Vivo Energy, the Shell service station licensee in Africa, has added new sites in Uganda and Rwanda as it seeks to cement its market leading positions.
In Rwanda, it has acquired assets from Energy Solution (ENES) and GEMECA to expand and improve its network. This sees Vivo Energy, which also markets and distributes Engen fuel, increase its service station network from 24 sites to 40 sites. Thirteen of those sites are in operation now. Three will be opened in the next twelve months.
In Uganda, Vivo Energy has added 11 new Shell service stations expanding the network to 161 sites nationally. As in Kenya, in Uganda Vivo Energy aims to turn its forecourts into retail destinations, with a range of services including banking, foodservice and vehicle maintenance.
The new store openings reflect a bullish approach to growth in what has been a very difficult year for fuel retailers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In early March, Vivo Energy revealed that pretax profits had fallen by 29% year on year, from $246m to $175. Revenues fell 17% year on year, down from $8.3bn to $6.9bn.
A notable low point was aviation, where fuel volumes fell by 55% year on year as airlines grounded their fleets. Even so, fuel sales in its marine business also fell due to lower cargo and cruise line movements.
The recovery of oil prices, the possibility that movements of people and goods may start to return to pre-pandemic levels and the prospect of a post-COVID-19 bounce as consumers celebrate the return to “normal” all point to a much stronger 2021. Vivo Energy is using this period partly to expand and modernise its offer in its less sophisticated markets in the expectation that when demand does return, it can pick up more retail business.