Major Sale

BP puts more than 700 company stores on block, exits c-store ownership

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Content Development Coordinator

NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- In a move that would put more than 700 BP retail outlets on the market, the Houston-based major oil company announced the sale of all of its company-owned, company-operated locations, turning most of the sites over to franchisees, although dealers and distributors will be included in the mix.

The sale, which is expected to conclude in two years, will not mean the oil company is leaving the retail sector, a spokesperson told CSP Daily News, noting that the sites will retain the BP brand in the eastern United States and the ARCO brand [image-nocss] in the West.

About 95% of BP's retail sites are already operated by independent business people, said Valerie Corr, press officer, U.S. downstream and retail marketing for BP America Inc. We look at it as a growth strategy, she said.

In a statement, Fiona MacLeod, president of BP U.S. convenience retail, said, By tapping into the entrepreneurial experience and knowledge of local station owners, we will build a strong franchise network that will help us grow our business.

BP will support franchisees with a field-based staff and a head office located in La Palma, Calif. The U.S. convenience retail office in Naperville, Ill., will close. As announced last month, BP will move to a single, franchised c-store brandampmin the Unites States.

The ampm brand has a 30-year track record in the western U.S. and has seen very positive results east of the Rockies based on the value that franchisees bring to the business. The brand has a 94% brand awareness rating west of the Rockies, and a strong international presence in Japan, Brazil and Mexico. We are excited about growing the brand in the eastern U.S., said MacLeod.

The company said that these changes are in line with its October reorganization announcement aimed at simplifying the company and improving performance. Of BP's 13,000 U.S. retail sites, this sale of more than 700 company-owned and -operated c-stores will eliminate 9,500 BP positions and 350 business support staff. About 100 employees from BP's pipelines and logistics unit will also be affected.

We know that these changes will be very difficult for our employees, and we are putting measures in place to assist affected business-support staff, including job-placement assistance, said MacLeod. It's been our experience that the majority of convenience-store employees are retained by the new owners.

MacLeod emphasized that convenience retail is a key BP business that positively represents the BP brand, has a strong franchise base and has a legacy of operational excellence. This business and the people in it have created a culture of excellence that will be the backbone of our organization going forward.

As reported in a CSP Daily News Flash yesterday, 446 of the BP sites are on the auction block now. These included 282 BP-branded stations with ampm franchises in Georgia (56), Illinois (83), Indiana (40), Ohio (89), Pennsylvania (13) and Wisconsin (1); 164 ARCO stations with ampm stores in Arizona (2), California (110), Oregon (11) and Washington (41); as well as a total of 59 commercial sites in Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

The sale of 446 sites will be handled by NRC Realty Advisors LLC, Chicago, which specializes in the sale of North American commercial real estate property and has handled transactions for Shell, Sunoco and White Hen, as well as GE Capital, Bank One, Wachovia, Kmart and closely held distributorships and independent retailers.

Information on BP franchising is available by visiting www.bpampmfranchising.com.

By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Content Development Coordinator
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