The steps taken to transform a declining petrol business into an industry leading forecourt business were outlined by Graham Timbers, manager of company owned sites for Kuwait Petrol GB. Timbers explained that in the early 1990s the company was "forced to innovate" because it suffered a 24% reduction in fuels gross margins at its Q8 petrol stations. The company set itself a mission to increase its stores contribution to gross margins from 15% to 26%. Timbers said the success of Tesco's Express format spurred the company to seek a retail partner, and it found that Budgens was a good fit with its business. It had a good geographic fit and a similar turnover, was a recognised brand authority for food, and had expertise in retailing and logistics. In October 1995 the companies opened a site with a Budgens designed small supermarket format and quickly found that it made a significant improvement to sales and margins. Two more trials of the format, one each in an urban and suburban environment, proved successful, but Q8 decided it needed a sales based replenishment system because of the extra work involved for their managers. The full roll-out of format under the Q8 Xpress fascia began in summer 1998 and there are now 18 stores in operation. Timbers said: "The key to the whole thing is fresh, and with deliveries six days a week we can keep wastage down to an acceptable level." Timbers stated research by HIM found that the Q8 Xpress stores had an average of 2.6 visits a week compared with an industry average of 1.8. Average spend was £4.16 (industry average £3.27) and average spend per customer was the best in the forecourt industry at £10.82. {{NEWS }}