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Astron Energy signs new 10-year agreement with leading forecourt store offering FreshStop

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Leading fuel company Astron Energy has signed a 10-year partnership extension agreement with one of South Africa’s leading forecourt retail brands, FreshStop.

The deal sees Astron Energy, which operates a retail network of over 800 service stations in South Africa, continuing its 15-year journey with FreshStop, part of the Food Lover’s Market group of companies.

Astron Energy operates a network of Astron Energy and Caltex service stations. Currently, over 330 service stations feature a FreshStop, which house a number of on-the-go food offerings, as well as internationally renowned coffee brand Seattle Coffee Company at selected sites.

Astron Energy CEO Thabiet Booley said: “Our strategic alliance with FreshStop goes back to 2009 and we are pleased to extend this partnership for a further 10 years.”

“This signifies the trust and value we place in the FreshStop offering and also speaks to Astron Energy’s long-term commitment to investing in our network and the future of the country.”

“In Astron Energy and FreshStop we have two proudly South African brands looking to deliver exceptional service and rewarding experiences for consumers,” he added.

Brian Coppin, CEO of the Food Lover's Market Group, said, “Over the last 15 years, with an investment of over R830 million, the Freshstop brand has become synonymous with innovative 24-hour convenience. This continued winning partnership with Astron Energy will ensure that we can continue to grow our ever-expanding footprint, offering over 200 000 daily South African customers incredible value, variety and a world-class forecourt experience.”

FreshStop CEO Joe Boyle added, “We are delighted with the extended agreement. The partnership has seen the creation of 7,000 new jobs, and we’ve successfully established the Crispy Chicken, Sausage Saloon, Grill to Go and Seattle Coffee as popular food and beverage brands within our stores.”

Across its 330 stores, FreshStop boasts Seattle Coffee Company outlets at 126 stores, Crispy Chicken at 154, Grill-to-Go at 102, Fill A Kota at 42, Sausage Saloon at 22, and Manhattan Coffee at 23 stores.

FreshStop is one of South Africa’s leading forecourt retail brands, bringing 24-hour shopping convenience to forecourts.

Astron Energy, which operates the Caltex network under licence from Chevron, launched its new brand in late 2021 and rebranded the first of its over 800 sites in August 2022.

Astron Energy GM Retail and Marketing, Farouk Farista, said: “FreshStop is one of the stand-out features on the South African fuel retail landscape and we are committed to growing this partnership even further. This includes potentially refreshing or reimagining the look and feel of FreshStop at Astron Energy’s sites.”

According to Farista, sites featuring a FreshStop have seen significant returns in terms of revenue and traffic as a result of the prime convenience store offering.

Added Boyle: ”Our figures show that when a fuel forecourt store converts to the FreshStop brand, the franchisees experience growth in fuel volume, and the FreshStop brands experienced 60% on average per year compound growth in sales in the first ten years."

The 10-year extension agreement between Astron Energy and FreshStop is no longer exclusive and Farista said the fuel company was constantly looking at evolving trends and opportunities in the fuel retail space.

“We all understand that forecourts are evolving and will increasingly become one-stop centres of excellence and hyper convenience,” Farista said.

“We are continually exploring new strategic alliances in the forecourt retail space which offer new and rewarding experiences and bring additional value to our forecourts and our customers.

“At the same time, we are committed to building on those partnerships which have been important pillars in our success and which form part of our ambition to become the next biggest fuel brand in South Africa.”

Boyle added, “We are delighted to continue our long-standing partnership with the Astron Energy team for another ten years. As a leading player in the South African forecourt industry, we intend to maintain our market-leading position by prioritising our customers’ access to food and beverage convenience brands they trust when they are on the road, as well as delivering a safe and seamless forecourt experience every time.”

Farista concluded by saying: “Our evolving customer offering is designed to unlock further value in fuel, retail and beyond. All of this forms part of our approach of building properly and sustainably for the future and making Astron Energy service stations welcoming places with a real sense of belonging.”

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