Z Energy is New Zealand's newest petroleum retailer and has fast become the most preferred, recommended and trusted.
The locally owned and operated business is responsible for 65 million customer transactions and the distribution of 2.6 billion litres of fuel annually. In the past year, it has rolled out its new Z brand with great success: it is achieving superior returns, generating positive media coverage and leading public and policy discussions on the direction of the industry.
Z's key financial ratios improved in 2012, with return on average capital employed climbing to 9.8 per cent, up from 7.8 per cent, while recording double digit growth in EBITDAF for the second year running. Operating EBITDAF, sales volumes and costs were all within forecast range.
Confidence in the company is clearly growing. The business is now valued at $1.3 billion and over 6,000 New Zealand investors have committed over $430 million to the company through three successful retail bond issues.
Z says its competitive advantage lies with the values underlying the new brand - to put the customer first, to be straight up, to innovate and to be part of the local community.
In November, Z began rolling out its new brand to all service stations and truck stops throughout the country. As of March, it had completed 150 retail sites and 50 truck stops - by the end of July the entire network of 208 retail service stations and 94 truckstops had been safely rebranded - on time and on budget.
By the time the rollout was complete, 36,000 cubic metres of old Shell signage was recycled, 20,700 new signage items manufactured, 14 kilometres of fascia panels and 100,000 LED lights installed, 936 separate container movements coordinated; altogether requiring more than 87,000 man hours from 3,500 local contractors.
Z, in keeping with its commitment to being a truly local New Zealand-owned and operated company, employed local contractors to carry out the site refits; benefitting individual communities rather than one, larger centrally located contractor.
Despite the brand rollout not being complete at the point of application, independent brand tracking has already shown Z rates at least 50 per cent higher than any other competitor when it comes to engagement with the community. Z is also consistently generating up to 20 times more positive media coverage than any other competitor and now has some 85,000 friends on Facebook, making it one of New Zealand's most popular corporate sites and a vehicle for unprecedented conversations within the energy sector.
In conjunction with the new brand rollout, Z has entirely revamped its customer service. The company reintroduced guaranteed forecourt service at every single site between 10 am and 5 pm daily. If this service is not provided, customers are entitled to free coffee or Flybuys points.
Every staff member - some 2,500 employees - received "Z factor" training; a full day of face-to-face training in customer service. Further, 500 staff received three days training on delivering good food and coffee services.
The store refits, new food and coffee offerings, including - cupcakes, kiwi pies and special blend espresso coffee - appear to be paying off. Customer satisfaction after a site visit has increased to 70 per cent compared with just 49 per cent under the former Shell operation). A new $10 million point of sale system is set to improve Z service further, with transaction times reduced to around three seconds per customer.
Z is committed to innovation throughout its business. Through its relationship with EROAD, it last year developed Z Fuelwise - an integrated technology-based, end-to-end fuel management system to help its larger commercial customers manage their demand and fuel supply. Some had been losing up to 5 million litres of diesel per annum.
EROAD started out seeking to modernise New Zealand's Road User Charge regime by moving away from paper to a GPS/cellular product. It has since developed a suite of web-based services that monitor fuel consumption, driver compliance, fleet maintenance and road safety. Z is able to show its large customers which vehicle is filling up where, by how much and by which driver.
Z is also helping those same customers reduce their emissions. It is now offering "Z DEF", a New Zealand-made diesel additive that works with Selective Catalytic Reduction technology of modern trucks. This has the ability to cut up to 85 per cent of nitrous oxide exhaust emissions.
Z has committed itself to reducing fuel use by its customers. It has been working with EECA to increase everyday fuel efficiency, such as promoting the benefits of properly inflated tyres to customers.
Within the business itself, Z's distribution team aims to reduce travel distances by 15 per cent by 2015, and all account managers who travel for work are currently driving hybrids. As leases expire, Z's entire fleet will switch to hybrids.
Z is also leading conversation and debate around important issues in the petroleum sector and the wider energy industry.
It has joined the National Energy Research Institute to help advance research into New Zealand's energy strategy and future, and in the past year has been raising its concerns around fuel infrastructure and supply contingency within government.
During the period under review the company also commissioned three new 10 million litre fuel storage tanks at Port Lyttelton. The $25 million investment has helped improve fuel supply in Canterbury.
The Overall Energy Company of the Year Award category is sponsored by Port Taranaki.