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UAE’s gas station convenience store wars: Revving up retail

There is a war happening in the least likely sector in the UAE.

No, it is not tech, construction or e-commerce.

Try a gas station convenient store war.

ADNOC Distribution, the UAE’s biggest fuel, and convenience retailer has announced that it has completed the opening of its first five Géant Express branded convenience stores in the UAE.

Géant Express

The move comes after their first quarter of 2018 financial report of average basket size, which measures the average amount each customer spent in the company’s convenience stores, rose by 12.5% from their ADNOC Oasis stores.


What has this got to do with its UAE’s counterpart ZOOM?

Though unannounced, ADNOC and ENOC are battling for mini-market supremacy for the end user’s Dirham.

Why is this happening?

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Depth of service

ENOC, with its 11,000 employees, owns 69% of the retail convenience store segment in Dubai with the brand ZOOM, which has 113 stores spread out across the emirate within the existing 120 fuel stations.

ZOOM evolved into a modern brand name, leading the industry into a new age of enhanced customer experience and service excellence, according to the company’s report, but also so visible to the naked eye.

Developed in collaboration with top European brand and design consultancies, ZOOM in all its formats, is now an upmarket concept regarding design and fit-out, despite being a service for gas station customers.

Over the past 25 years, ZOOM, using various brand names, has evolved into a sophisticated offering in terms of design, décor and store layout, developed with top international design consultants.

During 2017, ZOOM launched its mobile ordering e-commerce platform in collaboration with Instashop, giving customers the option of convenient door-to-door deliveries by ordering through the mobile app.

From paying credit cards and utility bills, airline tickets to gift cards, topping up mobile wallets, or recharging local and international phone credits, the ZOOM service counter is a one-stop shop for integrated convenience.

Currently, 15 services are available, with a further 25 underway.

In 2017, ZOOM also became the first retailer to accept METRO and TRAM NOL payment at its outlets.

With 54 locations across the UAE, the Pronto coffee-shop and fresh bakery concept are designed to complement ZOOM outlets.

Fresh delicatessen and bakery goods – including made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and a range of freshly brewed coffee and other drinks – are available in a friendly, contemporary and relaxing environment.

ZOOM has moved on to expand beyond that in major cities, targeting commercial and residential communities and hotel/leisure destinations to provide the public with easy access to their needs by always being within their reach.

The convenience stores had more than 45 million customer visits during last year.

ENOC is committed to expanding the number of UAE service stations by 40 percent until 2020 of which approximately 90% will have ZOOM convenience stores.

Regionally, ZOOM plans to further expand its presence in Saudi Arabia, where it currently has four convenience stores in petrol stations and expects to have 27 stores in KSA by 2018.

Where does that leave Adnoc and its Oasis convenience stores?

Looking to sell more

ADNOC says it has a 67% share of the retail convenience store market share in the UAE, owning the brand ADNOC Oasis with 235 stores across the region.

It said that by improving product categories, pricing strategy and through more promotional activity it could convince customers who use filling stations to spend more.

A recent survey conducted by ADNOC found that, on average, it was 5-8% cheaper than its competitors, and that the average spend of $4.10 per transaction is about 15% below competitors.

It believes it can wring more sales from existing shoppers.

In comes, Géant Express, opening convenience outlets within ADNOC stations. That’s ADNOC Oasis’ newest rebranding strategy.

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Geant reactions

Four new stores were inaugurated this week, at various sites across Abu Dhabi, followed the opening of the first Géant Express convenience store in May. The company has received positive customer feedback on its new convenience store offering and has seen increased footfall since the opening of the first store, according to ADNOC.

The stores are part of an agreement with Urban Foods under which another five Géant Express stores will open in the coming months across the UAE.

The stores are undergoing a full refit including an enhanced store layout, which boasts a new design that gives the store a fresh and modern look and feel.

The new stores offer fresh ‘food to go’ and ‘food for now’ segments, with a wide selection of freshly made sandwiches and bakery products.

Géant Express’ deli section

The expansion of products also includes healthy alternatives such as dates and fruits, as well as Arabic sweets. Also, there is a new accessories range that features a host of new baby and travel goods.

Five additional Géant Express sites will open in the coming months, including two more in Abu Dhabi, two in Sharjah and one in Ajman.

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Are Battle lines drawn?

Since neither Enoc nor Adnoc has a presence in each’s core territory, the competition is likely to take place in other emirates, such as Sharjah, Ajman, and others where the two petrol stations are expanding their reach and retail presence.