THERE are hopes a new independent player in the local petrol scene will drive competition and put downward pressure on prices.
Independent petrol station company APCO has been given the tick of approval by Wagga City Council for a service centre with food premises on Hammond Avenue next to the BIG4 Holiday Park.
This will be the 11th service station close to Sturt Highway within about eight kilometres and the new owner at the BIG4 Holiday Park, Lee Cotterell, questioned its need.
“We’ve only been in the town for virtually six weeks as we took over this business on August 30 and this was one of the issues that hit us first off and we didn’t know about this until we took over,” Mrs Cotterell said.
“We’ve done a little bit of research and from what we’re finding is that this might not be something that the town really needs.
“We hope it doesn’t impact the town too much and we do worry about the impact from the Marshall Creek Bridge here from a double into a single lane, then back into double and we hope that is not going to be an issue.”
Despite concerns, the new owner remained hopeful that the holiday park will benefit from a new service station.
“However, we do think that it might be beneficial to our business as a place for quick service of milk and other retail items,” she said.
Bringing the number of petrol stations in Wagga to about 19 the city will receive its first APCO and is estimated to cost $3.5 million.
Independent property valuer Chris Egan welcomed the new petrol station but hoped that the service station will ascertain safe access and exits.
“I think this is a really good thing for Wagga and there is a truck stop further to the east and I just hope that trailers can get off the road easily to avoid a backlog of cars,” Mr Egan said.
Mr Egan said that service stations need access to the highway for viability and volume of cars, revealing why there are zero service stations around growth areas like Estella and Bourkelands.
“There’s been a lot of public demand to get one out at Bomen, but it comes down to the number of cars that pass through per day,” he said.
“But, the retail sector makes up a huge part of their income and services beyond the petrol, like gas bottles and firewood.”
According to the development application, the Hammond Avenue location has a highway exposure of about 20,000 cars per day.
However, Mr Egan said the possible heavy vehicle bypass could threaten petrol station business in the future.
“I think a few of the service stations could be left high and dry when and if Wagga gets a bypass,” he said. “The more competitors in the market, the more competitive the price should be for the public.”
While Rebecca Page, an NRMA spokesperson, thought positively towards the new petrol station, she said overseas factors dictate petrol prices.
“I think this addition is great news and it will encourage competition which is typically a good thing for motorists,” Ms Page said.
“Unfortunately no one in Australia is getting a petrol price deal, the national average in Australia is the highest in four years and for diesel, it’s the highest in 10 years.
“There’s a variety of factors impacting why and it mainly the high global and oil prices and the weaker Australian dollar, which means petrol prices are soaring and there’s no immediate release in site.”
Looking into the average petrol price on October 16, Wagga was sitting at 159.2 cents a litre, which Ms Page said was a “really high price” resting in the middle of the state average.
“Competition does usually bring prices down and we do see when we have a high concentration of petrol stations in one area, they usually follow suit and offer healthy competition,” she said.
Director and shareholder of APCO Peter Anderson said bringing in another independent service station into Wagga will offer cheaper prices for motorists.
“I’ve been looking to find a site in Wagga since 2000 and we see a great opportunity here because no places offer what we do,” Mr Anderson said.
“We offer fresh food, sandwiches, barista coffee, a sit down area for travelers, competitively priced fuel and 24-hour operation.
Mr Anderson said he was not concerned by the potential bypass in Wagga.
“I’m not worried at all, I’ve built in Albury when the bypass was being built on the highway and I think Wagga will really benefit from a heavy vehicle bypass,” he said.
“It will revitalise the road and businesses, you only have to look at towns like Wangaratta, Benalla and Eurora to see that the shops are much more vibrant because of the bypass.”
The APCO petrol station will bring the number of service centres in Wagga to about 19 and is estimated to cost $3.5 million.
After lodging the application for development early this year in February, APCO’s director Peter Anderson said he is “excited” to finally enter into Wagga after 18 years.
“Our service station in Albury has been steady over the years and always been cheaper because of the competition,” he said.
“It’s very exciting and it’s been a long hard road, but very satisfying.”
Extracted from Daily Advertiser