Auto

Gas retailers revamping

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto and Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 30, 2012    

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TREVOR Heaven, president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers' Association (JGRA), has said that service stations will be revamping their operations in a bid to save the sector from extinction.

"We are facing an unprecedented financial challenge," he told Auto. "At this point, there are four stations in the Corporate Area that are already closed. These are the Total service stations in Harbour View, Half-Way-Tree, shortwood, and Red Hills."

"I intend to seek audience with the management of the French-owned Total Jamaica to see how we can best resolve the issue," he said.

When contacted, Paula Duncan, HR manager for Total Jamaica, said she could not comment as the company's managing director, Dr Michael Faulkner, was off the island.

However, the JGRA president said he has been advised that another two service stations in St Catherine and one in Manchester were on the verge of closure, but refused to name the brands.

Heaven, who met with retailers at the JGRA's Constant Spring Road headquarters on Wednesday, attributed the current downturn in the gasolene retail business to high operational costs, shrinkage due to temperature changes, reduced gross income (low margins and reduced throughput) and increased bank and credit card charges.

The JGRA president said a raft of new measures would have to be implemented.

"We'll be moving away from full service to self service. We'll will have discussions with the unions to see how best we can transition," he said. "While we [the dealers] develop other income streams, we can divert our employees into other areas of activities rather than dislocate them."

Heaven said dealers would discontinue accepting Master Cards and Visa Cards at service stations as the bank charges are sometimes greater than the profits made.

"Only the NCB Key Card and debit cards will be accepted," he said.

Heaven said he would also be seeking a meeting with Dr Peter Phillips, minister of finance, planning and the public service, as well as Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce, regarding an amendment to the Weights and Measurement Regulation.

The JGRA comprises 160 members and celebrated its 61st anniversary in April, 2012.

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