A fast-changing year for fuel retailers

2016 was a year full of extraordinary events across the globe and the world of petrol retail was no exception, according to the PRA’s chairman, Brian Madderson.

2016 was a year of surprises, according to PRA chairman Brian Madderson, who pointed to growth in the forecourt sector coming from the burgeoning convenience retail side of the business.

Introducing the PRA’s Market Review 2017, he said highlights of the year in the sector included:
• Major oil companies’ divestment programme of retail assets petered out leaving Shell (565 sites), BP (320) and Esso (200) with no known plans to reduce further.
• The ‘space race’ of the Big Four finally halted with just Asda building around 20 new Automat style forecourts.
• Aggressive fuel pricing distorted market volumes between December 2015 and April 2016.
• November saw OPEC’s attempt to restore its authority by cutting production for the first time since 2008.
• Emerging ‘super dealer’ groups continued their purchase spree building towards a combined total of 1,500 sites.
• New vehicle registrations hit another record high with 2.7m forecast for 2016.

A case can be made for suggesting that the UK market for conventional fuel is at or close to its lifetime peak.

Brian said: “A case can be made for suggesting that the UK market for conventional fuel is at or close to its lifetime peak with a record number of vehicles in the UK, record number of new cars, record congestion, record atmospheric pollution and now record prices being paid for forecourts assets with very limited alternative use value.  
“On the other side, there are record numbers of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) coming to market with electric only, hybrid electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) plus hydrogen all competing for the consumer and business purses in the near future.”
• This month, the PRA plans to meet with Humza Yousef MSP, Minister for Transport and the Islands, to discuss a number of issues of importance to Scottish petrol retailers, including: ULEV Consultation, RTFO Consultation, the rural fuel duty rebate scheme, fuel duty, E10 petrol and B7 diesel.