The 2018 issue of the Retail Marketing Survey supplement suggests that consolidation of the UK fuel retail sector has stabilised, with 8,442 sites operating at the close of 2017, compared to 8,489 sites in 2016 and 8,472 in 2015 (see p7).
The market leaders remain the same as last year, with BP topping the forecourt branding field at 1,292 outlets in operation at the close of 2017 (up from 1,278 in 2016); followed by Esso with 1,093 branded sites (2016: 1,081) and Shell with 1,042 (2016: 1,029). The next largest is Texaco, with 739 branded sites (down on 2016’s 768 sites); followed by 479 Gulf-branded service stations (2016: 503) – see p2. This latter figure is virtually level with the largest supermarket brand, Tesco, with 505 sites (2016: 504); followed by Morrisons with 333 (2016: 333) – see p6. This year’s figures show Asda taking over from Sainsbury’s to take third place, with 318 sites (2016: 304), although the margin is small, with Sainsbury’s operating 311 forecourts (2016:306). Meanwhile, the small and unbranded sector, which makes up the balance of the UK network, numbered 703 by year-end (2016: 710) – see p4.
The supermarket sector continues to hold the leading market share – some 46%, with dealer sites holding 38% and company sites the remaining 16% – see p10.
Fuel prices rose from an average of 109.78 p/l in 2016 to 118.39 p/l in 2017, and from 110.52 p/l for diesel to 120.13 p/l (see p12), reflecting rising average wholesale prices for the year (see also p12). Meanwhile, HM Revenue and Customs data (see bottom table, p13) shows 43,132bn litres of petrol and diesel were released to the UK market between January–November 2017, similar to levels seen for the same period in 2016.
Registered UK vehicles sales continued their record breaking trend, to reach 37.5mn vehicles on the roads by the close of 2017, a rise of 1mn from 2016.This year’s editorial features look at how UK fuel retailers are adapting their offerings to remain competitive, while keeping an eye on macro-trends such as government legislation banning the sale of new petrol and diesel powered cars and vans from 2040, digitalisation and the rise of electric vehicles, which may change the game in the long term.
We also review the work of the Energy Institute’s Service Station Panel, which develops guidance reflecting good industry practice for the fuel retail sector, both in the UK and internationally.