Retail Accounting

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Creating a Fuel Retail Cloud-Based Ecosystem

Cloud-based EcosystemOne of the key benefits of using CounterBooks is its ability to integrate a number of (otherwise disparate) systems that the retailer already has access to.

When CounterBooks was first conceived and developed, it broke new ground by being the first major UK-based accounting product to be available over the internet.  This brought immediate benefit to our customers in that they became responsible for just the usage of the system, and did not have to worry about managing the installation and support of this key part of their business.  Being able to access their data from anywhere, anytime, was merely an additional bonus to many early adopters.

Several years after the initial launch, we introduced the ability for CounterBooks to import sales and invoice data generated by the existing Point of Sale and Back Office systems already in use at many of our customer’s retail sites.  POS systems that we have developed interfaces for include Wayne Nucleus, Torex Prism, Huth ITAS Vision, Background 2 Flow and Wincor.  This import process now accounts for approximately 80% of all data input into CounterBooks and not only saves our customer many valuable hours of book-keeping time, but improves data accuracy and reporting as well.

We have recently rolled out a further enhancement to this import process that allows us to autonomously collect data on the customer’s behalf and upload it into CounterBooks directly.  The retailer then simply has the responsibility to review and accept the uploaded data before it is saved into their accounts.

We have been able to do this because of recent developments in Cloud-Based ePOS systems that, like CounterBooks, are based on a central data store which is accessed over the internet by the retailer and are designed from the outset with the ability to exchange data with other systems.  These upgrades have also given us the ability to import data from the retailer’s biggest suppliers in a similarly centralised manner.  Providers that we currently work with can be seen here, and we are adding further names to this list on a continual basis.

The upshot of this is that we have enabled the retailer to become part of and to make use of an ecosystem that they may not have realised existed previously.  In fact the process is often so transparent that many of them no doubt remain unaware of its existence even once part of it!  Hopefully, though, all of our customers quickly appreciate the benefits we are bringing them in terms of reduced overheads and staffing costs, improved accounting practices and a better understanding of their business’ financial position.


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Financial Reporting in the Oil and Gas Industry

We’ve found a useful resource on the oil and gas industry. This publication considers the major accounting practices adopted by the oil and gas industry under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).oil and gas industry
The need for this publication has arisen due to:

  • the continuing absence of an extractive industries standard under IRFS;
  • the adoption of IRFS by oil and gas entities accross a number of jurisdictions with overwhelming acceptance that applying IFRS in this industry will be a continual challenge; and
  • ongoing transition projects in a number of other jurisdictions, for which companies can draw on the existing interpretations of the industry.

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BP set to get Rosneft offer for TNK-BP stake

Forecourt AccountingBP is expected to receive an offer from Russian oil giant Rosneft worth $28bn (£17bn) for its stake in the Russian TNK-BP joint venture.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said an offer was “pretty certain”.

BP said in June that it was selling its half stake in TNK-BP following problems in relations with the Russian billionaires who own the rest of it.

The deal to buy BP’s stake would make Rosneft the world’s largest publicly traded oil company.

The key question in the potential deal is how much cash will be offered and whether BP will end up with a 10% or 20% stake in Rosneft.

On Tuesday, the four Russian billionaires who own the other half of TNK-BP through their firm AAR signed a memorandum of understanding to sell their stake to Rosneft at a later date.

osneft has stressed that neither deal has yet been finalised.

“We continue to evaluate a number of opportunities and will update the market as and when appropriate,” the company said in a statement.

In July, AAR expressed an interest in increasing its share of the joint venture to 75%.

This gave it “preferred bidder” status and triggered a 90-day period in which no other interested party would be allowed to conclude a deal with BP.

That period ended at midnight on 17 October. Other bidders were then given a deadline of 0900 BST on Thursday to make offers for the business.

BP’s board is expected to discuss the offers on Friday.

Relations between BP and AAR had been strained for some time, but the problems came to a head last year when AAR was unhappy about BP’s attempt to form an exploration alliance with Rosneft. It secured a High Court injunction blocking the plan.

