Fleet News

Fill-up closures add to fuel woes

THE number of fuel stations in the UK dropped again last year, exacerbating the problem of drivers wasting fuel on forecourt searches, it is claimed.

Research suggests that the number of British forecourts dropped by 6.3% in 2005, down 663 to a total of 9,812.

The figures mark the fifth straight year of network reduction since 2001, when 12,305 forecourts were in operation.

In that four-year period, the UK network capacity has reduced by more than 20%.

The trend for fewer fuel forecourts is the result of consolidation of fuel networks, according to fuel card supplier Arval, which produced the figures.

In recent years, oil companies have reduced their networks to make efficiencies in distribution and management costs at each forecourt. Arval says the trend is creating a challenge for business drivers, particularly for those using a restricted fuel network.

Drivers are faced with a choice of either using their own cash to refuel or using more fuel as they search for the correct brand.

Arval’s research suggests that forecourt searches can utilise up to 350 hours of work time every year for a fleet of 100 drivers.

Mike Waters, Arval’s head of market analysis, said: ‘Supermarket sites are on the increase but this move is being outstripped by the closure of oil company sites.

‘These figures further highlight the need for drivers to make fuel a planned rather than a distress purchase in order to avoid filling up at expensive forecourts out of necessity.

‘The closures also highlight the need for those with fuel cards to have access to as wide a network as possible, not only ensuring fuel availability but also providing access to lower price providers.’

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