Experienced fuel retailer Norman Foley tells IF&CR about joining the Inver brand, and the exciting plans the company has to grab hold of the forecourt sector in a big way
Norman Foley has built-up his Co Kerry forecourt and convenience business over the past 12 years, and after joining Inver’s relatively new forecourt fascia he says business is now booming.
Inver has been at the centre of the Irish fuels industry for over 30 years, supplying some of the biggest companies in the country. A direct fuel supplier, the Irish-owned firm has a state-of-the-art joint venture terminal located in Foynes, Co Limerick. At 82,00m2 it is the largest and most advanced terminal in Ireland.
The size and location of the terminal, and the company’s Cork-based sales and support team, has helped Inver become one of the country’s most popular fuel suppliers to a varied fuel market.
Three years ago, Inver took its first steps into the forecourt sector, opening around 25 sites – three of which are owned by Nigel Foley. Those tentative steps are soon to become major strides, with two futuristic flagship forecourts ready to be unfurled in Co Limerick before mid-2016.
“I was the first retailer in the country to team up with Inver at my site in Tralee,” said Norman, who operates Spar convenience stores at his three forecourts in Tralee, Killarney, and Killorglin. He is preparing to open his fourth Inver branded forecourt in Nenagh Tipperary, while also continuing to extend his Spar franchise.
Norman said he believed the number of Inver sites in Ireland was set to double over the next 12 to 18 months, and that the new Limerick forecourts could turn Inver into a major player in the market.
“There are two state-of-the-art sites planned for Limerick, with the first opening in Punches Cross before the end of this year, and the next opening in early 2016,” Norman said. “Architecturally, they are going to be very advanced and the designs are hyper-modern, featuring a lot of glass, bright lighting, and offering a safe environment for the optimum customer experience. Visually they will be stunning, and very welcoming.”
Norman said he has been working with Inver for many years as both a fuel customer and dealer site operator, and that the company has built warm working relationships with many of the country’s dealers as a key fuel supplier.
“As Inver are direct suppliers, my price is always very competitive,” Norman said. “It also means I have full fuel traceability, as it comes directly from the refineries, through Inver, to me. Fuel quality is a mainstay of the Inver brand, while its Rosette Programme consistently maintains the quality of its fuels to the highest standards.
“Other significant advantages are that I can get deliveries that day – full or half loads as required.”
Norman explained this flexibility means he can match his deliveries with the daily updated prices to maximise his margins, lessening the chance of sitting on expensive fuel in the tanks while prices were cheap.
“Since joining Inver, I’ve increased both my margins and my volumes,” he said. “As my fuel prices are so competitive, I’m driving more footfall into my Spar shops, and that is all adding to my turnover.”
The extra cash flow has helped him grow his business faster than ever, and with his fourth outlet about to open, Norman is looking forward to working with Inver long into the future.
“It’s a relatively new retail brand to the market, and it can take a while for brand recognition to kick-in, but Inver has an excellent reputation and a lot of experience and knowledge in the Irish fuels market,” Norman said. “It has the added advantage of being a large Irish company that is prepared to invest time and money into the forecourt sector, and it’s sure to take a major step this year.”