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    BP To Sell Nashville Stations

    Oil giant pulls out of market with sale of 51 sites.

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- BP is preparing to pull out of the retail business in the greater Nashville area by selling off its 51 service stations to independent operators.

    Accordingt to the Nashville City Paper, the company is marketing the assets of its service stations/convenience stores to jobbers that, in most cases, would own and operate the stores and buy Amoco brand fuel from BP. The stores would retain the BP name and design.

    BP started requesting bids earlier this year, but none of the stations has been sold yet, said Scott Dean, spokesman for BP North America Inc., based in Warrenville, Ill.

    “In Nashville, there will be no change as far as consumers are concerned,” he told the paper.

    The deals could be structured in a number of ways, Dean said. Of the 51 BP stations in the market, 39 stations, including the land, are owned and operated by BP. The rest are owned and operated by dealers, who could still remain in the picture. In some cases, the jobber may simply become the middleman and secure a supply agreement from BP, Dean explained.

    The move to jobbers is not unusual for BP. Dean noted that BP operates about 14,000 service stations in the United States, 10,000 of which are run by jobbers. Earlier this year, BP sold its assets in Detroit to three jobbers.

    “We're just always looking for the best way to serve our customers, and quite often we find that a regional jobber can do a very, very good job of marketing in that particular region,” Dean told the City Paper.

    Mike Williams, executive director of the Tennessee Petroleum Council, said more and more major oil companies are getting out of the retail business -- at least for now.

    “The one thing that is constant in the oil business is change,” Williams said. “So I wouldn't be a bit surprised that somewhere down the road, companies start buying convenience stores and gas stations back.”

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