Siân Harrington
BP has set its sights on Tesco and Sainsbury in convenience as its begins a strategy to persuade consumers it is the c-store of choice.
Retail director Graham Sims said the oil giant was leading the convenience revolution in the forecourt sector with its Connect fascia and had the tools in place to take on other players in the market. "There is a living commitment to move into this space and we are making great strides," he said. "We are hoping to be competition to the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury and Caffè Nero in the future."
BP has 90 Connect stores in the UK, taking £500m, and plans 300 by 2005. Globally there are 500 Connect stores.
Sims said it had the scale needed for supply agreements, the necessary capital, and sites lending themselves to a convenience offer. But credibility was the most significant barrier. "We need to persuade consumers we are not just another oily' c-store. We are moving towards shopping occasions and want to encourage destination shopping," he said, adding 40% of business came from people on foot.
Key to this strategy is a review of merchandising and ranging and the use of aggressive pricing and promotions to drive growth. Its Wild Bean Café is now the fifth largest coffee house in the UK, with a 7% market share at £14.6m compared to Starbucks' 23% share, and BP is about to test a sampling exercise of Wild Bean Café food.
Nectar scheme membership is also important to its future plans. "It is helping us bridge the gap to a customer and data-based future," said Sims.

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