News briefs: M&S, Lidl low-cost energy, brands defrauded, and Topaz wins big

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10 November 2008 | 0

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M&S to sell food in forecourts

It has been reported that M&S will be trialling a franchise pilot programme for its food in the UK in 2009. If the programme proves successful, independent BP forecourts across the entire country may have the right to carry M&S Simply Food branding. This follows the opening of the 100th Simply Food point of sale by the BP and M&S partnership at a BP Connect location last month. The M&S franchise format trial will be conducted with a carefully chosen independent retailer, according to BP. Karen Hubbard, BP’s UK Convenience Retail Director, said: “M&S is very pleased with the way the relationship is going with BP and would like to extend it further. But we do not have company-owned locations right across the UK.”

Lidl launches low-cost energy offer

Lidl has launched the first low-cost energy offer in Italy, Lidl Energia. Having signed an agreement with local energy company MPE Energia, it can now offer its customers the “Energia Low-Cost” contract, which provides one month’s electricity free of charge per year to all Lidl card holders, and free of charge energy for 20 days a year to all other subscribers. Lidl shoppers may also avail of the ‘Prezzo Bloccato’ offer, which grants a fixed price for two years after the signature of the contract, while ‘Risparmio Verde’ offers energy exclusively produced from renewable sources at a fixed price for two years. Lidl low-cost energy is available across all 500 of its stores in Italy.

Rob Roberts and Coca-Cola scammed in E800,000 fraud

A scam involving fake front companies was used to defraud several businesses, including Rob Roberts and Coca-Cola, in 2002. Until recently, Suzanne Reilly from Milltown faced 49 charges of fraud, but walked free from court last month when her former business partner pleaded guilty to the crimes and the DPP decided to drop her charges.

David Neill, also from Milltown, claimed responsibility for the €800,000 scam, pleading guilty to 15 charges, including lodging official documents under false names and obtaining goods on false pretences worth up to €46,500. Shortly afterwards, two others, Darren Cahill and Stephen Doyle, pleaded guilty to charges relating to the same con, which mostly targeted multinationals.

The fraudsters admitted to contacting legitimate companies to do business with the fake organisations. They accepted payment “for goods” by direct debit into bank accounts set up under fake names, then cancelled them after the deliveries were made and the goods sold on. Victims were defrauded of significant amounts of cash; Rob Roberts lost €161,387, Coca-Cola almost €54,000, and Lever Faberge is owed almost €79,000. Neill was found guilty and will be sentenced next month.

Topaz wins big at 2008 forecourt awards

At the recent Forecourt and Convenience Retailer Awards, held on 26 September at Citywest in Dublin, Topaz walked away with four gongs, and was nominated for several others. Topaz Dublin Port won Newcomer of the Year, Topaz Newlands Cross won Best use of Category Management, Topaz won Best Oil Company Initiative, and Tobins Gala/Topaz, Letterkenny Donegal won Best Forecourt Facilities.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister for Trade and Commerce, John McGuinness TD, applauded the retailers receiving accolades on the night, saying that it was right to honour the general body of forecourt and convenience retailers, saying: “It is not sufficiently recognised that the growth and transformation of this sector has probably been the most striking development of the past decade in retail distribution.”

 

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