The FINANCIAL — “Gulf Georgia, one of the largest oil importers, plans to launch two loyalty clubs in the second quarter of 2012 aimed at corporate and private clients,” Mr. Adam Yaniv, Chief Executive Officer, told The FINANCIAL. He says that the local market is showing significant growth as the number of new cars in Georgia is rising faster than in Europe.
Gulf has obtained approval to distribute additional products of the Gulf product family. The company plans to start the marketing (of new products) during the 3rd quarter of this year together with the opening of Gulf conveniences stores.
Gulf Georgia is represented by 115 stations across the country. It only recently entered the local market. Since July 2011 Gulf Oil has been in control of Eco Georgia’s 20 petrol stations.
Q. What is Gulf’s share ofthe Georgian market?
A. Gulf entered the Georgian market with the aim to introduce its brand and high standards to the country. Therefore we have taken the responsibility to establish our stations all overthecountry. Now, after our first stage of introducing Gulf to Georgia, I can proudly say that we are part of Georgian business, with over 115 stations throughout the land. We have become the largest fuel retail company in Georgia holding more than of the market share.
Q. What is the total amount of investment made in the business here since the appearance of Gulfin Georgia?
A. We have made significant investments in the past year, both in acquiring assets and in cap-ex that in aggregate exceed120 million USD. We plan to make further investments during the next year. We will upgrade our locations in order to provide a better environment for our customers.
Q. In recent years the Gulf Oil brand has started returning to the world’s markets as part of its expansion as a franchised brand name. What was the main reason forthe entrance ofthe Gulf Oil brand in Georgia? What are the advantages of this brand?
A. With its historical and worldwide experience in the petrol business Gulf Oil International has been a leader in introducing its global standards to developing markets. Our group has recognized the growth and opportunities in the Georgian market on the one hand and the lack of western brands that apply international standards and quality on the other. All this was a natural fit for the Gulf expansion strategy in Georgia and in the Caucasus region.
Q. Many Georgian retailers try to associate their oil products with Europe. Can you please tell usthe origin of your products?
A. We are importing three kinds of products – Premium (95), Super (98) and Euro Diesel,all of which conform to European standards. The abovementioned products are imported in accordance with special arrangements. We import from several refineries in European countries such as Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and the Netherlands that haveall been approved by our headquarters.
Q. We have noticed that Gulf operators are well trained as they are always cheerful and greet clients before and after they fill up their tanks, while other companies do not requirethat their staff be polite, andcan’t always guarantee service quality.How does your company deal with such issues?
A. As part of our policy we value the importance of good and motivated staff to have happy customers. We believe that experienced and professional employees in all levelsare crucial to create loyal and satisfied clients.
That was the reason we invested so much time and effort in choosing and training our staff in all levels, especially those employees who have direct contact with the customer.
We recently opened our Gulf School; this is a very exciting project that was launched last December. This school is part of the Gulf policy that aims to increase service awareness and international-accepted standards of service providers and business. The school which sorts, trains and certifies its students, focuses on providing its students with the necessary tools to allow them to create and maintain long term relationships with clients in the first stage and create better employees as a by-product.
The first cycle has just ended with very good results and the next one is scheduled for March. We would be happy to invite other companies in Georgia to take part in our training programme and to enjoy its benefits along with us.
The outcome of the first cycle has convinced us to extend this project and we are very proud to be hosting the OJT international summit in Batumi this October.
Q. What is the corporate social responsibility side of Gulf in Georgia? What direction will your company be supporting?
A. Gulf Georgia supports several community and charity activities. The main two directions that Gulf supports are sports and children. Gulf supports and contributes to orphanages and to foundations that help youth at risk. In addition Gulf is the general sponsor ofGeorgian National Rugby teamand a sponsor of Dinamo Tbilisi F.C. Gulf also sponsors different sports clubs and sports organizations. Gulf was announced to be the first ranked supporter of sport by the Governor of Adjara. Gulf also supports motor sport in Georgia including a race team participating in races in the Rustavi circuit and a rally team in Batumi.
Q. One of the leading oil companies in Georgia told us last year that the Georgian market is too limited to get a lot of profit from. What is your expectation of business here?
A. We don’t share the same view. We recognize the potential for significant growth in the market. During the last eight years the Georgian market has increased rapidly, more than in other similar countries. Another good indicator is the growth of the number of new cars in the country. The number of new cars is increasing two times faster in Georgia than in western countries. We believe in this market otherwise we wouldn’t have entered here.
Q. Is it expected that the rapid development of Gulfcould force some players to close their businesses here in Georgia?
A. There is enough room for all high quality players. We believe that Gulf arrival’sin the country will nudge other players to improve in order to compete with Gulf standards. In general we believe that competition in any market makes all the players better which the customers benefit the most from.
Q. What are the advantages of Gulf? Tell us the main reasons why companies, corporate and private clients should switch to Gulf?
A. Gulf can promise long lasting cooperation with its clients, international standards together with automation capability which will ensure quality and quantity precision for our clients – all of this can be summarized in one sentence-the advantage of Gulf is its spirit and philosophy.
Q. Customers are often confused because of the variety of different brands’ names provided by different oil companies. Sometimes brands such as Euro, Eurostandard, Euroregular etc are used to boost sales. Please give us a detailed description of the products you offer plustips for drivers on how to know what to buy?
A. The Georgian market basically consumes six products and most companies provide at least four products. In our stations you can find the following products -Regular- AI 92, Euro Regular- AI 93, Premium-AI 95, Super-AI 98, Diesel- L62 and Euro Diesel which differ in the quality of the refined product, and affect the energy and efficiency produced from the fuel and the effect on the engine.
Q. Are you going to make investments in New Energy? For example electric car charging service etc?
A. Our group pays much attention to participating in green energy innovations. We have appointed two European companies that specialize in renewable energy solutions to conduct a pilot programme for Gulf Georgia taking in to consideration the local market’s needs.
Q. What are the current prices and your predictions for 2012?
A. The prices of refined products that are sold to our clients are linked directly to the price per barrel of oil in the world. As it is known, stability on international markets and especially in gulf countries will allow the prices to decrease whereas crises and instability will cause increases in the international price per barrel.