PetrolPlaza Special: Southern Europe.
Coronavirus, electric vehicles, massive fuel price increases, war. Every article written in the last few years about the fuel retail industry would have featured one if not all four of these topics. It is impossible to discuss the current market or the outlook without acknowledging the effects of both the global pandemic and more recently the conflict in Ukraine. Couple this with the current balancing act between the long-serving fossil fuel market and what appears to be an electric vehicle future and we find ourselves in a period of hesitant, but necessary change.
Carlos Oliveira has been working in the fuel retail industry for over 30 years, starting his career at Mobil Oil’s Lisbon office in Portugal, before moving on to a European-wide rebranding project with BP which included working on the BP/ Bovis Alliance initiative.
Since 2015, he has been the Iberia Sales Director for Bever Innovations, a leading innovator in the LED lighting market. Whilst much has changed in the retail fuel industry over the last three decades, there has been a dramatic shift more recently in global markets, as retailers still recovering from the shockwaves of Covid are forced to make adjustments to the way they do business.
“The two big themes we are seeing in the Iberian region are improved shop offerings on existing real estate and alternative fuels. It is now very common to see installations of EV chargers at all the major service stations in Portugal and Spain and we are seeing an increasing number of collaborations between major fuel retailers and supermarkets,” explained Carlos.
Partnerships in Portugal include collaborations between supermarket chain Pingo Doce and BP, Galp Energia, and leading retailer Continente. Also in Spain, Cepsa and multinational hypermarket group Carrefour. But the collaborations sometimes extend way beyond fuel retailers just looking to improve the delivery of their convenience stores. In many cases, supermarkets are replacing their own fuel offering with that of a recognized international fuel brand.
Carlos explained: “We are witnessing huge synergies in the market, with major interactions happening between the key players, looking to take advantage from collaborations and share resources. The fact is, after the last few years, businesses are all suffering, surrounded by the cloud of Covid and now with the war in Ukraine, but I believe that in the bad times your imagination is driven by positive things.
“We are in such an accelerated change period, the decisions currently being made by the larger organizations seem to be extremely conservative, with them spending very wisely or potentially, not spending at all until the picture of exactly what is going to happen over the next few years becomes clearer,” he added.
For Bever Innovations, currently involved in several projects across Spain and Portugal, the rebranding exercises associated with these collaborations represent a major opportunity for both forecourt and shop lighting applications. In the current climate, energy efficiency and cost savings are at the top of most retailers’ lists when installing new equipment.
Bever’s intelligent lighting systems are the ideal solution to support these goals with their long-life span and smart dimming technology, automatically reducing lighting to a third of its power in the absence of customers. As soon as movement is detected, the luminaires switch on automatically, ensuring a safe refueling environment. Through Bever’s EOS Technology and its EOS Connected platform, major fuel retailers and international oil companies can monitor the status of their EOS products worldwide, 24/7, with all reported malfunctions being highlighted automatically and immediately.
Also, with electric vehicles currently on the minds of most retailers, Carlos believes the role of suppliers, such as Bever, is to be adaptable and to be ready for the challenges that lie ahead. He explained: “We have certain decisions from governing bodies around the world to stop producing new cars with petrol and diesel engines, and retailers will simply have to adjust to this new reality. MOCs like Shell are now opening dedicated EV stations in London.
“For Bever Innovations, change in this respect is not so much of an issue, as forecourt canopies and shops will still need lighting and prices will always need displaying. However, there is of course a timely opportunity for us here, but It will be a bumpy road over the next few years for everyone until that is we have the future clearly mapped out.”
About EOS Technology
Bever’s EOS Technology presents opportunities in terms of asset management and predictive maintenance. Through the EOS Connected platform, major fuel retailers and international oil companies can monitor the status of their EOS products worldwide, 24/7, with all reported malfunctions being highlighted automatically and immediately.
Connecting to third-party systems
If desired, links to the Internet and/or third-party systems can be made using various EOS Bridges. The EOS Bridges take care of a correct translation of the ‘language’ of EOS into the communication protocol of the linked systems and vice versa. The installation of an EOS Connected Bridge (gateway) with an internet connection makes remote management possible, among other things. Administrators and – if required – the technical department or maintenance party, can easily log in from any desired location to the Bever Innovations’ EOS Connected web portal, where the EOS lighting products of their fuel station(s) can be accessed, monitored and managed. As a result, maintenance and service engineers no longer need to physically visit fuel station locations to gain insight into the status of their EOS products, they can read out energy consumption and can give any further insight into possible malfunctions.