BP Connects with Food and Fuel

Discussion
May 15, 2002
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According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, BP’s self-stamped “gas
station of the future,” BP Connect, emphasizes things other than its popular
Amoco gasoline. BP’s effort comes at a time when gasoline stores are facing
increasing competition from supermarkets, mass merchandisers and club stores
offering low-price gasoline to attract consumers.

“BP has decided that they have to be the neighborhood store that people go to — and be an alternative to Wendy’s,” says Paul Weitzel vice president of Barrington-based Willard Bishop Consulting Ltd., a consultant on the consumer package and food service industries. “In effect, BP is saying: `We’ve got to be more than just the place with the right price for gasoline, cigarettes and milk.'”

BP has cut the number of old Amoco stations in the Chicago area by one-fifth, from 450 stations to about 350 stations, 125 of which already have been revamped. About 40 of these have been turned into state-of-the-art BP Connect stations that feature the Wild Bean Cafe, which is something across between Starbucks, and Au Bon Pain, BP’s consultant on menu development, product sourcing and equipment design for the cafes. By the end of 2002, BP intends to have 65 such stations in the Chicago area, with at least five sites planned for the city of Chicago. BP says it is investing $25 million in new Chicago sites and creating 300 jobs.

Moderator Comment: Is the traditional convenience
store model becoming obsolete?

The c-store business has been about selling Marlboro
and Coke for many years. That model is rapidly changing along with consumer
shopping behavior and lifestage/style trends.

Given the choice between shopping at a BP Connect or
the local Krauzer’s, we’d be saying, “Fill it up with the regular please.” (In
NJ we don’t pump our own gas and it is still cheaper than in surrounding states.
That’s another topic.) [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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