Six out of 10 shoppers prefer every day low pricing (EDLP) to pure promotions, although they miss the excitement of buy-one-get-one-frees (bogofs) and similar offers, according to IGD’s new Shopper Insight Loyalty and Pricing report.

Sunny outlook

Nearly one quarter of the players in the petrol retailing sector have shown unprecedented confidence about their prospects for the coming year, according to a new survey by financial publishers, Plimsoll. And with sales set to increase an average one per cent and profit margins likely to remain low but steady at one per cent, Plimsoll senior analyst David Pattison believes the industry looks set for a rewarding year in 2004.

Does this sound familiar?

The flyer from Our Price offered ‘amazingly low priced, fast-selling chart DVDs’ along with a free counter display, window poster, delivery, 25 per cent profit margin on every DVD sold and a 100 per cent sale or return guarantee.

Sue online

One of the forecourt operators who contacted me about Deal Direct/Our Price was Bernard Knowles who runs Forge Garage in North Yorkshire.

Rules is rules

As one petrol retailer observed to me recently, you can hardly walk across the forecourt without breaking some regulation or other.

Smell a rat?

Here’s a seasonal story for you. Chris and Marion Clark, who run Marion’s Shop and Filling Station on Rousay in the Orkneys, wondered why every Switch transaction via Streamline in the run-up to Christmas involved a call to Streamline’s authorisation centre.

Everything's fine really...

Back in the balmy days of last summer, we received a call from a reader asking whether he could have a set of our published sales and margin figures covering the last 12 months, the idea being that he could show his managers how much better their forecourts were doing than the industry average. When we asked whether he was interested in any of our services, the answer was a polite “No thank you”. So, having e-mailed him some statistics, we received a nice thank you note in return, and that was that.

Chain reaction

The forecourt sector is fantastically exciting, according to the new managing director of the symbol arm of Budgens, Paul Mildenstein. He joined the company in September from convenience group T&S stores, which was acquired by Tesco. His background covers spells in the drinks, restaurants and coffee sector and includes franchising experience with Pizza Hut and Costa. His remit is to give the Budgens brand a shot in the arm, considerably raising its profile in the highly competitive world of convenience retailing. He believes service stations are well-placed to accommodate the Budgens ‘comprehensive range of quality fresh food in the local community’ offer.

Pastures new

The booming residential property market is continuing to impact positively on the market for forecourt property. Prices – while still not as strong as pre-Pricewatch days – are improving year on year.

Taxing times

Another year, another set of new regulations regarding the sale of tobacco. The latest came into play on January 1, with regard to tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels. The maximum level for tar content is now 10mg, for nicotine it is 1mg and for carbon monoxide 10mg.

Pipe dream

BP and Total were both named and shamed as two of the most persistent polluters in 2002. All for letting fuel leak from underground tanks and pipework.

CCTV for security peace of mind

Bosch Security Systems has introduced its latest CCTV system – the Eazeo, for an all-in-one security solution.

Spinner for smaller sites

Video Box Office has unveiled a spinner to display 110 DVD and VHS films, games and CDs.

VBi receives Sage credit

VBi Retail Solutions has just been awarded accreditation as one of the first Sage Accredited Resellers.

Slice of the action

McVitie’s Cake Company has entered the slices market with McV Taste of Home Slices.

Cream of the crop

Nestlé Rowntree has added Nestlé Double Cream to its range of filled eggs.

New cake additions get the Go Ahead

Go Ahead has introduced four new cake products – two Oat Breaks varieties,

Smooth talking

Imperial Tobacco has rebranded Richmond Gold to Richmond Smooth, and Richmond Superkings Gold to Richmond Superkings Smooth.

Rizla shrinks King Size Red papers

Rizla King Size Red papers are to be relaunched in a narrower format – from 55mm to 44mm.

Health drinks for kids

A range of healthy drinks for children has been launched by Metro Drinks.

Cream egg goes mini

Cadbury Trebor Bassett has launched Cadbury Creme Egg Minis – a 58g of bag of miniature Crème Eggs.

Rental package for small sites

Video Box Office has launched a rental package for the small rural retailer.

Ciggi's designer wear

Smokers can now personalise their cigarette packs thanks to new plastic cases from Ciggi.

Mo'gas: An irreverent view from the network

SO I WAKE UP ON CHRISTMAS MORNING and the room feels decidedly chilly. After a quick check to make sure the radiators are switched on I venture downstairs to discover that the boiler isn’t working. Now considering we were having a houseful round for Christmas lunch this is not good timing!! Being the cautious sort I do have a maintenance contract, but more in hope than belief I phone British Gas (or whatever they’re called now) and explain my problem. ‘Don’t worry, sir, we’ll have someone round to you as soon as possible’. And by lunchtime the engineer had called, fitted a new thermocouple and Aunt Gladys and the rest of the family were able to enjoy their Christmas dinner in the tropical heat my wife insists is ‘pleasantly warm’. Not bad service for £180 a year.

Fuel prices January 2004

Data supplied by Catalist Ltd