30|Retail News|February 2021|www.retailnews.ie
Forecourt Focus: Analysing the Market
Forecourt market remains strong
Despite the impact of Covid-19, Ireland’s forecourt sector is in good health, according to the latest data from international experts Experian Catalist. IRELAND’s forecourt sector remains in a good position, despite the impact of Covid-19 over the year. The latest report into the Republic of Ireland forecourt market from Experian Catalist, the London-based experts who provide a leading global source of information and analysis on petrol and retail forecourts, reveals that the number of forecourt sites grew by 64 over the course of 2020, to a total of 1,871. These new forecourt sites included a number of high profile openings by the biggest players in the market, Circle K, Maxol and Applegreen, while the figures also reflect last year’s sale of Tesco’s 22 Irish fuel sites to DCC. The latter move makes DCC a sizeable player in the market with 114 sites across the country, as the former Tesco forecourts (now branded as Certa) joined DCC’s Great Gas and Emo forecourt brands in Ireland. “Overall, I think the market is fairly stable in terms of the number of sites,” explains James Haigh, Business Consultant, Experian Catalist. “As one would expect, some of the smaller, more isolated sites have closed but the major brands have added a few sites – several new to industry (NTI) or greenfield sites and some obsolete sites which have been reopened. The focus continues to
be on the food-to-go and shop offer with the forecourt as another service offer rather than the main purpose.” Forecourts provide local shopping amid pandemic In keeping with the trends in recent years, the new generation of forecourt stores are ‘shops that also sell fuel’ rather than ‘fuel outlets that also sell groceries’. In fact, James believes that the Covid-19 pandemic may have seen increased sales for some outlets, which provided local shopping amenities to consumers amid the restrictions. “In the spring last year, there was a concern that the forecourt industry could be very badly affected,” James notes, acknowledging that “volumes certainly dropped as travel restrictions were introduced”. However, he explains that “these have recovered quite well over the course of the year; I think the trend for more local shopping has been a distinct benefit to the forecourts.” Indeed, he feels that the increase in importance of local shopping is a key take-away from 2020 and one that will continue to impact the market over the coming year. “I think that one of the key lessons to come from 2020 is the importance of the local market and each site’s customer base,” he avows.
James Haigh, Business Consultant, Experian Catalist.