TNK-BP is important to BP financially as it accounts for almost a third of the London-based oil firm’s total crude production and about 10% of its profits.

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Drive Off Prevention: A Useful Guide for Petrol Retailers


The aim of this booklet is to show you some of the common signs that a drive off is about to occur.  It is not an exhaustive list but will hopefully provide you with the tools to identify and prevent future drive offs.

A drive off occurred after each of the images you are about to see were captured.

Watch the driver

•The driver is still at the wheel whilst the passenger fills the car with fuel.

•The passenger door is open.

Recommended Action

•Use the tannoy to ask for the passenger door to be closed.

•Do not authorise the pump or stop if already authorised.

How is the vehicle parked?

•In this instance the vehicle was parked facing away from the kiosk.

•Again the passenger is filling up with fuel whilst the driver is still at the wheel.

Recommended Action

•Use the tannoy to ask for the passenger door to be closed.

•Do not authorise the pump or stop if already authorised.

Is the driver trying to hide something?

•This driver is filling jerry cans placed on the back seat of the car.

•The driver is trying to hide his body and face behind his car.

Recommended Action

•Do not authorise the pump.•Cut off the pump if it has already been authorised.

Beware of large vehicles

•In this example the motorcyclist is using the delivery truck as cover.

•The rider is also still wearing his crash helmet making identification impossible.

Recommended Action

•If you can’t see the pump and who’s at it, don’t authorise it.

Check vehicle registration plates

•You can clearly see the plates have been deliberately covered up on this vehicle.

Recommended Action

•If you can’t see a registration plate don’t authorise the pump.

Make sure you can see customers’ faces

•Here both bikers are using the same pump to refuel.

•Neither riders have removed their crash helmets.

•One of the bikes is not displaying a registration plate.

Recommended Action

•Don’t authorise the pump, request pre-payment.

Is that engine still on?

•This vehicle was facing away from the kiosk.  Notice the brake lights are on which could mean the engine is still running!

Recommended Action

•Use the tannoy to ask for the engine to be turned off before authorising the pump.

How is the vehicle parked?

•In this case it is pointing towards the exit to make a quick get away.

•The vehicle lights are still on which could mean the engine is still running.

Recommended Action

•Use the tannoy to show the driver that you have noticed them on the forecourt.

In summary …

Common Signs

•Driver still at the wheel, passenger filling up

•Open doors

•Number plates hidden or appear altered

•Lights of the vehicle still switched on

•Vehicle parked facing away from the kiosk towards the exit

•Customer trying to hide behind their own or another’s vehicle when filling up

•Bikers not removing their crash helmets

What can be done

•Make eye contact, this can be surprisingly effective if the person knows someone has seen them.

•Use the tannoy to make suspicious people aware you have noticed them on the forecourt.  Ask them to check their engine is off if lights are on, close open doors etc.

•If the station is manned by two or more persons make regular walks out onto the forecourt to re-stock or clean the forecourt.

•Don’t be afraid to request pre-payment, go with your instincts.

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Automatic pumps and Pre-Payment to prevent drive offs?

In Australia the police in several States believe that pre-payment is the only way to solve the drive-off issue. ACAPMA , the Automatic PumpsAustralian Convenience and Petroleum Marketing Association, is promoting a National Drive Off Register as an alternative which aims to identify problem vehicles rather than changing people’s buying habits.

Although pre-payment is one solution to the drive off problem it can present a barrier to a customer using a service station if only some sites operate the policy in the area. The acceptance of the practice is country dependent and my recent travels in France and the UK have highlighted this.

1. France

There has been a general acceptance of unmanned service stations for many years in France to provide 24 hour operation even if a service station is manned at certain times of the day. On two recent trips it was noticeable that many manned service stations now have notices (often hand written) asking for pre-payment during manned operation although when filling up the request is often not enforced and a simple nod to the cashier is enough for authorisation of the pump sale. In this case the pre-payment request is enforced with discretion and no doubt partly dependent on the appearance of the customer.

