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Michael O'Loughlin reflects on the summer past

With Covid hopefully behind us it’s been a fantastic summer of activity. First we had the Jubilee celebrations followed by heatwaves, the ladies euros and the commonwealth games. 

As a sector we had a wonderful event in Faro with RefuelUK followed by the now-famous Eurotank’s customer event during the Cowes Week sailing regatta on the Isle of Wright. The event was attended by dozens of familiar faces from the forecourt sector and also some overseas Eurotank partners. For years I was convinced I didn’t have sea legs but I’m happy to report I was wrong and now look forward to the annual event. 

It’s also been a busy summer of rumours on the disposals & acquisitions front. If you believe what you hear, a number of the big boys are doing their best to exit but some are having more luck than others. 

If these acquisitions are to transpire it will also show the continued interest in the sector and the view from big investors that there is a real future in roadside retail. It I may also suggest if you’re considering exiting, who you should follow and who’s got their strategy right for the future of forecourt retailing.

It’s been a miserable summer for the businesses selling new cars. With a shortage in microchips, you’d be lucky to get your new wheels delivered within six to nine months of ordering. This is of course good news for petrol filling station operators and will probably prolong our destiny for a number more years. It may even force future governments to consider the ridiculous 2030 ban on ICEs. 

The high pump prices of this summer have also been a nuisance for the sector with unnecessary bad publicity and a negative focus from the wider community. 

So what of the difficult winder ahead? Costs are sure to keep rising, and maintaining shop and food sales could be challenging, so my only advice is to look after the margin and that should look after you and your business. 

While Summer is behind us and Autumn is now well and truly here, I’m looking forward to the next big industry get-together, which will be the Forecourt Trader Awards on October 13th. I hope to see you there. 

Published date:
September 30, 2022