What is in for clients, government when fuel price is going up?
Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Vivo Energy, the company that distributes and markets Shell and Engen branded fuels and lubricants to retail and commercial customers in Africa has expanded its countrywide network by adding 16 new service stations.
This brings the total number of its stations in the country to 151. Its closed rival, Total, has around 171 service stations.
The expansion is part of the company’s strategy to make Shell fuels, lubricants and services more accessible and deliver ultra-convenience to motorists and shoppers across the country.
The announcement was made at the official opening of Shell Makindye, a new service station that features a KFC restaurant and Bosch Car Service centre.
The announcement comes at a time fuel consumers are still complaining about the high cost of fuels averaging Shs4000 – 4500 at most stations across the country.
However, Gilbert Assi, the managing director at Vivo Energy Uganda, said opening more new stations nearer to the customers is indirectly making it cheaper for them to access and buy.
“Making our product available and affordable to our customers is our everyday concern,” he told The Independent. “We are always watching international prices….carefully looking at how we price and remain very affordable even when international prices are very high,” he added.
Assi said the company’s ambition is to provide an exceptional retail experience at all its service stations, reaching more people with better products and services wherever they do business.
Some of the new service stations include Shell Kisoro, Shell Juba Road, Shell Katosi, Shell Masaka Highway, Shell Katungulu, Shell Janda, Shell Kabale Highway, Shell Bulindo, Shell Kiwatule, Shell Tula, Shell Buwama, Shell Mityana and Shell Makindye.
The new stations represent 8.6% growth in the Shell service station network across the country.
Officials said that the expansion drive is partly informed by the growth of Uganda’s economy and improvement in infrastructure which has opened up new roads and suburbs.
Assi said that the company had adopted a strategy to turn the Shell service stations into retail destinations, offering a wide range of services.
It has brought on board internationally renowned partners who offer complementary non-fuel services, including Bosch and KFC.
Shell Kira Road and Shell Makindye feature a Bosch Car Service outlet, an internationally renowned car workshop service offering expert automotive advice, repair and maintenance work with Bosch quality products, for all car makes and models, by technicians trained on the latest automotive technology.
“Research into consumer behavior indicates that our customers now seek more convenient solutions and want to do more in one place,” Assi said.
The company’s service stations also offers financial services (bank’s ATM machines) and space for mini-meetings for people.
The food service offering came into force in June this year, when Vivo Energy announced the formation of a 50:50 joint venture with Kuku Foods East Africa Holdings, the owner of KFC franchises in East Africa to accelerate the roll-out of KFC restaurants in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
The new service stations, together with the old ones, have created a total of 400 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs across the country since last year when construction started. In addition, the company employs a total of 130 staff at its head office.
Assi also said that the network expansion would result in increased tax remittances to the government as a result of sales growth.
In a media release, the company said it remitted taxes to the tune of Shs398.9billion in 2018/19, becoming the third largest taxpayer in the country.
Asked to reveal total investment made in the new stations, Assi told The Independent: “The investment is quite significant…I cannot disclose the amount as we speak now but we are really looking forward to continue to invest in Uganda. We are calling up every partner who wants to work with us to come and invest and expand our footprint.”
Going forward, Assi said that the company’s plan is to add more fuel stations in 2020 and beyond.
Hans Paulsen, the executive vice president for East and Southern Africa at Vivo Energy Group said with over 100 years of research in lubricants, they are better placed to offer excellent service that comes with value for money to their clients.
“Our aim is to remain number one. We shall do that by continuing to innovate on our products and services,” he said.
He said they do not want to be like any other fuel retailer but want to be unique which is why they are investing in bringing in products of high quality and partnering with reputable companies offering non-fuel services.
Vivo Energy Uganda, was established in February 2013 after acquiring majority stake in Shell Uganda. The Shell brand has been in Uganda since 1953. The Shell brand was maintained largely to enable Vivo to continue riding on it to grow. Vivo Energy Uganda has a fuels storage capacity of 17,500 m³. Many of its stations offer Shell fuel cards and other non-fuel services.
Vivo Energy Group operates and markets its products in countries across North, West, East and Southern Africa. The group has a network of over 2,100 service stations in 23 countries operating under the Shell and Engen brands and exports lubricants to a number of other African countries.