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Customers come first in our convenience business

Release date:
5 December 2023
What do a great cup of coffee or tailor-made food offers have to do with the energy transition? Two of bp’s mobility and convenience leaders explain why our retail sites have a crucial role to play in meeting customers’ future energy and convenience needs 
 
🕒 6 min read | 📖 Feature| 💡 Why it matters
bp’s wider transformation is under way. While we’re mostly in oil & gas today, we’ve increased global investment into our lower carbon businesses, convenience stores and power trading from around 3% in 2019 to around 23% in 2023.

Hot drinks, fresh food, flowers for your mother’s birthday. Regular shoppers know that bp’s retail sites have something for everyone. As the energy transition changes how our vehicles are powered, our convenience business is changing, too. Here, Greg Franks, SVP of mobility and convenience, Americas, and Tracey Clements, SVP of mobility and convenience, Europe, explain how our customers are front and centre in our transition to becoming an integrated energy company and why we are well placed to succeed in convenience.

bp is working towards becoming an integrated energy company. Where does convenience fit into this?

Tracey: 

Convenience is the business through which we touch people’s daily lives and that won’t change as we continue our journey to becoming an integrated energy company. For customers, convenience retail not only enhances our fuel and EV charging offers, but, in many cases, is the reason why millions of people visit bp every day. In the UK, more than 50% of our transactions are now from customers buying food alone. Customers are not visiting us just to refuel or recharge. 

 

Our convenience business is resilient and has a long history at bp, and an innovative one, too. For example, our partnership with M&S in the UK was a market first – with bp being the first forecourt retailer to enter into a partnership with a grocery retailer – and dates back nearly 20 years. 

Around the world, bp convenience stands out:

  • In New Zealand, our Wild Bean Cafe is one of the nation’s leading coffee brands.
  • In Poland, we have an award-winning collaboration with one of the country’s leading chefs, serving up an Italian focaccia range in our Wild Bean Cafes.
  • In many countries across Europe, such as the UK, Germany and Netherlands, we have successful partnerships with leading grocery retailers. 

 

Globally, we currently process around 12 million customer transactions a day. That makes our stores the part of bp that people come into contact with the most. As we transform bp into an integrated energy company, it will be the place where people see that change happening fastest. 

Collaborating to grow convenience:
 

  • Austria – BILLA NOW
  • Germany – REWE To Go
  • Luxembourg – MyAuchan
  • Netherlands – Albert Heijn to go
  • Poland – EasyAuchan
  • Portugal – Pingo Doce & Go
  • South Africa – Pick n Pay
  • UK – M&S Food

Find out more on our convenience page

How does convenience support bp’s transition?

Greg:  

Our convenience business gives bp access to hundreds of millions of customers. That customer base is increasingly important as our fuel mix changes. bp’s retail sites aim to offer motorists almost everything they want or need as they fill up or charge their cars.

 

Charging an electric vehicle takes longer than filling up a tank of petrol, so customers have more time to pick up a coffee or snack or do their food shopping. Now, we want to offer them even more convenience. For example, truck drivers need secure places to park overnight, so this may be something we look at in the future. 

 

Our purchase of TravelCenters of America is a great way to illustrate how we are expanding what we offer. We do this through integration. These 25-acre sites already have strong traditional convenience and fuel businesses – and we can now look at how to add EV charging, too.

 

And in the future, we could potentially offer biofuels and hydrogen, creating integrated energy hubs. 

“Charging an electric vehicle takes longer than filling up a tank of petrol, so customers have more time to pick up a coffee or snack or do their food shopping.”

 

Greg Franks, SVP of mobility and convenience, Americas

Why is bp’s size and global presence an advantage for bp convenience? 

Tracey:

Our size brings many benefits. We can see the different ways that people shop, why they buy what they buy, and what makes certain products more appealing than others. The data and insights we gather globally allow us to analyse what customers might do next based on how they’re behaving – and it enables us to give them more of what they may want, when and where they want it. 

