South African motorists no longer have to settle for “just a pie” at the local petrol station as a number of retailers now offer full-blown shopping experiences.
According to a recent report by the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA), the outlook for the South African fuel industry is strong with the sector contributing in excess of 6% to the country’s GDP and supporting employment of more than 100,000 people directly or indirectly.
The largest of these is FreshStop at Caltex which currently has 255 stores open nationwide.
It is followed by Pick n Pay in association with BP with 120 stores, and Woolworths Foodstops at Engen stations, with 85 stores.
“As a growth sector for entrepreneurs, fuel retail continues to pay dividends,” said Joe Boyle, director at FreshStop.
“Our stores’ year-on-year growth stands at 8% compared to the industry norm of 1% and the growth figure jumps to 14% when new stores are included,” he said.
“We have invested more than R600 million over the last eight years and we’ve seen this investment lead to the creation of approximately 2,500 direct jobs and reach an annual turnover of almost R2 billion in that period.”
“Our focus has always been on convenience, innovation and quality fresh product and we will continue with this strategy.”
What customers want
Boyle pointed to a recent Nielsen study which highlighted how South African consumers choose which supermarkets they shopped at.
According to the report, the majority of South African are influenced by convenience of location (71%), speed (61%), high-quality fresh produce (71%) and product availability (68%).
In comparison, price (56%) and promotions (56%) are seen as less important factors.
This has resulted in forecourts overtaking traditional stores for convenience as customers want a variety of food product offerings to choose from, from crispy chicken to fish and chips, to burgers and grill items – and they want them quickly, said Boyle.
He also pointed out that the stores have been able to greatly diversify their offerings including Biltong Bars to Seattle Coffee stations.
“Our business is all about serving the on-the-go shopper and despite the in-house brands and food offerings increasing to meet growing demand for choice, we realise that that preparation and service has to be fast, efficient and friendly – they want to be in and out in less than seven minutes maximum,” said Boyle.