Esso holding its own against local retailers
Esso (Thailand), the local unit of global oil giant ExxonMobil, is resolute about keeping its position in the business despite an intense battle.
"We are quite low-profile in line with our parent's policy, but what we are focused on is marketing in order to maintain our position," said Mongkolnimit Auacherdkul, Esso's manager of public and government affairs.
"Even though the other players have been aggressively expanding in terms of service stations all these years, we still manage to keep our share of the market."
The company puts its market share at 15%, a close third to Bangchak Petroleum Plc.
Top-ranked PTT Plc has 38%, said Yodpong Sutatham, Esso's retail sales manager for fuel marketing.
Esso-branded stations have dropped from nearly 600 nationwide in 1997 to 519 now, with 100 or so in Greater Bangkok.
Most are company-owned stations that perform reasonably well in terms of sales.
Esso has opened 16 new stations in the year to date. The original full-year target was 24 new stations, but Esso is pushing for 30.
"Getting the permit [for new stations] was very difficult in the first five months of this year due to the political situation," Mr Yodpong said.
Esso's average retail throughput per station rose to 475,000 litres a month in the second quarter this year from 463,000 in the first three months as political tensions eased.
Mr Yodpong said Esso hoped to strengthen its partnership with Family Mart.
"We find that our new dealer-owned stations want convenience stores with an established brand, and Family Mart fits the criteria," he said.
There are 10 Family Marts at Esso stations now, and the company expects to raise the total to 20 by next year.
"We plan to open 30 new Esso stations per year and expect half the new stations to include a Family Mart store," Mr Yodpong said.
Esso also has partnerships with Tesco Lotus and Lawson 108, in addition to Esso-owned Tiger Mart.
Beyond retail, Esso's business includes an upstream refinery complex with a feed capacity of 177,000 barrels a day, a paraxylene aromatics plant and a solvent production unit.
Mr Mongkolnimit said Esso might be interested in joining the 21st round of petroleum concession talks held by the new government, but further study is needed in terms of potential reserves and proposed revenue sharing with the state.
Shares of ESSO closed Friday on the SET at 5.85 baht, down five satang, in trade worth 14 million baht.