 

In Germany, where we have the marketing-leading Aral fuel brand, there isn’t yet a strong roadside convenience offer in the market. As EV demand picks up, that will change. People have to wait while their car charges, so there’s time to have a snack or coffee. 

 

We’re building this convenience offer now, to foster loyalty and show customers what the possibilities are. 

 

“Our size brings many benefits. We can see the different ways that people shop, why they buy what they buy, and what makes certain products more appealing than others.”

 

Tracey Clements, SVP of mobility and convenience, Europe

 

Greg:

The US, where I’m based, is such a big market, with big differences in how people shop based on their location. For example, 40% of EVs in the US are on the West Coast1, so that’s where we’re currently installing EV charge points.

 

Elsewhere in the country, we’re making sure it’s easy to retrofit EV charge points at most new retail sites in our network when that local market is ready. Our size also means we can invest in evolving our offers, too.

 

Drinks are a big part of life in the US – we love our drinks – fizzy, flat, sweet, low-sugar, you name it – whereas in the UK, people stop more for food. We know there’s an opportunity to grow our food offer in the US, based on the success of our Thorntons brand.

 

That’s why we’ve got food scientists constantly testing and developing new products, and why we’re training and upskilling our colleagues in food service, as we introduce these new product ranges.

Digital is now an integral part of people’s lives and shopping habits. How can it support convenience?

Tracey:

Few things are more frustrating than apps that don’t work or crash, especially at critical moments. That’s why we’re expanding our digital and data teams to make sure we get this right. We have to continue to develop the digital side of our offer so it keeps getting even better for customers. 

 

Consumers today expect a ‘frictionless’ experience. For example, they want to be able to arrive at our retail site, fuel their vehicle, pick up a pre-ordered coffee and a bite for dinner – and then pay for it all on an app that includes personalized promotions. Our goal is to do this and make shopping with us easier for them and to reward their loyalty.

 

For our business customers, our digital solutions will make it easier for them to manage their fleets and their costs, and make their drivers’ working lives a bit easier. 

Greg:

It takes millions of dollars to build digital products that surprise and delight customers – that’s one reason why we have a competitive advantage. We have the size and resources to do this. 

 

In the US, we’re focusing on building a system that can be tailored to each market, so whatever the fuel type or convenience preference, customers get the benefit of that frictionless digital experience – that could be booking an EV charger, paying for fuel, or ordering coffee and food.

 

As Tracey says, it’ll all happen through our app in the future. 

What makes bp convenience well placed for long-term success?

Tracey:

We’ve got a clear strategy to deliver quality food and drinks in locations that are convenient for customers on the move. Our convenience business is centred around our customers, regardless of where they are in the world.

 

That’s how you win in retail. Our food options – customized for the tastes of each market – are a great reflection of this. 

 

Greg:

Our convenience business is resilient and continues to deliver great results. We’ll keep this up by being brilliant at the basics: having clean sites, a great selection of food and goods, and a safe environment.

 

And, as Tracey said, by using our size and global presence to bring bp businesses together at our forecourts, we can supply our customers with the energy they need today – and tomorrow. 

Regional favourites

💡 Why it matters


Convenience stores have been on our retail forecourts for decades – but mobility is changing and so is our convenience offer. But customers on-the-move will still need energy – for their vehicles and for themselves. 

 

Demand for quality food-to-go is increasing, with external research indicating that the convenience sector globally is growing at ~4% per annum out to 2030, with ~8% per annum growth in food service (Euromonitor). 

 

That’s why we’re investing to transform forecourt convenience and why it is one of the five businesses we call ‘transition growth engines’, along with  bioenergy, EV charging, hydrogen, and renewables & power. 

And,
not or.

The world's transition to a more secure, more affordable, lower carbon energy system needs massive investment in lower carbon energies AND continued investment in oil and gas as the alternatives grow. We're transforming bp to play our part – discover more below

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