Future of Convenience

Lesen Sie hier den Expertenbeitrag von Dan Munford, Managing Director, Insight Research

Dan ist ein anerkannter internationaler Convenience Retail Experte. Er präsentiert regelmäßig auf internationalen Konferenzen und ist Referent auf der aktuellen Handelsblatt Jahrestagung.

In diesem Video interviewt Dan, Emmet O'Neill, den Topaz Ireland CEO. In diesem Interview erfahren Sie aus erster Hand die neue Topaz Re.Store Retail Strategie.


Insight managing director, Dan Munford, talks to Topaz CEO Emmet O'Neill at the company's Dealers' Summit about the expanding Irish forecourt business.

Topaz is well underway in terms of significant investment and rebrand of Re.Store in the Irish market, O'Neill reports. The company launched the programme in December 2014 and 82 sites have been rebranded to date.O'Neill said he expected a balance of 30 to be completed by 1 December 2015. It represents a €20m investment. Half of it is catch up and half is new concepts, he says; and the early results are very encouraging. Winner of the NACS Insight International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award in 2015, Topaz is on a roll.

O'Neill said the company entered into the Award with low expectations but there was a growing momentum behind the business and the company was "blown away" by its competition success.

The osmosis effect it had throughout the group was fantastic, he adds; and gives the business a lot of confidence going forward. Munford questions O'Neill on the Summit presentations, which included the advice to "forget everything you know about forecourt retailing". According to O'Neill, Topaz approaches the business as being a retailer first and foremost, unlike the traditional oil operators.

Topaz is looking at its real estate and figuring out how it can sell more, he explains. There are limitations on what it can sell from the 'box', so Topaz is looking at dropping in new boxes such as a Mexican canteen, which is being introduced into six sites at the moment. Topaz is also looking at bike shops and pharmacy to give customers further reasons to visit its locations – not just fuel.

It's trying to flip it on its head and maximise the use of prime retail land, reports O'Neill.

Munford asks about the Topaz culture. O'Neill says he has a very passionate team behind him. The stars were aligned when he joined the business, he says, and everyone is pushing forward to provide the best quality service and best quality product. In terms of foodservice, O'Neill says he admires Pret a Manger. He's also impressed with ideas from the US such as Shake Shack, which is not healthy but fresh. "If you are going to be bad, be bad in style," he suggests.

Rocket's, Topaz's new diner format, is similar in this respect, says O'Neill. "The beauty of my job is thinking about what I and the wider team would buy," he says. O'Neill and Munford discuss customer needs. The Topaz boss doesn't believe customer needs have changed but they are more aware and understand that they can choose and eat healthy options on the go. Customers will vote with their feet and if you are not providing the right product, they will not come back, says O'Neill.

In terms of coffee, Re.Store coffee has been introduced as an own brand offer and has driven a 30% increase in coffee sales. It ranges from quality self serve coffee machines to a full barista offer in some sites. O'Neill said he had never drunk a cup of Topaz coffee before he joined the business a year ago because the brand was associated with fuel and that's not something he would want to put in his mouth. Re.Store provides an opportunity to extend the brand's reach, Munford suggests, and possibly onto the high street. However, O'Neill isn't certain that's a route Topaz will take to growth as there any so many other options available. The company has just bought 100 Esso Ireland stores, which will be rebranded to Re.Store. America is another attractive market for the business and one which the company is assessing very deeply at the moment, O'Neill reveals.

Munford asks what the attraction is. According to O'Neill the fuel margins are good and there's huge room for consolidation, which creates opportunity. "There's massive room for growth," he says.

Fast casual dining creates potential too, says O'Neill. Big players are leaving plenty of space beneath them for smaller players like Topaz to "mop up", he says. That's encouraged the development of Rocket's, for example. Being nimble and able to adjust in five years is key, O'Neill asserts. You need to keep pushing forward and exploring new avenues. O'Neill likens it to playing battleships – putting your boat on and seeing if you get a hit, and then moving on.

On a personal level, O'Neill says his role is challenging. The key is building the team, both retaining and recruiting new staff members. Creating trust is also vital, he adds. „It's a great opportunity – you just have to go for it," he concludes.

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