Forecourts continue to drive growth across Scotland

Mary Wolf, Phillips 66

The Scottish forecourt market remains very buoyant with huge interest in the sector and significant investment taking place.

The growth of interest in the forecourts sector has been a feature of the last few years in local retailing in Scotland as more and more groups develop an interest in operating forecourts or strengthen the interest they already have.

Fuel brand JET has outlined its commitment to the sector with a recent dedicated conference. Over 100 independent JET retailers attended the two-day Phillips 66 2018 Customer Conference in Cannes, France. Themed ‘Fuelling Growth, Together’, the conference took place in May and saw the company’s retail and wholesale customers come together for a series of business updates and breakout sessions.

Presentations were delivered by Mary Wolf (pictured), Managing Director, UK Marketing, Phillips 66 and Pam McGinnis, President, Global Marketing for Phillips 66. Attendees were also invited to take part in a series of breakout sessions run by senior Phillips 66 representatives who provided an update on the retail, wholesale, supply and sales support areas of the business. In addition, there was a session on cyber security delivered by Phillips 66 IT experts.

Attendees also benefitted from industry insight provided in breakout sessions hosted by two leading experts: Richard Lim, Chief Executive of Retail Economics and Val Kirillovs, New Business Director at HIM Shopper Research and Insights.

Richard provided an overview of the UK’s current economic climate and explored the impact of factors such as GPD and Brexit on consumer confidence and the wider economy.  Val’s session explored the trends affecting fuel consumers’ habits and how forecourts can build consumer trust and loyalty to influence buying habits.

Mary Wolf, MD, UK Marketing, Phillips 66, comments: “We chose ‘Fuelling Growth, Together’ as our conference theme to highlight not only our growth plans for the JET network, but also our ongoing commitment to adding value to our dealers’ businesses so that they can thrive and achieve their own ambitions.”

Andrew and Scott Aitken are joint owners of JET By Pass Service Station in Haddington and JET Rigg Service Station in Dunbar. Andrew said: “We have been with JET for 28 years and they remain one of the few companies in the retail industry who really know how to treat their customers and make them feel valued. The conference was fantastic and it was invaluable to meet up with other JET dealers and glean useful information and updates from JET at the business sessions, but also through conversations throughout the whole event.”

Subway targets Scotland

Subway is encouraging Scotland’s forecourt retailers to “fuel up with the world’s number one franchise”. Subway now has over 2,500 sites in the UK and Ireland, of which over 800 are in non-traditional locations, such as petrol forecourts and convenience stores.

Nick Baker, a JET Forecourt owner and Subway franchisee, said: “I’m delighted with the results the Subway stores are producing at three of my forecourts. The Subway brand is widely recognised and another reason for customers to visit. Since opening the Subway stores, I have seen an increase in footfall as well as growth in our shop and fuel sales.”

Another company stepping their forecourt business up a gear is Costcutter. Sean Russell, Director of Marketing at Costcutter Supermarkets Group, comments: “Forecourt retailing is an important part of our business. All our retailers benefit from expert advice and support and pioneering technology systems to help them run their business more efficiently and effectively.”

Last year saw Costcutter trial and begin the roll-out of its Shopper First Programme which combines local shopper insights with an engaging brand programme to drive significant sales growth for retailers.

Russell says: “We have also embarked on a new supply relationship with the Co-op, which combines our in-depth understanding of the independent sector with the wholesale scale and expertise of the Co-op to create the best possible offer for independent retailers.

Russell was also keen to highlight the focus that Costcutter has on the Scottish market: “Our Business Development teams in Scotland work with all our retailers to provide category management support. We also offer a complete range of Category Advice Packs providing retailers with merchandising and market insights that help drive customer value in stores. Understanding the local audience and shopper mentality is key to retailers getting their offer right, which is why we undertook the most comprehensive shopper study in our 30-year history. The Shopper First Programme has seen us drill down to an individual store level and provide detailed shopper insights, specific to that store’s catchment area, for each and every one of our stores.”

Russell believes these insights show retailers how the shopping behaviour of their local communities fits into the way they live their lives. From there, retailers can access local range and category advice enabling them to keep developing their stores.