BP will launch a standalone Connect convenience chain when it has built a strong retail brand through its solar powered Connect forecourts. A spokesman said: "We want to be the number one convenience retailer, and a standalone Connect launch is on our radar. We would initially be looking for sites in densely populated urban areas. For now we are concentrating our shops offer on the forecourts though." The oil conglomerate wants to develop an environmentally-friendly global brand for the convenience market through Connect, and to position the BP offer away from associations with fuel. When it launched Connect at the end of 2000 it said it wanted to grow business by over 10% a year worldwide, with a change of emphasis towards retail. There are now 75 of the solar powered Connect forecourts in England and Scotland, each of which cost more than £1m to build. A spokesman said BP was continuing to tinker with the format to enhance the Connect proposition and customer service levels. He said the stores' integral Wild Bean cafes were proving particularly successful, and BP was considering extending the menus with more snack and pizza lines. And BP Connect in Luton is now trialling a facility which allows customers to pay their council tax bills in store. A pilot super-environmentally friendly Connect in Hornchurch, Essex, which launched last year and carries a range of organic and Fairtrade products is still being tested. The Connect all-in-one footprint includes hi-tech pumps, car wash, 24-hour Wild Bean cafe, shop, internet kiosks, a Victoria Wine off licence or entertainments concession. , postbox, cashpoint and national lottery terminal. Solar panel canopies over the forecourt generate energy to run the retail site. {{NEWS }}