February 4, 2021
As brand and design consultants specialising in the fuel retail sector we are often asked for evidence that branding and design makes a difference to the bottom line, and so I thought it would be worth sharing our experience of a client that we have been working with for nearly 20 years who have embraced the idea of brand and service at the heart of their business. Their strategic offer has evolved over that time to meet the needs of the market and their offer has become ‘more than just fuel’.
We are now surrounded and saturated by brands, brands are everywhere and they are no-longer simply products on shelves. Brands have become places and experiences.
Even brands that were developed as products such as Apple see one of their key communication channels as the high street interacting with customers face to face.
In comparison to more mainstream retail outlets such as supermarkets e.g. Tesco or apparel retail such as Top Shop and Selfridges this idea of the ‘place’ as a brand is really in its formative stage in fuel retailing
in fact the filling station format has changed little since the 1960s.
Our client is based in Dubai and in some ways the development of their retail offer has followed the rapid
and incredible development of the Emirates as a leading global destination. Brand Dubai is truly cosmopolitan and has partly based its development on tapping into many varied cultures and offering the highest quality environments and experiences. Our clients’ brand does the same by offering a wide range of products and services that meets the needs of a diverse community.
EGPC Emirates General Petroleum Corporation was established by the Federal Government of UAE
in 1982 acquiring the assets of BP, Shell and Mobil in Dubai and the northern emirates. Like many oil companies in the early 80s it was purely commodity focused going forward the strategy was therefore to adopt a new way of doing business; Become a retailer first and foremost, with the customer and a service-oriented culture at the centre of the business.
The identity modernised the falcon symbol, a regional icon, and the name was shortened to become memorable and local. To some extent this was to be seen as a national brand, in the way that BA was to
the UK. In 1994 the EGPC branded retail outlets were very standard and of their time. They had little by the way of customer services other than fuel and the occasional carwash. The retail colours were those of the national flag as was the symbolism used.
Launched on 12th February 1996 the re-branded Emarat service station used a new fresher colour palette, that was seen as cooler in a hot and dry climate, a modernized retail design and overall the appearance was more welcoming offering a range of non-fuel offers. The benefits of the new brand were both tangible and intangible. The tangible benefits were demonstrated by increased sales figures, not just
on fuel, but also carwash, lubes and other associated vehicle services. Intangible benefits however were
just as important in supporting the brand position of ‘beyond fuel’ and a company focusing on customer service: modern environments, safe standards, clean WCs, better customer service were all important factors in differentiating the new Emarat offer.
In order to boost sales and create other reasons to visit Emarat sites, a new non-fuel retail strategy was adopted. The first significant component within the store created in 2001; Bakeria offers freshly baked product at a low cost from $1-10, an affordable price to suit the pocket from European to Bangladeshi there is a product to suit all tastes. Fresh product delivered: ‘What you want, when and where you want it’! We have just completed the 2020 update which has been developed as a modular solution and reduced build cost to suit a franchise offer in the Middle East and Asia.
The resulting sales figures were very positive and saw a 30% uplift in store sales on sites where Bakeria was introduced.
After 2 years of operating a Costa coffee franchise alongside Bakeria, Emarat decided to develop their own branded coffee offer which we branded as Café Arabicca building upon the long Arabic tradition of coffee drinking. Café Arabicca quickly took off, again good quality products at a reasonable price, coffee, shakes, juices, very much seen as a compliment to the Bakeria offer. Emarat have developed such a strong and credible range of non-fuel offers they are now extending the brands and leveraging their value by offering them as franchise packages. We have created a stand alone Café Arabicca café which will be rolled out in shopping malls and other non-fuel environments. Indeed this concept
is due to open in Scandinavia soon with its first European franchisee. Sales figures were impressive on launch with a 22% sales increase relative to Costa.
Based upon the success of the Emarat Plus c-store concept and expertise developed in-house in retailing and shop management Emarat decided to expand its brand portfolio and develop a standalone shop concept which we named FreshPlus. The offer was completely separated from fuel in spirit and location.
Freshplus is found in retail and business locations with only a passing reference to Emarat. Sales figures are difficult to compare with UK as for example coke sells for about 25p and cigarettes for a £1. Average shop turnover is around £7-10k per day however the offer is continuing to evolve by responding
to business needs of the market however the first sit in Media Towers Dubai enjoys around 1,800 customers per day.
Fasttrack offers a highly professional light vehicle repair service for cars that are out of manufacturers warrantee. Created as a joint venture between Emarat and a specialist automotive repair company World Automotive Group. Fasttrack has established a branded quality alternative for the relatively fast and simple services that make up a large part of the vehicle’s total service needs.
Sales average 700,000 dirhams per month through 10 sites in Dubai.
Circle is a brand and design consultancy that brings a fresh perspective to brands.
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