The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Retail plan to be reworked

Mumbai, Sept. 17: With the Supreme Court stalling the sale of Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, the oil companies that were eyeing a stake in these two oil majors are now focussing on retail marketing of petro products.

Bagging the government’s stake in HPCL would have given the aspirant a direct control of 20 per cent of the country’s retail petro market.

Sources say some of these companies have started reworking their retail strategies. ONGC, for instance, plans to hire a leading consultant who will look into the entire gamut of retailing, including branding and positioning of the brand.

Sources close to the exploration giant said that the consultant is likely to look into variety of issues which include brand positioning and devising a unique selling proposition that will give ONGC an edge over its competitors.

ONGC has permission from the Centre to set up 1,100 retail outlets in the country with the first outlet set to be opened this year. Most of these outlets are likely to be in the southern part of the country owing to their proximity to Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), which is now under its belt.

The corporation has, however, laid out plans to open retail outlets in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttranchal, Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Sources added that ONGC would also join hands with other oil majors to feed its outlets.

Essar Oil is also in the midst of finalising its expansion plan. It has already set up a retail outlet in Raigad district of Maharashtra and is planning around 2,000 outlets in the country.

While Essar Oil became the first Indian private sector company in over a century to set up a retail outlet, sources said that it would finalise its strategy based on the response to this outlet which has an autospare shop and a dhaba attached to it.

“The first outlet, though significant, is only being viewed as a soft launch. Over the next few months, the company will spend time in understanding the consumer, his response and his demands. Subsequently the facilities will be fine-tuned for its future outlets,” sources said.

Essar Oil had earlier appointed Raman Pandya, who was heading marketing at Castrol, to lead its retail foray.

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