Forecourts driving ahead in 2020

JET forecourt

The forecourt sector looks set for another big year, with many of the key players already off to a flyer in driving growth in 2020.

The vibrant forecourt sector looks to be picking up in 2020 where it left off at the end of last year with some of the biggest players already making big progress in making this year another year of growth.

JET has revealed that it has further strengthened its presence in the north of Scotland with West End Filling Station in Dingwall joining the fuel brand’s network. Highland Fuels, a longstanding JET Approved Partner in Scotland, has won the contract to directly supply Phillips 66 fuels to the 2.4 mlpa site, using the JET brand under licence from Phillips 66.

West End Filling Station is owned by independent dealers Elaine Houston and Steve Cunningham, who took over the site in 2006 and also own Bridgend Service Station in Fife. West End is located in a prime location on Strathpeffer Road, one of the main routes in and out of Dingwall, not far from the town centre, industrial premises and housing.

Since joining the JET network in early November, the forecourt has been fully re-imaged in the latest JET brand and benefits from a range of forecourt design improvements to create a safe, friendly and welcoming environment for customers.

The 19-nozzle forecourt and 2,000sq ft Mace-branded convenience store attract a steady stream of customers and commuters from Dingwall and the surrounding areas. The forecourt also experiences a marked uplift in footfall during the summer months with tourists visiting the Scottish Highlands. On-site facilities include two jet washes, a cash point and two Costa coffee machines. The site also boasts a strong food-to-go offering and an extensive alcohol selection, with a wide range of malt whiskies and Scottish gins.

When West End’s supply contract for was up for renewal, both Elaine and Steve were impressed with the package and level of customer service offered by Highland Fuels. They also recognised the the potential that the JET brand holds in attracting forecourt footfall.

Steve Cunningham comments: “The JET brand is well known in the area and we really liked their new image. Due to the layout of our forecourt, we can only accommodate smaller tankers so the option to have Phillips 66 fuels delivered by Highland Fuels’ smaller tankers to a JET-branded forecourt was the ideal solution for West End. We also get the added bonus of being able to offer our customers JET ULTRA Premium Unleaded fuel, which is proving very popular.

“We’re up against tough local competition, with a large Tesco store and forecourt in the town centre, but with the JET brand now in place, I’m confident that we will attract more customers than ever before. Customer feedback has been very positive and the impact the new JET image has had on the site’s appearance can’t be overestimated.”

Highland Fuels now owns and operates 15 forecourts across Scotland, three of which are JET-branded. The company also supplies dealer sites across Scotland under the Thames and Highland Fuels brands.

Paul Yates, JET’s Retail Account Manager for Scotland, concludes: “We’re delighted to have another JET-branded site in the Highlands. West End Filling Station takes our total number of sites in this region of Scotland alone to five, which is impressive given that it is one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country. With around 50 independently owned JET-branded forecourts throughout Scotland and another addition to be announced early in the new year, it’s a very exciting time for our Scottish network.”

Gulf forecourt

Similarly, Gulf Retail is relishing the prospect of a buoyant 2020, having recently re-defined its Dealer proposition with a much greater focus upon driving up retailer margins and shop revenues. It anticipates further growth across Scotland as it looks to add to its 100-strong Scottish forecourt network.

Initiatives taken by the Larbert-based company in recent months include the launch of a fresh new eye-catching forecourt image and the roll-out of an industry-first fuel loyalty programme.

“Our proposition is fully in-tune with today’s convenience-led marketplace,” enthuses Richard Billington, Retail Director, Certas Energy. “Gulf Retail is a progressive business partner, taking innovative strides to futureproof the forecourt operations of every one of our Dealers.

“We recognise the impact that we can have as experienced retailers ourselves, testing and proving third party supplier products and services before rolling out to our Gulf Dealers. We also have the size and scale to reduce the cost of these which will ultimately drive up Dealer profitability. Enhanced arrangements with third party suppliers currently include best-to-ndustry deals with Aquavape and Fastrack and several of the UK’s leading system providers including Point Four and Orbis Tech. These provide the technology-driven solutions for Retailers of all sizes looking to futureproof their businesses.”

Nothing emphasises Gulf’s determination to support its Dealers more than the launch of its Oomph loyalty platform and recent agreement with Spar. Oomph utilises cutting-edge technology to drive new revenues to dealers and is the only fuel loyalty programme that gives Dealers access to customer data and allows them to tailor offers to suit.

“It’s an absolute game-changer for many retailers,” continues Billington. “Even though it’s still in its infancy, we are seeing impressive results and a direct correlation between membership of the scheme and increased site visits.”

Gulf dealers can now talk to their customer groups via SMS, email and a dedicated phone app and tailor offers to specific groups to boost in-store profits and strengthen community ties. They also have the tools to delve deep into the shopping basket of a customer and respond accordingly with dedicated calls to action.

The arrangement with Spar puts at the disposal of the Gulf network its wealth of retail experience, consumer insight and market knowledge, along with a vast range of local products to choose from, including the widest possible choice of fresh foods and food-to-go options.

“Our Scottish network is at the heart of our operation and we are committed to growth by offering Dealers a much more pragmatic business partnership than any that they’ve had with other fuel suppliers,” concludes Billington. “Many of the very best UK dealers are turning to Gulf, recognising that whatever the challenges facing our industry in 2020 and beyond, we are able to deliver real value to their business.”

Bridgend community award

Bridgend Filling Station in Inverness has picked up the ‘Community Engagement’ award at Gulf’s annual forecourt standards competition. Duncan Fraser and his team at the store were crowned winners for the exceptional work they undertake to support their community and preserve essential services in the Highlands.

Demonstrating its commitment to the local area, Bridgend’s ongoing initiatives have seen, amongst other things, the introduction of a post office, now the largest sorting office outside of Inverness with 13 ‘Posties’ operating from it. The site also operates a mobile Post Office in local villages two days a week and actively invests in personnel and facilities such as a full-service launderette and convenience store.