Senior director for retail sales and dealer operations at Topaz (Circle-K Ireland) Jonathan Diver looks back on a successful year for the brand and ahead to big changes and ambitious plans in 2018.
With over 420 sites throughout Ireland, including 260 operated by independent dealer partners, Topaz’s Jonathan Diver has seen many changes in the company since he joined 15 years ago.
He revealed that 2017 was an extremely busy and successful one for the company. “One of our most significant achievements was introducing miles, our additised fuel offer. We invested a lot of money in the brand across the whole network – including dealer and company owned sites. It represents a significant investment in our forecourts, in the product itself, and in our fuels messaging – as well as in our partner network as we are bringing international innovations in fuel to Irish soil.”
The investment in Topaz’ fuel offer continues and Jonathan added, “we recently introduced our premium fuel offer milesPlus which contains an even higher quantity of additives with motorists able to achieve more power and better efficiency. We have rolled this out in 20 plus sites nationwide and it has been a huge success so far.”
Another highlight of 2017 according to Jonathan included the opening of Topaz’ first franchise store in Carrigaline, Co. Cork. He explained, “this new franchise model offers partners attractive margins on fast moving convenience products, cost saving relationships with other major national suppliers and a strong discount and rebate programme negotiated with suppliers.”
Jonathan pointed out that it was also a good year for the convenience side of the business. “We had a strong year with our Grab & Go food offer performing well, and we will continue to innovate and offer the highest quality products to our customers. Coffee is a huge growth area, and we have just finished replacing the coffee machines at all of our company-owned sites as part of the introduction and rollout of our own coffee brand – Simply Great Coffee. We will continue to show the Irish consumer that forecourt coffee is of the highest quality.” However, the best as he says, is yet to come with the rebranding to Circle K.
Regarding the upcoming rebrand, Jonathan confirmed, “from April this year, we will begin to rebrand our forecourt canopies to Circle K and it will take an estimated 18 months to rebrand the entire network. It’s going to involve a significant investment and a huge consumer advertisement campaign that will support the change-over to ensure our customers know it’s the same quality offer on our forecourts. Jonathan added, “the consumer trust is already there and we see it continuing; however, such an investment is hugely important – for both our dealer partners and consumers and shows that we are still driven by the same organisational culture of service excellence.”
“This is a hugely exciting time for us as a business – particularly as our focus has always been on innovation and this excitement has spread to our dealer partners as we continue to roll out Circle K products and innovations across our Irish network.
Looking ahead to the coming year, Jonathan said, “we want to deliver on the Circle K motto of “let’s make it easy” – in terms of making it easy for our customers, suppliers, and dealer partners. With Circle K, we will continue to drive improvements and innovations to support our valued partners in a variety of areas – including logistics, administration, and sales to name but a few. These innovations, coupled with the consistency of our own high quality own-brand offering across fuel, food, coffee and car wash, ensures our dealer partners can offer customers access to the very best services and offerings when they visit one of our sites.”
Finally, he added, “we are very much learning from Circle K’s global business, adopting their best practices and combining them with our own high standards for the benefit of our dealer partners and, ultimately, Irish consumers. Our new owners are committed to the Irish market which is evident in their level of investment (miles, Simply Great Coffee, Car wash) which has significantly strengthened our position as the market leader in forecourt and convenience retail.”