The COVID-19 crisis is having a major impact on many of the businesses that Graham + Sibbald work with, not least those in the petroleum and roadside sector.
Our specialist team is reporting that many companies are seeing the volume of fuel they are selling drop significantly, which is not surprising given the significant drop in traffic flow during the lockdown period, in some cases by up to 80%. In addition, although many roadside businesses are saying that they are staying open, others will be forced to close up shop to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff. It is also becoming clear that some petrol stations will stay open to offer a ‘crisis’ service for key sectors and employees, such as those in the NHS.
At G+S we are continuing to support all of our petroleum and roadside clients and have taken a ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach to our work. We are here to offer focused advice and to help our clients weather the storm. For example, we can help with financial advice on issues such as ratings and finding new sources of lending.
Specifically, we think that now may be a sensible time to get specialist advice on your business, such as getting your business valued, or looking at a potential disposal strategy, since this will be done for a time period in which trade has been strong.
We believe that there is no need, at present, for clients to close down any on-going negotiations and, in fact, we are moving forward proactively (using remote working) on a number of acquisitions and disposals across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Indeed, we see the next few weeks and months as a window for businesses to look for opportunities to add value to their roadside assets and to future-proof their sites. We are on hand (at the end of the phone and via the internet) to offer advice and support in these areas. Three obvious areas for investigation are:
- Electric charging points: Assess the size of your site and its potential for electric charge points. Also evaluate the demand for this type of service locally. We know that there are a number of suppliers of this technology that are actively looking for new locations for their tech.
- New food outlets: Look through your portfolio to see if any sites might be able to accommodate food or coffee outlets, such as drive-throughs for food and beverage providers. We have links to many brand-name providers and know that their business development teams are looking for new avenues to explore.
- Advertising: Although advertisers will be pulling in their horns in the immediate future, it is well worth spending the next few weeks investigating if any of your sites could host an advertising hoarding. This is an excellent way to generate a sustainable income stream for minimal outlay. We can talk you through the practicalities of this and advise on planning issues etc.
For more information and to see how G+S can assist your petroleum and roadside business at this challenging time contact:
Stephanie Walker (Associate, Petroleum and Commercial Roadside)