In full escalation of fuel prices, Petroprix, the largest network of low cost gas stations without franchise in Spain, doubled its turnover last year, up to 700 million euros in sales at its 131 gas stations throughout the country. The first independent Spanish operator is now preparing its internationalization, which involves extending its low-cost quality fuel model to Latin America and Europe.
"The circumstances we have experienced in the last year have not been easy. The rise in prices forced us to adjust margins to the maximum to contain the rise for the consumer, and this is something that drivers have valued every time they came to refuel, "explained Manuel Santiago, CEO of Petroprix, when presenting the company's strategic plan at its headquarters, in Martos (Jaén).
Last year, Petroprix exceeded 2022 million euros in turnover in 700, twice as much as in 2021. And this in a year that was marked by the rise in fuel prices in Spain, which accelerated in February after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These figures were a record coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the company. In addition, the Andalusian firm registered more than 20 new openings in that community, Madrid, Castilla y León, Galicia, the Basque Country, Valencia and the Canary Islands.
Petroprix will begin operations in Portugal later this year, and in Chile and Panama in 2024. The company already has its own Expansion, Technical and Administration department in Portugal, managed from the headquarters in Lisbon. The goal is to reach 50 openings in that country by 2025. Thus, the company expects to enter in a few years with great force in the markets of both continents and become a reference company at an international level. "Portugal is the first step of our company to grow outside of Spain. We do not rule out exporting our model in a few years to other European countries to continue growing internationally, "said the president of the Jaén firm.
One reason to begin its expansion in Latin America is to increase the degree of limited competition that exists in these markets for the benefit of consumers, according to Santiago. In this sense, the global crisis in fuel prices mainly affects Chile, since it imports all the oil it consumes, and is the country in the world where the cost of filling a tank rose the most, according to the British company Drivelectric. For its part, the Panamanian Government is carrying out a policy of limiting fuel prices in the face of rising prices due to the lack of competition in the distribution sector.
In all these countries Petroprix wants to replicate the business model it has in Spain: automatic gas stations with its own technology that are between 10 and 20 cents cheaper than the traditional model. In this way, Petroprix has become one of the brands that present better prices in fuels, providing savings of between 270 and 320 euros, according to data provided by the Consumer Organization (OCU). The new stations will be equipped with at least four pumps that will offer both gasoline 95 and diesel and will have multifunctional additives that increase the performance and cleanliness of the engine.
From the company they point out that the low prices are the result of the lower cost structure it has. Petroprix stations are located in small plots, on the outskirts of cities where land is cheaper. In addition, they do not put a store in the stations and centralize all the development so that it is 100% their own, with areas of manufacture and design of the stations at their headquarters in Martos. "All this allows us to save costs when undertaking new projects by transferring these savings directly to the consumer," said Santiago.
Santiago, who is a Telecommunications Engineer, had spent half his life working for multinationals (Valeo, General Electric) until, together with his wife, María José Morales, an industrial engineer, he decided to undertake the business adventure. Before Petroprix they created Avansolar, a company that builds and manages renewable plants until this niche ceased to be profitable. And that's where the idea of launching into the low-cost gas station business arose. Gas stations without employees, without stores that sold oranges or car wash service, but that offered better prices to customers and, above all, a lot of speed thanks to their own software.
Users take, from the moment they enter until they leave, about two and a half minutes to refuel and pay, according to an internal study. The fuel comes from the same refineries where the large multinationals are supplied so, he says, there is no difference in quality.
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