It’s a very exciting time for petrol retailers as changing consumer behaviour means most now recognise the value of buying local and are happy to consider the forecourt as their local shop.
That’s the view of Ramsay MacDonald, retail director of fuel supplier Certas Energy, who said it’s the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of petrol retailers and their staff that has made this a reality.
“Faced with the onslaught from the supermarkets over countless years, petrol retailers have adapted, invested in their convenience offering, improved their marketing and upped their standards of service,” he said.
MacDonald made the comments in a speech at an industry event last month.
“It’s time that we made more noise about this remarkable turnaround. In the UK, forecourts employ around 117,000 people, there are now 8,700 forecourt convenience stores with retailers investing on average £16,000 a year to further develop their business. Impressive statistics and great results with increased non-fuel turnovers, improved shop margins and a whole new customer base to sell to,” he said.
Based in Larbert, Certas Energy says it is the largest fuel supplier to independent dealers in Scotland, including a network of over 90 Gulf branded forecourts. Its Gulf brand is one of the most prominent in Scotland, with a network extending from the Borders to the Isles.
“You cannot rest on your laurels in this dynamic marketplace and investment in the brand is essential, at a local, national and global level, to extend our appeal to new audiences. We offer our dealers regular low-cost, high-impact forecourt promotions – to drive new business to site – and global sponsorships that maintain and strengthen the brand’s credentials,” said MacDonald.
“We can be greatly optimistic about the future for petrol retailing in Scotland, although it remains an extremely challenging marketplace. Having a network of 24 sites here provides us with a depth of understanding of the convenience sector and petrol retailing and an insight into the future trends that many of our competitors do not have. We share that knowledge with every Gulf dealer to ensure that they are fully equipped to stay ahead of the game.
“A good example is alcohol sales,” he said.
“We have had real success in getting 13 new licences in the last two years – we are more than happy to share our experiences with any prospective customers.”