Home-grown is best, believes ABC. The Finnish service station network favours domestic eco-innovations in its product and service portfolio.
“Being Finnish is very important to us. We pay close attention to the selection of products we sell at our service stations. We especially value Finnish innovations - particularly with regard to fuels - because it takes special know-how and strong determination to develop them,” says ABC Business Development Manager Tiina Vehmala-Viksten.
One indication of the ‘Finnishness’ of ABC’s station network is the Key Flag symbol awarded for their services. The Key Flag symbol is awarded to services and products that are at least 50% Finnish in origin.
“The Key Flag symbol is proof of a significant percentage of Finnish labour input in a given service or product. It is not enough simply to say that you are Finnish — to gain the Key Flag symbol, you have to prove it."
UPM’s new BioVerno diesel fuel, soon to become part of the Smart Diesel sold by ABC, has also been awarded the Key Flag symbol. Another Key Flag fuel available at ABC service stations is EkoFlex E85, which is made from organic waste from the food industry.
“Our sourcing company is constantly working to improve the quality and environmental performance of our fuel products. UPM’s renewable diesel oil is a good example, as it reduces the emissions of our Smart Diesel fuel.
"ABC is owned by the Finnish retailing cooperative S-Group, for whom sustainable development is a key priority in all products and operations. The same goes for the ABC chain, which constantly develops technical solutions to make its service stations safer and more energy efficient. Among its recent improvements are new lighting solutions that reduce electricity consumption.
Customers are always interested in the origin of the products and services they buy, but where they stop to refuel ultimately depends on where they happen to be when it’s time for a top-up and the customer loyalty scheme to which they belong.
“The decisions people make in their everyday lives are usually quite rational. People are less keen to drive to a particular service station a little further away in order to buy a certain product or get a special price than is commonly assumed. After choosing where to refuel, the next important thing for the customer is trusting that the products on sale are of the highest quality,” she adds.
“In the end, it is the people who need the break more than the car. Today’s engines are more energy- efficient, and modern cars are able to cover more miles with fewer refuelling stops. Meanwhile, the sales volumes of fuel products are gradually falling — this is a common trend that can be seen across the market.”
Diesel on the grow
Vehmala-Viksten predicts diesel fuels will remain popular for years to come. “Diesel is the fuel that heavy vehicles run on, and diesel cars are very popular among people who drive a lot. I believe diesel will be around for a long time.” Important developments are set to take place in the near future with regard to the raw materials in diesel fuels.
“Today, we have more and more cars running on alternative sources of energy instead of the traditional fossil-based fuels. We need to provide services and fuel for the drivers of those cars, too,” she adds. ABC’s network comprises 437 stations, 136 of which are service stations. The rest are self-service refuelling points.
“Our sourcing company is constantly working to improve the quality and environmental performance of our fuel products.”