Q&A: Paul Davies, Fuelcard sales manager
Following the launch of Applegreen’s new fuel cards in the UK, Paul Davies, Fuelcard sales manager – UK, tells Natalie Middleton about how the company’s new offering will stand out.
How is your fuel card offering structured?
We have our Applegreen Fuelcard, which officially launched in January and covers the UK and Ireland (northern and southern) via our own network of more than 280 sites. We also have our Applegreen Fuelcard PLUS, which went live in July. This is accepted in the UK and Northern Ireland and also includes Tesco and Morrisons forecourts, giving access to more than 1,100 forecourts in the UK.
How do the cards work?
We have no card fees whatsoever. I know some fuel card resellers charge for cards or charge after the first year but we have no charges at all. There are no network or transactions fees either; we like to give the customer peace of mind that they are only paying for the fuel they use at a competitive price.
How do you still offer a high level of services without any card, admin or transaction fees?
The thing that makes us different to the rest of the market is that we’re not a reseller. The big resellers pay a network premium to the oil companies to use their network which they have to pass this onto the customer whereas we’re not a fuel card company; we own forecourts so can cut out the ‘middleman’. As we own the network we’re in control of our service and pricing. We’re finding that’s a key consideration for fleets at a time when there’s concerns over escalating pricing from resellers.
What cost savings do you offer?
One of the key USPs of our forecourt network is ‘low fuel prices, always’ and that applies to our fuel cards too. For our own sites, whether it’s on the PLUS card or the standard Fuelcard, you’re looking at a saving of 5p per litre against the national average forecourt price and up to 10p against expense trunk road and motorways service areas.
What other benefits do you offer?
The cards can be restricted to fuel only or we can add in lubricants and car wash. We have full VAT-approved invoicing with no need to reconcile accounts. We also offer a dedicated account manager with no call centres involved so it’s a lot more of a personal service – the level of service from both our fuel card team and at a site level is something we stand by. Our customers can also manage their accounts online. We have pin security on our own fuel cards and a 48-hour turnaround for replacement cards.
What about the benefits for drivers?
Our new sites are built from the ground up and are centred around a quality environment for drivers with a particular focus on food, services and facilities. We have partnerships with top food and beverage outlets such as Costa Coffee and Subway, which underpin our commitment to providing a consistently high quality offer to our customers.
In addition, drivers can also still collect their loyalty points at Tesco and Morrisons.
What kind of fleets are you targeting?
We’re mainly looking at LGV fleets; van fleets. We’re targeting both SME businesses local to our sites but also more national business now that we have Tesco and Morrisons on board. We also have a number of HGV sites and have recently acquired sites on the A1 so can cater for companies operating HGVs depending on their routes.
As our Applegreen Fuelcard is accepted in Ireland we also target fleets travelling from the UK to Ireland.
How much interest have you seen so far?
Volumes and account numbers have grown week on week since we launched in January. Momentum is really picking up now as we add more sites and more specifically the opening of two brand new sites built from the ground up in Spaldwick and Spalding. Businesses are now starting to recognise our brand. When we initially make contact with business close local to our sites, we regularly receive positive feedback on our low fuel price promise.
We are now expanding the team and moving into a larger office space to take the growth to the next level.
How will your forecourt network grow in the future?
As a group we have 284 forecourts: 169 in Ireland, 89 in the UK and 26 in the US. So we’re a rapidly expanding group. We’ve added 11 sites so far this year and we’ve also acquired seven sites from the Carsley Group, four of which are on the A1.
We will continue the expansion of our company-owned estate and coupled with Morrison and Tesco we have a growing national coverage.