The Australian petrol-convenience industry is facing a period of unprecedented change. New vehicle technologies, petro-politics and seismic changes in the national retail market over the past 12 months, suggest that strong leadership and good strategy will be vital to the future financial success of petrol-convenience businesses in Australian and New Zealand.

While many business owners are rightly focussed on building a convenience offering into their market offerings, the mixed performance of fuel businesses in this area raises key questions about the quality of the overall business strategies that are being pursued – and the degree to which this particular strategy accommodates the risk posed by some of the bigger changes occurring in the wider marketplace.

“The focus on coffee and prepared food is essential but that is an action for today”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie

“There are bigger challenges looming with respect to national political leadership, the changing nature of work, changing vehicle technologies, changing consumer behaviours and the rise of the digital economy”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“Just expanding what we sell from a retail site while the world is changing beyond our site boundary is a classic case of ‘not seeing the forest for the trees’ – and so the focus of the 2019 event is to continue talking about the importance of the trees”, added Mark.

The Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum has developed a reputation for promoting whole-of-industry discussion on these important issues, with a view to providing the insights fuel retail businesses need to survive today and prepare for tomorrow.

Within this context, the APFI Forum 2019 will advance the theme “Leadership and Policy”. To be held at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre on 17 & 18 September 2019, the importance of this Forum cannot be overstated given the significant changes that have occurred in the fuel retail market over the past 12 months.

The discussion on leadership will be kicked off by the Hon. Peter Costello AC, former Federal Treasurer in the Howard Government between 1996 and 2008. Mr Costello is Australia’s longest serving Treasurer and was appointed Chairman of the Independent Advisory Board of the World Back and is a member of the Board of Guardians of Australia’s Future Fund.

“Not one to be backward in coming forward, Mr Costello will provide a frank assessment of the current state of political and policy leadership in Australia within the context of what it might mean for large industries such as our own”, said Mark

Mr Costello will be joined by several senior speakers who are demonstrating business and industry leadership in key areas of business and societal change.

The Group Commercial Director of EG Group, Ilyas Munshi, will travel out from the UK to tell the Euro Garages story as the company commences operations in Australia.

“Having grown to the point of operating 8700 sites and employing 30,000 staff across three continents in a short period of time, the EG story provides a fascinating insight into the changing nature of the businesses that are operating in our industry”, said Mark

A presentation will also be provided by Gavin Gomes (Director, Canon Business Services) about the substantial work that Canon has recently completed to better understand the changing nature of work – and what this might mean for employment in the future.

Essentially, the agenda has been expanded beyond petroleum issues to incorporate a rich discussion about convenience strategy (as opposed to products).

Ian Thompson (Managing Director of Kalibrate’s Market Intelligence and Planning Division) will discuss how data can be used to inform convenience strategy. This presentation will provide benchmark comparisons between countries in the Asia-Pacific Region – and explain how these insights can be harnessed to develop market differentiation within individual markets.

Conference delegates will also receive the regular presentations about legislative and policy developments – a hallmark of past events.

The Trade Hall has been expanded to incorporate exhibits from providers of business services focussed on the convenience side of the business, in line with the expanded focus on petrol AND convenience.

“Our Trade Hall proposition is simple – we provide a conference agenda that is rich in content to attract business owners, principals and senior executives. This provides an opportunity for quality access for service providers participating in the trade hall market”, said Mark.

One of the highlights will be the Petroleum Contractors Forum. This year, delegates will be engaged in a discussion about the roll-out of national training standards (and industry credentialing) for petroleum contractors.

“I am particularly excited about the Petroleum Contractors Forum as it will provide the opportunity to discuss the roll-out of nearly four years of work on the development of national skill standards for petroleum contractors working in our industry”, said Mark

“With the greenlight for the development of these standards recently provided by the Australian Industry Skills Council, we will have more to say on this work in coming weeks”, added Mark

But, as those who have attended past APFI Forums will know, the event is not all hard work.

“The conference sessions can be taxing which is why we make a special effort with the conference dinner to create an event that is unique”, said Mark

Last year’s event staged in the spectacular aviation hall of New Zealand’s Museum of Transport and Technology. This year, the Forum dinner will be held at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – right in the middle of AFL Grand Final week!

“We are keeping the rest of the dinner details under wraps until the night of the dinner, but it promises to be bigger and better than last year”, said Mark

In short, the annual APFIF event has developed a reputation for providing delegates with an ‘information dividend’. That is, information that they can’t easily get elsewhere but can be practically used to strengthen their business.

Those wishing to stay in touch with event preparations and register their interest to attend can sign up to the Forum newsletter by visiting www.apfiforum.com.

Information about sponsorship and exhibition packages can be obtained by emailing Sarah Haughey (ACAPMA Marketing and Events Manager) via sarahh@acapma.com.au or calling the ACAPMA Secretariat on 1300 160 270.