In this series, C&I investigates the future of roadside retailers and their ability to survive and thrive in an ever-changing environment.

Over the next few weeks, C&I will speak with leaders in the field about how they see the petrol and convenience industry adapting to the changes in the way Australians are using the channel.

This week we speak with Skye Jackson, General Manager Merchandise at Ampol.

C&I: What changes have you noticed in roadside retail over the past 12 months?

Jackson: The extended lockdowns over the past few months has been particularly challenging for roadside retail, with less foot traffic in store. However, we have seen strong growth in our online delivery offer, which has been maintained post-lockdown as Australians transition to hybrid working and the post-COVID way of life.

C&I: What categories are driving growth in-store at Ampol?

Jackson: Late last year, following the conclusion of lockdowns across various states, we had a glimpse into what the post-COVID-19 recovery will look like in our stores. Beverages performed very well over the summer, with energy and water being the key subcategories that drove significant growth.

Take-home ice cream grew significantly and was buoyed by Uber sales. Chilled perishables also saw significant growth, with ready meals, sandwiches and our new chilled snacking segments all performing well throughout the summer.

C&I: How has Ampol adapted it’s in-store offer over the past few years?

Jackson: We’ve invested significantly in our new formats and on executing our established format strategy. Ampol Woolworths Metro, has all the essentials you would expect from our stores, with the addition of further food-for-later and grocery top-up products. Ampol Foodary, really focuses on the core everyday essentials that Australians need to keep moving.

C&I: What changes to roadside retailers do you expect to see in the future?

Jackson: There is a lot of change coming, and I don’t think there is going to be a singular version of what service stations will look like. Much like our approach to finding the right location for an Ampol Woolworths Metro store or a Foodary, the future will see many different format executions for roadside retailers. Some locations will suit a broader retail offer, with a focus on grocery and top-up shopping, and others will be more likely to facilitate a broader food service offer.

C&I: Have you noticed any emerging trends within the industry?

Jackson: The focus on sustainability is definitely becoming more prominent. Whether it be a focus on packaging or sourcing raw materials, customers are a lot more conscious of their purchasing decisions and have a greater desire to understand these elements.

C&I: Do you have any examples of how Ampol has adapted or will adapt its offer to cater to the introduction of electric vehicles?

Jackson: In 2021, Ampol announced a partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for the roll out of more than 200 electric vehicle fast charging bays to more than 100 Ampol sites across Australia. We’re putting plans in place for the roll out, including selecting locations, and will be able to update consumers in the coming months.

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