Retailing group Pick and Pay did promise to fight back and is appearing to do so partly through a partnership with fuel retailing giant BP.
Pick n Pay has lost some ground in the past few years which was reflected in its financial results for the six months ended August. Earnings declined by 34% and the group’s chairman Gareth Ackerman acknowledged that the business let competitors overtake it in the past few years. Ackerman promised an aggressive expansion of Pick n Pay foot print to recapture lost market share.
In a statement issued yesterday BP revealed that it was embarking on expansion of its retail service in its service station partly through a partnership with Pick n Pay. This will partly transpire into a chain of BP service station based Pick n Pay Express stores.
BP said it will be investing significantly over the next three years on its BP Express consumables retailing service. Coming to complement BP’s Wild Bean Café, this new round of investment will see the introduction of Fresh, a new food range with an emphasis on fresh fruit and veg, baked goods, home-meal replacements and grab ‘n go meals for busy commuters. It said Fresh stores will be located at non-residential BP service stations, while Pick n Pay Express stores will be situated at BP forecourts in residential areas.
Year-on-year, there has been a 25% increase in sales for BP Express stores, which includes the popular Wild Bean Café coffee and confectionary offer. BP is now tracking 7.4% ahead of the national retail convenience sector, and the introduction of its Fresh stores is likely to see this lead increase.
Troy Maidwell, Head of BP Convenience says Fresh is the logical evolution of the C-store. “Gone are the days when consumers were happy with limited ‘dashboard dining’ – an emphasis on healthy eating and the resurgence of home cooking means they want fresh produce and quality ingredients to be available 24/7, which is exactly what Fresh will provide.
“Our lifestyles have changed dramatically since we launched our first convenience forecourts in 1994. It’s no longer about just filling up with petrol – it’s about making our time-strapped lives easier by offering an all-in-one retail solution. The fact that cellphone airtime is our biggest in-store seller shows that consumers turn to us for all their day-to-day needs.
“One of the aims of the upgrade project is to institute power efficiency wherever possible and to offer our customers Wi-Fi so they can keep in touch no matter where they are,” says Maidwell.
Wild Bean Café (WBC) has a presence in 120 of the 170 BP Express stores across SA, and is already the country’s largest convenience retailer of coffee, pies and muffins.
Maidwell believes that the multi-million rand upgrade will have positive spin-offs. “BP Express will become the convenience store that offers the best fresh costumer solution in the industry. We are confident that we will extend our foothold as the most recognised and preferred petroleum brand in South Africa.”