After Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany and Lithuania, the ORLEN Group will also open its service stations in Slovakia. The service station chain in Slovakia will operate under the Benzina brand, which had been present on the Slovak market for a few decades in the past.
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The first station will start operating under the new brand in late March or early April 2019 in Malacky, a town near the Slovak-Czech border. The chain will be developed through franchise cooperation with smaller service station operators or through acquisitions. The investment is a long-term one. In the first year of the Benzina brand’s presence in Slovakia, it will be possible to open up to ten stations, but the key determinant of the growth rate will be the business parameters adopted by the Company.
‘We are entering the Slovak fuel market as a seasoned international player. Today, products manufactured by the ORLEN Group refineries account for 20% of the total wholesale on the Slovak fuel market, which provides us with a solid starting point to also develop retail sales. We have chosen the Benzina brand, which enjoys recognition among two-thirds of Slovak motorists. Having established ourselves many years ago as the leader of the Czech market, with a solid and stable base, we can provide our Slovak customers with top quality services and products that meet their expectations. We want to draw on our knowledge and experience gained on several other markets to become a major player on the Slovak retail market within the next two or three years,’ said Daniel Obajtek, President of the PKN ORLEN Management Board.
There are currently about 900 service stations on the Slovak market, and nearly half of them are managed by the three largest operators. In Slovakia, ORLEN will primarily sell its own fuels, while its non-fuel offering will comprise both local products, as well as those from Poland and the Czech Republic. It is planned that the Slovak part of the Benzina chain will be on a par with its Czech counterpart in terms of product offering and service standard.
‘We are ready to acquire larger and smaller service station chains and offer small station operators a franchise-based cooperation on favourable terms. Obviously, prior to entering the Slovak market, we carried out various analyses and consumer research, which showed that customer expectations and behaviour in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are quite similar. In the recent years, Slovak motorists have been showing strong preference for quality fuels. They are also interested in the non-fuel offering, including food. We have well-proven solutions that worked in our Benzina service station chain in the Czech Republic and we intend to use them also in Slovakia,’ says Tomasz Wiatrak, Vice President of the Management Board, in charge of the retail business of the Unipetrol Group.
Surveys carried out among Slovak motorists show that 69% of them are interested in using the services of Benzina-branded stations. Of the 66% that recognise the brand, 54% consider it to be a quality station chain. According to the respondents, Benzina’s advantages include modernity (51%), an offering that meets customer expectations (40%), and uniqueness of the offering (26%).
Benzina returns to Slovakia after more than 30 years. The brand was created in 1953, in the then Czechoslovakia, replacing the original Benzinol logo introduced at service stations in 1949. The Benzinol brand was re-established in Slovakia in 1985. After 1989, Benzina was privatised and temporarily lost the right to use the brand in the Slovak market. Now Benzina is returning to Slovakia as the leader of the Czech market, where it operates 406 service stations and holds a nearly 25% share in fuel sales.
Benzina is part of the Unipetrol Group and runs the largest service station network in the Czech Republic. It is a traditional but at the same time modern brand, offering high quality fuels and services for customers. In addition to EFECTA fuels, which have cleaning properties, Benzina offers VERVA premium fuels and a wide range of food and beverages at the STOP CAFE outlets. Since October 2018, payments for fuel bought at Benzina stations can be made directly at the pump, using the Benzina Payments mobile application. The chain also has quick charging stations for electric cars – In Rousínov at the D1 motorway, in Ostrava-Zábřeh, in Pilsen-Borská Pole, and in Hradec nad Svitavou near the D35 motorway, which is currently under construction.