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Emission impossible

Government indecision over the introduction of E10 a blend of fuel with up to 10% ethanol content compared with the current limit of 5% in E5 is nothing new. It was just after the London Olympics in 2012 when the then Transport Minister Norman Baker wrote to industry associations to tell them the government had changed its mind on E10. It had been expected to give the go ahead towards the end of that year, but after many consumers rejected the new fuel when it was introduced in Germany, the government decided it was too soon because it was not compatible with an estimated 20% of cars on UK roads.

C-store growth rate set to soar

New market analysis by HIM, revealed by insight director Gareth Nash, predicts that the growth rate in the convenience sector in 2019 will accelerate, with overall turnover up 3.5% to £41.7bn, compared with a growth rate of 2.7% last year. He said the growth rate had been slowing slightly over the past three years, with competition from the discounters, rising business costs and declining tobacco sales all having an impact. But this year the sector is set for a "strong growth rate" well ahead of the grocery market average.

Fuelling the future

The UK is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of automotive hydrogen development, with countries such as China, Korea and Japan pushing ahead at a rapid rate, according to Charles Purkess, business development manager at ITM Power. He was part of the 'Fuelling the Future: On the Road to Zero' session chaired by TV presenter and motoring journalist Quentin Willson, at last month's Forecourt Show. The packed event featured PRA chairman Brian Madderson; BP Chargemaster CEO Dave Newton; TSG UK's business development director of EV Solutions, Michelle Machesney; and petroleum manager of the London Fire Brigade, Clare Scawthorn.

Last throw of the dice

When the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its damning provisional findings on the proposed merger between Sainsbury's and Asda on February 20, many commentators thought the deal was dead.

A year of upheaval

This year has seen massive upheaval in the Top 50 Indies listing, compared with 2018 when not only were the Top 10 companies all the same companies as the previous year, but they were all in the same order too. Not least among the changes is that, for the first time in its existence, the Top 50 is not headed by MRH. It was swallowed up by MFG last year, making the combined organisation well over twice the size of its nearest rival and taking top spot for the first time.

Evading the issue

When a Parliamentary Committee of MPs announced last year that it was launching an inquiry into the hand car wash sector it appeared that a long campaign was finally paying off. For years the PRA and its sister organisation, the Car Wash Association (CWA), have been highlighting the explosion in the numbers of rogue operators, and calling for action by the authorities. By paying no taxes, using slave labour and ignoring pollution regulations, these operators were able to undercut legitimate car washes, driving many of them out of the sector.

Competition for growth still intense

We've just had a year of seismic events with the second largest operator, MFG, buying its larger rival MRH, and Sainsbury's agreeing a deal with Asda that would make it the UK's number one road fuel retailer. And while one deal has cleared all its regulatory hurdles, and the other is facing an uphill struggle in its engagement with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), both are likely to continue to reverberate through the coming year.

The police have got it wrong

As police services across the UK have cut the number of frontline officers in response to funding pressures, chief constables and politicians have been looking for ways to ease the burden on the remaining crime fighters. One way that has been repeatedly suggested is downgrading the importance attached to forecourt drive-off crimes. It is a policy that has been proposed by a number of police chiefs over the years, but the first time it made major national headlines was in 2014.

Turning the tide

For many years the government has turned a deaf ear whenever the PRA and the Car Wash Association (CWA) have highlighted the scourge of illegal hand car washes springing up in towns and cities across the UK, but finally it has been presented with evidence it can't ignore. The Commons Environment Audit Committee (EAC) has completed its inquiry into hand car washes (HCWs) and the cross-party group of MPs has produced a report containing hard-hitting criticism of authorities for failing to enforce the law and recommendations on how corrupt HCWs can be tackled.

Turning the tide

The sell-offs of large tranches of their forecourt estates by some of the biggest oil companies has changed the structure of the UK market for most of this century. No one would argue that MRH, MFG, Euro Garages and Rontec would not have been the dominant groups in the Top 50 Indies in 2018, whether or not there had been the sell-offs, but they would be nowhere as big as they are without them.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 8 July 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East131.8257.70138.44127.82
East Midlands131.33138.41127.59
London131.11140.01128.34
North East129.55137.90126.73
North West130.5757.70136.49127.08
Northern Ireland128.66138.90125.50
Scotland130.72134.34127.37
South East131.9757.90137.52128.38
South West131.2957.90137.34127.49
Wales130.27135.78126.66
West Midlands131.04138.64127.72
Yorkshire & Humber130.4384.90137.01127.30

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