By Convenience World, August 2022
In what is claimed to be a first for the market, fuel industry businesses such as QSRs, fuel retailers, fund managers, developers, brokers and agents will have access to data on fuel stations and associated retail.
LeaseInfo, described as Australia’s premier provider of retail leasing services, says it now offers “the largest database in NSW on fuel stations and associated retail”.
Key data points from the LeaseInfo Fuel Retail database include highway traffic data, sub-lease details, rent commencement, and expiry date and escalations.
“We expect non-fuel retail to continue growth, effectively becoming much more important to fuel retailers as the latter brace for further price hikes down the road,” said Simon Fonteyn, Executive Director of LeaseInfo owner FLNT, a platform that aggregates and maps internal and external data sets.
LeaseInfo Fuel Retail provides accurate, timely and independent leasing data from one-off reports to a full-suite subscription service.
“By expertly gathering and analysing thousands of detailed data sources, it maintains an unparalleled database from which our customers can draw out the precise information they need. Visualised via the FLNT platform, the information is presented in an easy-to-use, easy-to- search, mobile-friendly format.”
FLNT General Manager of Operations Jennifer Lyons says Australia has lacked a comprehensive fuel retail database.
“This demand, together with the explosion in drive-through retail, made this new data set a no-brainer for us,” she said.
LeaseInfo’s new fuel retail database will continue to evolve, with plans to expand into surrounding retail uses, such as bulky goods, along with further analysis on rezoning potential, full- service restaurants and other areas.
State of the industry
Like most retail industries during the pandemic, fuel retail was severely impacted in the first half of 2020. It has rebounded strongly, partly because public transport was perceived as a spreader mode,
and partly due to the strong growth of in-store convenience networks and drive-through retailing that adjoins or is part of fuel retail.
Non-fuel retail businesses, spanning convenience stores, food and grocery retail, and services such as car wash, mechanical and auto repairs, have grown substantially, which has triggered fierce competition from fuel retailers to unlock additional value from their real estate networks.
Globally, fuel retailers have become increasingly aware of maximising their real estate networks to cater for a changing retail landscape.
Consumer preferences have changed since the pandemic began, with more local trips to buy fresh groceries and other items. This has driven partnerships between major supermarkets and fuel retailers.
However, another trend is the increasing online ordering of food delivery, which is where fuel retail has an advantage, as often the sites are closest to the consumer. Food delivery partnerships, BP with Deliveroo in the UK, Shell with Foodpanda in Singapore, and 7-Eleven with DoorDash in the US, are prime examples.
These types of partnerships will likely evolve in Australia as well. Increasingly, fuel retailers will act like mini shopping centres by partnering with various retailers. Examples already include Pie Face, Boost Juice and Krispy Kreme. However, a more comprehensive range of partnerships is expected, including those involving Australia Post, gyms, pharmacies, and medical and allied health.
The real estate leasing market for fuel retail remains intense, with strong competition for sites. This has been exacerbated by the spiralling value of residential development land in Australia, driving the sale of inner-city petrol stations to developers.
Increasingly, fuel and associated retail are considered an ‘alternative asset class’ to traditional real estate investments, attracting a range of institutional and special purpose investment vehicles. Examples are Dexus Convenience Retail REIT (real estate investment trust) and Banner Asset Management’s Service Station & Convenience Store Property Fund, which it expects to grow into a $500 million investment portfolio within three years.
Although the global outlook for fuel retail in the developed world is for a peak by 2030 followed by decline, it’s expected that fuel retailers will offset this with increases in non-fuel retail sales and investments in other infrastructure. This will include significant investment in electronic vehicle charging stations, additional retail infrastructure such as improved seating and facilities, and, in some cases, vertical integration with quick- service retailers.
This will require fuel retailers to become increasingly aware of retail leasing pricing, structures and margins. Hence, the increasing need for a sophisticated and profound fuel retail database.