2. UK

Apart from one or two service stations I used in the Manchester area twenty years ago I cannot remember being asked to pre-pay. The pre-payment was normally during the night shift and the cashier served through a heavily protected “night window” for security reasons. Signs can still be seen at some sites asking users to pre-pay at night. Recently automatic pumps allowing credit card payment have started to appear on some forecourts although for many years legislation prevented fully unmanned operation and there seems to be little move.

Why the difference?

The main difference is due to the convenience offering in the two countries. Apart from motorways and main routes there is very little in the way of convenience sales at most rural French service stations. In many cases there is a traditional workshop which generates the main income for the site and fuel is sold as a service to the local community. The dominant model with the supermarkets is unmanned fuel sales providing an additional service at a large supermarket or hypermarket site. In all cases pre-payment will rarely be a barrier to making a sale and there are few (if any) add on purchases to be lost.

In the UK the trend over the years has been for traditional fuel and workshop sites to close and the remaining sites to have a significant convenience offering. In these sites the operator wants to interact with the customer and any barrier to the customer entering the shop is undesirable. With pre-payment the customer will typically go to the cashier, arrange the prepayment, fill up and leave. This is similar to buying from an automatic pump. The customers will be less likely to spend time looking for items to buy in the convenience store and there is almost no opportunity for an impulse sale. With this business model pre-payment is likely to reduce convenience sales and seriously affect the overall profit margin for the site.

So are pre-payments a viable solution to prevent drive-offs?

The answer mainly depends on the market. If it is similar to France, using pre-payment is unlikely to reduce sales. If it is like the UK with a convenience led offering then it would be likely to reduce sales if generally introduced. The exception being 24 hour operation where security concerns for the staff make it acceptable to the customers.

Going back to the Australian situation, convenience sales are likely to suffer if pre-payment is introduced and it will be interesting to see if the police’s recommendations are followed. The new ACAPMA promoted National Drive Off Register to identify problem vehicles may represent a better alternative to identify problem vehicles and still keep service stations open for business as usual.

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Petrol prices and the Forecourt Retailer

Although fuel profit margins are often agreed in terms of “pence per litre” (or cents per litre) guaranteeing the retailer a fixed margin if target volumes are met the pole price of the fuel is critical for the volumes sold. Most retailers will confirm that customers are highly price sensitive and a 1 pence difference between neighbouring service stations can be enough to persuade customers to drive an extra few miles for cheaper fuel, even if the cost of driving the extra miles may be more than the amount sales.

Generally lower pole prices mean higher volumes but the current economic situation is making trading ever more difficult and a report from the AA indicates that sales are declining despite lower forecourt prices.

Click on the link below for the full article on the BBC News website.

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UK Forecourt Market Report 2009

How many forecourt sites are there in the UK?

Forecourt store numbers up for first time in seven years. The market has reached its plateau of ca. of 8,000 – 9,000. We do not expect the market to decline any further due to the necessity for intense market penetration.

Who are the forecourt retailers?

Forecourt retailers and the number of stores they own are listed in the table below:

Market structure

In 2009, 3,538 were company owned and 5,475 were dealer network. Some independent retailers are considering the introduction of CODO (Company Owned Dealer Operated).

Supermarket groups continue to target the forecourt segment. Forecourt stores have grown in number by 2.3% in the latest year, with the number of standalone sites operated by the leading major multiple operators increasing by 7.7%. There are over 2,200 oil company multiple sites in operation such as Esso On The Run. Today, 94% of all forecourt sites are now classed as convenience stores such as Nisa, Premier, Spar and Mace.


In the past forecourts were there just for petrol, oil and distilled water but now they are trying to bring in more merchandise to make things easier for people on the move. Five future trends are listed below:

1. Continued sector investment

2. New ways to demonstrate value

3. Increasing penetration of food-to-go

4. Segment specific formats

5. The role of technology