Bp To Sell 114 Sites
"Although customers are spending less and visiting less frequently, we have to invest now so we're ready when spending loosens up among consumers."
Melina Hall, Thorntons Inc. (see page 39)
QUICK FACT More than half (56 percent) of consumers use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, with four in 10 interacting with retailers on them.
Oil company also assisting retailers with oil spill impact
BP recently put 114 properties located in 22 states up for sale. The majority of the properties are being marketed as redevelopment sites, while some are being offered as part of potential franchise deals, according to BP's broker, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
The decision to sell the properties came before the April explosion of BP's oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, said Guy Ponticiello, a Jones Lang managing director, noting BP announced plans to exit from direct retail ownership a few years ago.
Meanwhile, as some Americans reject BP-branded retail sites to protest the oil spill, station owners insisted BP do more to convince consumers that the boycotts mostly hurt independent businesses. To win back customers, the owners asked for help to reduce the price at the pump; help paying for more advertising aimed at motorists; and more frequent meetings with BP officials. The demands were delivered at a Chicago meeting with BP marketing officials last month.
"They have got to be more competitive on their fuel costs to the retailers so we can be competitive on the street ... and bring back customers that we've lost," Bob Juckniess, who has seen sales drop 20 percent at some of his 10 BP-branded stations in the Chicago area, said in published reports.
"We're their branded marketers," he said. "It would be foolish for BP to not support its branded marketers when clearly we can document that some of the loss that we've experienced is due to the incidents in the Gulf."
In response, BP sent checks to operators and suppliers of BP-branded gasoline stations to offset some of the losses caused by boycotts prompted by the Gulf oil spill.
Other assistance includes reductions in credit card fees and more national advertising. The cash component will be based on distributors' volume and will be higher for stations in Gulf Coast markets, according to reports citing John Kleine of the BP Amoco Marketers Association.
Distributors would still be free to sue BP and seek compensation from the $20 billion compensation fund if they choose, Kleine added.
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