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Oil companies fuelling a change

Fuel pumps would no longer be selling only fuel.

They would sell anything from flowers to books to provisions and mobile recharge coupons soon.

Gone are the days when they catered to the fuel needs of the motorists alone and that too from the ill-lit and shabbily set up units.

With the waves of liberalisation sweeping the country and private players entering the field, which was once the monopoly of government companies, the fuel dispensing business has changed forever. Till now, the value-added services that one could obtain from the pumps were a free tyre pressure check-up and a few glasses of cold water. Some added a musical touch to the business by playing popular cinema music.The fuel dispensing units are changing — in looks and services offered to motorists as well as the general public.

Provision of ATMs and kiosks selling milk are the most visible forms of ‘extra’ facilities provided some of the bunks run by the Indian Oil Corporation in the city and suburbs. The IOC has already signed an MoU with Federal Bank to locate ATMs at several places.

The first of its kind was recently inaugurated at the IOC retail outlet by K.R. Sureshkumar, general manager (retail sales) of the corporation. Federal Bank is expected to set up ATMs in 11 IOC petrol bunks immediately, of which five will be in Kochi.

This is part of a strategy to provide value-added service to customers and also enlarge the non-fuel business, explains V.R. Menon, senior divisional retail sales manager of the IOC.

Milk booths

The IOC also recently opened a booth of MILMA at a petrol bunk at Udayamperoor. Mr A.M.K. Sinha, executive director of the IOC inaugurated the booth. MILMA booths are present at 26 petrol bunks of the IOC all over Kerala.

Provision of milk booths at the petrol bunks will help the public to buy milk and milk products even at odd hours, explains an official. The IOC has also set up a state-of-the-art public convenience facility (toilet block) at Udayamperoor bunk. The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) has come up with a project to offer a wide range of services from its fuel dispensing units.

Food outlets, convenience stores, ATMs, vehicle care centres dealing with spares and services, gift shops, medical shops…all are provided by the HPCL at their outlets.

For purchasing medicine, you need not rush to the chemist located near some hospitals. The corporation also plans to operate medical shops from its outlets.

Flowers, books, mobile recharge coupon centres, super markets, public call offices and travel agencies will soon function from the units of the corporation.

K.S. Sudhi

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