ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie attended the 2019 National Association of Convenience
Stores (NACS) Show in Atlanta. This internationally significant event typically
attracts around 25,000 people with industry representatives from more than 70
Prior to the
formal opening of the NACS Show on 1 October 2019, ACAPMA was invited to
participate in NACS Global Government Affairs Council. Chaired by NACS
President and CEO, Dr Henry Armour, the principal purpose of this Council is to
discuss the key issues impacting the petrol convenience industry and share
perspectives on the approaches taken by different economies in addressing these
issues – many of which are global issues.
“It was a
real privilege for ACAPMA to be invited to participate in this Council – it
provides an invaluable forum to caucus globally significant issues within the
petrol convenience industry and share different perspectives on how these
issues can be addressed effectively”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.
considerable interest in Australia’s recent challenges with wage underpayment as
well as deep interest in possible legislative and regulatory responses to the
Australian Government’s Inquiry into franchising practices”, said Mark
during the meeting largely centred around three key themes. The first of these issues
related to the growing challenges associated with the attraction and retention
of a skilled workforce – one that was not only capable of supporting current
business models but also agile enough to support the industry as it grappled
with the ever changing face of convenience retailing.
theme featured prominently in the subsequent Education Sessions that were
delivered during the course of the Show. One of the keynote speakers, Mr Jim
Knight of Hard Rock Café fame (see https://www.knightspeaker.com/), suggested that the attraction
and retention of highly skilled staff in our industry was crucial to the future
economic success of the petrol convenience industry in the face of digital and
of ‘Service trumps everything’ (i.e. product, price, technology and
physical enhancement of premises) was a salutary message in the face of the Council’s
discussion that attracting and retaining quality people was perhaps the
greatest challenge for the global petrol convenience industry – not just
Australia”, said Mark.
theme related to factors affecting destruction of fuel demand with individual
economies sharing different messages about the impact of growing numbers of new
fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles on observed fuel demand within
interesting point in this conversation is that the factors relating to demand
destruction were not simply about changes in vehicle technology. The growth of
the share economy – particularly amongst millennials – was also a significant
talking point given that there is a whole generation coming through where car
ownership is not considered essential.
are discarding cars in favour of car sharing or e-scooters as a means of
getting around and this factor appears to be having a far greater affect on
fuel demand than electric vehicles at the moment”, said Mark
theme was also the subject of a keynote address during the 2019 NACS Show.
Jacob Schram (CEO of Circle K) pointed to the fact that there were actually four
forces threatening the nature of the traditional fuel business which he
promoted in a model called ACES– namely: ‘A’ for Autonomous vehicles, ‘C’ for Connected
vehicles, ‘E’ for Electrification and ‘S’ for Shared mobility.
presentation suggested that we must focus on all four factors impacting our
industry – many of which are creating new business opportunities – as opposed
to simply watching the developments of electric vehicles”, said Mark
A key message from Jacob’s work is that EV’s are appearing in significant numbers in the global market, but that the rate of market adoption varies dramatically between individual countries. Countries like Norway, where the national government introduced strong incentives for EV adoption 5 years ago, are projected to see 100% of new car sales being EV’s by 2025.
But Norway is
the exception to the rule with market adoption of EV’s in the larger economies expected
to vary markedly through to 2030. China is very much in the lead in this area with a predicted adoption rate of 25% to 50% of
new car sales by 2030, followed by the European Union (30% to 40%) and the
United States (15% to 30%).
doesn’t figure in current projections, but our inherent exposure to the new
vehicle industry within these three economies means that we need to watch this
agenda and adapt accordingly”, said Mark
The third theme
was one introduced by NACS President Henry Armour that related to the North
American industry experience. This theme centered around the simple proposition
that our industry was not good at telling its’ own story – telling policymakers
and the wider national community about the very positive role that the petrol
convenience industry plays in meeting the everyday fuel and convenience needs
of the local communities that we serve.
the point that if we, as international industry associations, don’t tell the
story of our industry then no-one will hear it as no other stakeholder is in a
position to tell such a story credibly”, said Mark
While all the
country delegates in attendance talked about the negative perceptions of our
respective national industries within government, Henry (and the Canadian
delegate Michael Hamoud) highlighted the success that they have collectively
had by promoting simple stories about what the many local businesses do for
their communities on a daily basis.
Some of this discussion
related to large state-wide campaigns where politicians were invited to spend
the day in a C-store and donate their wages to charity. Others were simply
promoting stories via social media about how their members are engaged in their
community on a daily basis.
“This is not
about sugar coating what we do, but simply communicating how the petrol
convenience industry quietly goes about its business serving the fuel and
convenience needs of local communities”, said Mark.
theme was quite instructional and is something that ACAPMA is going to have a
much closer look at because, at least in this country, the good work that our
industry does in local communities around the country is often drowned out by
negative commentary – some which is justified and some which is not:, said Mark.
in the NACS Global Government Affairs Council was invaluable”, added Mark
“Not only did
we get an opportunity to share a perspective on the issues impacting our
industry but we gained first-hand knowledge about how other economies are
addressing the very same issues we are facing” , said Mark
in the NACS Global Government Affairs Council will continue as part of our
increasing focus on all of the issues affecting petrol-convenience businesses
in Australia – both the fuel and
non-fuel related aspects of these businesses”, concluded Mark