Aral invests in its service station network

The aral gas station chain is expanding its network. Aral CEO stefan brok said in dusseldorf on wednesday evening that the company plans to add 20 to 30 stations per year, both through new construction and through cooperation with dealers already active in the market. Aral plans to invest around 150 million euros in this by 2017, brok said. At the beginning of the week, the service station boss of shell, the company’s main competitor, joerg wienke, had also said in an interview with the world announced double-digit million investments in an initial 100 stations. Shell plans to use the money primarily to modernize stores in existing service stations.

German service station business faces tough competition as overall fuel sales decline. Aral sees itself as the market leader with 2391 service stations at the end of 2011 (2010: 2406) and a 23 percent market share. The energy information service EID estimates shell’s market share at 21.5 percent, ahead of jet (10.5 percent). The main source of income for service station attendants is not gasoline, but sales in service station stores, which account for more than 60 percent, as brok explained for aral. The car wash business generates 18 percent of aral’s income, followed by the sale of fuels and lubricants with 12 percent.

Overall, aral had made a profit of about the previous year’s level of one cent per liter of fuel sold in 2011. This is equivalent to about 100 million euros, the aral boss said. Aral will stick to the controversial fuel E10 despite the sometimes heated discussions of the past year and the reluctance of consumers, brok confirmed. E10 will continue to be offered at all stations as the most favorable gasoline fuel. In the meantime, almost every fifth liter of gasoline fuel is E10, the trend is increasing.

Brok is skeptical about the prospects of electric mobility for the tightly calculated service station business. "I don’t see it as a rough business potential for the gas station at the moment."Electric cars still need time. He sees them "in ten years in urban areas as a third or fourth vehicle". Electric refueling is more likely to be something for supermarkets while shopping or for parking garages.