Beleaguered independent fuel retailers are being offered a safety rope in the form of a new convenience retailing offer called BP Essentials.

The new fascia would help small independent retailers battling against falling fuel volumes and supermarket competition to stay afloat, BP fuel operations manager Peter Molloy told C-Store.

"A robust convenience offer is a proven defence in a tough fuel environment," he said. "Convenience shopping continues to grow each year and independent forecasting suggests that the convenience market will grow at the rate of 5% per annum over the next five years. That's money that fuel retailers really need to get their hands on if they don't want to become another statistic."

Molloy said that in addition to a comprehensive, competitively priced grocery range and a smart green fascia, those who sign up to the BP Essentials format would also be able to offer attractive multibuy promotions which will be supported by high-impact pos material.

They will also gain access to BP's extranet, through which they can order online and get category management advice.

The offer, which BP claims is available with no investment, has been designed to suit a wide gamut of forecourt sites, although BP expects it to prove particularly popular with smaller outlets who are struggling against declining fuel volumes and sales.

In another move, larger stores with more than 25sq m of floor space and fuel volumes of more than three million litres will also be given the chance to implement a Wild Bean Café concession.

The café initiative was launched in company-owned stores in 2003 and now features at 325 sites.

More than 100 of BP's 850 independent fuel retailers have already registered an interest in the Essentials format or the Wild Bean Café offer, and BP expects a large number to convert over the next few years.