A pioneer in the retailing of gasoline is coming in June or July when four Gulf gas stations open in Mexico.
Gulf Oil plans to have 100 full-service and self-serve stations operating by the end of the year, a number it wants to see grow to 2,000 in the next three years.
“We’re proud to be the first to begin operations with a new brand in the recently opened Mexican market,” said Gulf México general manager Sergio de la Vega at a press conference today.
Mexico City and Monterrey will be the locations for two of the first four stations; the others are still under analysis.
The company will import its products from California and Texas and will consider opportunities in the European market as well as from Mexico’s oil company, Pemex.
Gulf won’t be building any new gas stations for its foray into Mexico. Instead, it plans to lure away the operators of existing Pemex stations by offering them a franchise-like scheme along with “a toolbox that will allow them to be more competitive,” said de la Vega.
“We are going to be the best investment option” for service station operators, he said.
Operators will not be charged a franchise fee either, because “they already paid Pemex and we are not going to ask them to pay again.” Furthermore, said the Gulf executive, “everything they have paid to Pemex we are going to reimburse.”
De la Vega also said discussions are under way with a convenience store operator. He didn’t specify which but said it was not one of the bigger companies and the objective is to “offer a different experience” to gas station customers.
The federal government’s energy reform program is opening the petroleum market to new players by dismantling Pemex’ 76-year-old monopoly. Rules restricting retail fuel sales were relaxed January 1, allowing new retailers to operate in the market.
At present only Pemex can import petroleum products but that will change April 1. The last step in the liberalization process comes in 2018 when fuel sales will become entirely free of controls over pricing.
Gulf opened the world’s first drive-in service station in 1913; today, it operates more than 2,100.
In Mexico, de la Vega said the firm intends to give customers what they want, which for many might be the delivery of full liters, an issue at many Pemex stations that have been caught selling customers short.
The Gulf spokesman said that as part of its strategy it will guarantee complete liters of fuel.