Petrol Plaza interview with Carlos Oliveira: “The Latin market is much more sophisticated than people think”

Sales director Carlos Oliveira talks to PetrolPlaza about the characteristics of the Latin market, Bever Innovations‘ offer, and the sophistication of the local players.

[Find the original article here on Petrol Plaza]

Carlos Oliveira has accumulated extensive experience in the petrol distribution sector. He started as a Service Station Engineer and was responsible for different roles around retail business development, engineering services and implementation of multi-site programmes in different markets.

Could you give us an overview of Bever Innovations’ business in Latin America?

At the moment we do most of our work with corporate clients, brands such as BP, Shell and OXXO. We also have a presence through third parties. There are image suppliers that use our products and are selling in Latin America (mainly Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Argentina). These markets are very focused on the corporate customer. We are always looking for partners, as they are essential to expand in these regions. Contrary to what people might think, Latin customers are quite sophisticated in their technical requirements and how they want our equipment to interact with their control equipment.

What are the challenges of bringing all the equipment from the factory in the Netherlands and doing the installation in these countries?

The most important thing is to have quality local partners. An important factor for Bever is to train the people who install the equipment. We have colleagues who travel to the assembly areas. Technical training is key. We don’t sell panels to any country without first making sure that the partners are effective. Logistics is not a big problem either as the Netherlands has the port of Rotterdam, the largest in the world.

There are certain market changes that can favour the business of a company like Bever. Are there any interesting ones right now in Latin America?

There are indeed some market openings, and not only in Mexico. Fuel prices are being liberalised in Uruguay. Until now, there wasn’t a great need for electronic (LED) price sings as prices didn’t change often. It is inevitable that prices will become increasingly free. This requires systems that are flexible. We also have the possibility to display current petrol prices with other marketing messages on the monolith. LED panels can make those changes.

Bever installation in Mexico City
Bever Innovations’ installation in Mexico City

Are there any operators that are leading the way in terms of innovation?

There are places where the players are really quite sophisticated. There are companies that don’t just have petrol stations. They have other kinds of services, like OXXO in Mexico. The dynamics of additional services is quite solid. You can see it in Mexico, Brazil, Chile. The stations in Chile are already very much in line with those in Europe. The evolution of what a service station is, taking into account the arrival of alternative fuels, is going to happen here as well.

One issue that both operators and suppliers often point out in relation to Mexico is the over-regulation of the market. With your experience there, how do you see this challenge?

The Mexican regulatory process is very complex. It requires annual certification of equipment and it does not recognise the usual international certifications. This is quite rare for a country. Certification has to be repeated every year. This creates uncertainty for the customer due to the danger of delays. A challenge that affects national and international suppliers alike. The new reform attempted by the government also puts a lot of pressure on station operators.

Can we expect any innovations from Bever for the Latin market?

There are products that are going to be launched soon, both in terms of how our LED price signs are made as well as additional equipment. We are talking about LED panels that allow a lot of flexibility and connectivity. I am certain that they will strengthen the relationship we have with our customers because of the quality and safety guarantee we offer.

Any final considerations on this region?

The Latin market is very complex. Geography comes with big technical variations. Maintaining a station in Monterey and another in Cancun means logical distance complications. That’s why the reliability of equipment like Bever’s is so important, and remote management is an important feature of our products. For an operator this is of great value. At the same time, the Latin market is very dynamic and much more sophisticated than people think. Being able to participate in it is very interesting for us.