Driving changes in Kuwait's fuel stations TEY_post_Abdulhussain_Al_Sultan

The retail downstream sector can be improved by the private sector.

Abdulhussain AL SULTAN Chairman OULA

Driving changes in Kuwait’s fuel stations

April 20, 2023

Abdulhussain Al Sultan, chairman of Oula, talks to The Energy Year about improvements the company has made to its fuel stations and the role diversification plays in its growth strategy. Oula is a Kuwaiti company with a network of service stations which, in addition to fuel, provide customers with stores, car service and maintenance, and more.

What innovations has Oula implemented at its fuel stations?
Changing from fuel stations to modern service stations with state-of-the-art environmental systems like vapour recovery and other safety measures, as well as new, innovative payment systems that are good for individuals and companies, such as Oula Card and OulaE.

What is Oula’s strategy to increase its footprint in Kuwait?
We are currently running 43 fuel stations. Kuwait is expanding its urban sprawl in the north and south. New residential areas are being sketched that would involve the construction of 40,000 houses in the south and 50,000 houses in the north. Of course, inhabitants of these new cities will need fuel stations and our services. We believe the government will build 24 new stations in the north and 24 new ones in the south – and indeed we are interested in running a portion of those. I hope that in five years we can reach at least 15-20 new stations. We are working hard to get there.
Another part of our strategy is to improve the IT architecture within our company. Digitalisation will help us provide better services and enhance our performance.


What role does diversification play in Oula’s growth strategy?
Six years ago, we planned to increase non-fuel profits. Today, Oula’s non-fuel profits have increased from 5% to 35% due to value-added services such as car washes, c-stores and quick car services provided in renovated stations. We have also invested in real estate and the stock market. We are monitoring the rapid growth and development of electric vehicle businesses worldwide.
Also, we created two subsidiaries, providing fuel transport services for Oula service stations and other companies, and providing high-end detailing services for cars.

What added value can the private sector contribute within the Kuwaiti retail downstream sector?
When anyone visits the stations, they can see the difference between the governmental stations and the private ones. Oula has invested in a high-class architecture system, and we manage it with the highest quality possible. After all, our standards are constantly being monitored by KNPC. As a private sector company, we can also make decisions and execute them in a shorter amount of time. I believe that the retail downstream sector can be improved by the private sector. Not all the private sector projects in Kuwait may be able to succeed in principle, but in this field, we have certainly done a good job.
We have been able to reinvest our profits and renovate 80-85% of our stations in recent years, and all of this was done with the customers’ satisfactory experience in mind. That is the most important part for us.
In more than 15 years of experience, we have achieved a consistent 4-6% annual revenue rate of growth. The Kuwaiti market believes in us, and we grow with Kuwait.

How strategic are safety and environmental measures in the downstream retail segment?
Oula Fuel Marketing Company doubled its series of successes and crowned it this year by obtaining an award for fuel station management with the highest standards of quality and environmental safety and a six-star rating from KNPC, after receiving a five-star rating in 2015, as the first company in Kuwait to receive this award. This award is the result of the concerted and co-operative efforts of all departments in the company to translate the aspirations of the board of directors in their keenness to implement the highest possible standards of quality and environmental safety. This award represents a great incentive for us to continue managing and developing fuel stations and provide the latest distinguished services to our valued customers.

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