Listed as an overarching strategic focus, Sasol’s Retail division forms an integral part of the Sasol Groups’ investment strategy. Sasol retail and corporate affairs VP Mohamed Carrim says the organisation aims to substantially grow its market share in the foreseeable future as it hopes to expand its retail footprint primarily across South Africa.
“With its strong South African heritage brand, in 2004, Sasol boldly entered the downstream retail fuel business. The company made a strategic decision to enter the retail downstream market through Sasol-branded forecourts instead of selling fuel to only wholesalers or commercial industries.
“Initially, Sasol had the restriction of its blue pump agreement. This entailed having a Sasol fuel pump on competitor-branded forecourts. Once approved by government, Sasol was able to retail its own Sasol forecourts in 2004, with 100 Exel service stations converted to the Sasol brand in just six months,” Carrim states.
He adds that to begin with, Sasol’s goal was to have a 10% market share within a respectable timeframe of ten to 15 years and this milestone was successfully achieved, with Sasol currently enjoying a market share of above 10%.
“Considering the saturation and proliferation of the fuel retail market at the time, this is a fairly impressive figure,” Carrim points out.
In terms of the company’s current retail footprint, Sasol has 409 Sasol Convenience Centres (SCC) nationally. Each Sasol-branded convenience centre consists of three primary business hubs namely a forecourt, a convenience store, and a bakery. Sasol has a multi-dimensional property strategy that includes a strong, dedicated team of internal and external developers who relentlessly search for new opportunities to develop and expand the company’s retail network. Every year, Sasol adds a number of service stations into its expanding portfolio. These comprise conversions from the other oil majors as well as a few greenfield developments.
The SCCs are at the forefront of representing the Sasol brand, and at this stage there is no exclusive collaboration with any specific retail partner in terms of the convenience stores.
“While we are not exclusively partnering with anyone currently in terms of a consumer value proposition, the Sasol retail team does take into consideration the regional retail landscape and area segmentation and concludes on an offer that appeals to the consumer. In turn, Sasol will provide the greatest value for the franchise owner.
“Sasol applies a business format franchise policy to ensure that it not only implements a thorough recruitment process and structure, but also emphasises that the SCCs are owner-operated. In addition, there is continuous engagement and collaboration between franchisee and franchisor,” adds Carrim.
The Sasol retail team continues with vigour and passion to expand the company’s retail footprint.