Britain’s petrol stations generated over £4 billion in sales over a 12-month period as forecourts evolve beyond simply refuelling points to becoming fully-fledged convenience stores.
Petrochemicals giant BP estimates that up to half of its customers don’t buy petrol when they visit a forecourt, with petrol pumps becoming an additional facility rather than the prime attraction, as drivers opt to do more on-the-go shopping.
Sites that were once run exclusively by fuel retailers such as BP and Esso have partnered with independent retailers to go beyond the basic petrol station. MRH and Euro Garages are among the independent chains that have claimed a significant share of Britain’s forecourt business, while casual dining franchises such as Subway and Greggs have helped expand the choices available to drivers.
Forecourts have replaced the traditional corner shops and so should design their shop floors accordingly, providing a familiar layout with a looped floorplan to optimise queue management. This also enables the retailer to promote products and services as the customer walks through the store.
In recent decades, the petrol retail sector has experienced myriad challenges.
A fundamental shift in power from big brands to smaller franchises and operators changed the game.
Now it is clear that the changes are only just beginning.
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We also explore the potential of new business models and the opportunities created by new technology, before considering what lies ahead for this resilient and adaptable industry.