Major fuel players growing amid intensifying competition

Despite showing signs of a rebound in the first two months of the year, the gasoline market has struck negative territory, a development that is intensifying competition and prompting traders to revise their strategies.

Approximately 23.5 percent of the Greek market’s petrol stations have gone out of business during the country’s prolonged recession, now into its seventh year. In this time, the number of outlets has been reduced to less than 6,500, from roughly 8,500.

Amid this cut-throat environment, bigger players, especially those directly controlled by the ELPE and Motor Oil Hellas refineries, are increasing their market shares and adding new outlets to their chains in an effort to maintain sales at high levels.

Enterprises that control approximately 50 percent of the retail fuel market have managed to make further gains.

Following up on its takeover of Cyclon, a move that boosted its retail network by roughly 200 petrol stations, the Motor Oil Hellas group recently also acquired the Revoil storage facilities in Kavala to acquire an additional base in northern Greece. Over the past few years, Motor Oil Hellas has moved to increase its retail network, especially those operated by Coral and Avin, the refinery’s two main retail subsidiaries.

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which controls Greece’s EKO and BP retail networks, the market leader and follower, respectively, is taking similar action. The leadership at the refinery’s sales division recently noted the group plans to bolster its presence in areas of high tourism growth.

Besides increasing their retail networks, the two refineries are also employing other means to increase fuel sales. As part of its partnership with the supermarket chain Alfa-Vita Vassilopoulos (AB), Coral, another retail arm controlled by Motor Oil, has increased its number of petrol stations combining mini markets.

Further market changes are expected following Jetoil’s bankruptcy last year. Russia’s Centracore has expressed an interest to acquire the company’s storage facilities in Thessaloniki. Motor Oil Hellas and ELPE are also eyeing these facilities as a springboard for further growth in northern Greece and neighboring Balkan countries.

EKO is the retail fuel market leader with a 14.50 percent share. It is followed by BP (12.7%), Shell (11.7%), Elinoil (9%), Revoil (8.6%), Aegean (8.1%). Avin (7.5%), Eteka (3.9%), Silk Oil (3.7%) and Cyclon (3.2%).