29 Sep 2010

Food to the fore as petrol station competition heats up

6:21 pm on 29 September 2010

With competition between service stations expected to intensify, petrol companies and analysts say the way to improved profits may be through food.

Service stations are already shifting their focus from more traditional products centred on the petrol pump to something more akin to a cafe.

BP runs Wild Bean cafes in eight countries and at 79 of its BP Connect stores in New Zealand - and now about 100 independently owned and operated 2GO stores are rolling out Kiwiana-themed menus created by chef Alison Holst.

Managing director Mike McGuinness says the company wants to keep up with consumers' changing tastes.

Greenstone Energy admits Shell's food options were far from best in class when it purchased the stations in April.

Chief executive Mike Bennetts says a research project looking at what customers want is nearing completion, and he expects to make changes early next year.

'Room for improvement'

Coriolis Research says that BP is leading the market in offering food at the moment, but all service stations have room for improvement.

Managing director Tim Morris says cigarettes make up about 40% of instore sales at petrol stations at present, but food will play an increasingly important role in driving profits, as fuel margins are squeezed further.