Phoenix zooming in on retail business

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PHOENIX Petroleum Philippines, Inc. is setting its focus on expanding its retail business with high-growth and high-margin brands as it recovers from the impact of the global pandemic.

The listed independent fuel retailer on Tuesday said it needs to adapt to changes and disruptions in markets caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Phoenix is zooming in on retail, which it sees as “major force” driving the company, aiming to further expand the segment with “high growth, high margin consumer brands over time,” according to Phoenix President Henry R. Fadullon.

With the altered customer purchasing behavior post-pandemic, the company intends to complement its retail offers with digital initiatives, which in turn will multiply its footprint “exponentially,” Mr. Fadullon said.

In the first three months of the year, Phoenix shed P215 million as overall revenues fell due to the volatility of the global oil market.

This was despite its retail and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) businesses’ strong performance, with volumes up 9% and 39%, respectively.

“We were not spared but we were able to navigate the downturn better because of our earlier investments in strategic, higher-margin areas such as retail and LPG,” Phoenix Chief Executive Officer Dennis A. Uy earlier said.

Higher-margin products like retail fuels, LPG, convenience retailing, and payments, make up 45% of the company’s domestic revenues this year.

Moving forward, FamilyMart, the company’s convenience store brand, widened its food offerings with for-sharing meals, frozen food, and options with longer shelf life, aside from bolstering its online presence through applications and deliveries.

As the government further eased quarantine policies, Phoenix’s over 650 fuel stations saw demand picking up with sales “nearing” the pre-quarantine levels. These outlets now allow contactless payments as part of safety protocols while operating amid the pandemic.

Moreover, the company said it expects that safety and health protocols will drive demand for “COVID-resilient” LPG products for home cooking.

Phoenix runs a total of 20,000 touchpoints comprised of service stations, LPG and lubricant retail outlets, FamilyMart stores, and Posible retailers, serving more than 1.2 million customers. — Adam J. Ang