The ORLEN Group is set to launch seven new service stations in Slovakia, as a next step towards expanding its business presence on the Slovak market, where the Company already enjoys a place among major wholesale fuel suppliers. Since Slovakia is seen by PKN ORLEN as a promising retail market, its investments there are of a long-term nature.
“In Slovakia we have established a strong position on the wholesale fuel market. Over 30 refinery and petrochemical products made by the ORLEN Group are also marketed in Slovakia. Our long-standing track record in business and a good understanding we have gained of the Slovak market provide a solid foundation for building our retail capabilities there. We are starting with several locations, but our ambition for the next two to three years is to grow into a one of key service station operators. The retail presence we want to build in Slovakia will be a long-term one, representing a major stepping stone in the ORLEN Group’s expansion across Central Europe,” says Daniel Obajtek, President of the PKN ORLEN Management Board.
Slovakia is the fifth country after Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany and Lithuania where the ORLEN Group has established retail operations. Since the first half of 2019 there is one pilot Benzina-branded service station operating on the Slovak market, which fulfilled business objectives. The new outlets will occupy premises taken over from one former operator, refurbished to deliver excellent customer service and a broad selection of non-fuel products. The new service stations are expected to launch operations as part of the ORLEN Group’s Slovak retail chain within the coming weeks. The transaction is conditional on clearance from the Slovak antitrust authority. There are currently about 900 service stations on the Slovak market, nearly half of them managed by the three largest operators.
It is expected that the Slovak offshoot of the ORLEN Group’s chain will be on a par with its Czech counterpart in terms of product offering and service standard. The outlets will offer a wide range of EFECTA and VERVA fuels, as well as food and beverage products served at Stop Cafés. Non-fuel products distributed by the Slovak chain will be sourced from local as well as Polish and Czech producers.
“Initially, we have focused on negotiations to lease or take over existing locations, but in future we may also build greenfield projects, including self-service stations. We have said that ten service stations in Slovakia by the end of this year is an achievable target, and we are well on track. This said, a key determinant of our expansion pace will be the adopted business criteria,” explains Tomasz Wiatrak, President of the Management Board of Unipetrol, the ORLEN Group’s Czech subsidiary.
Surveys carried out among Slovak motorists show that 69% of them are interested in the services of Benzina-branded stations.
Benzina is back to Slovakia after 15 years. The brand dates back to 1953, in what was then Czechoslovakia. After 1989, Benzina in Slovakia was privatised. Now the brand is returning to Slovakia as the leader of the Czech market, where ORLEN Group operates 413 service stations and holds a nearly 24% share in retail fuel sales.
Benzina is part of the Unipetrol Group, running the largest service station network in the Czech Republic. It is a brand combining tradition with modernity, offering high quality fuels and services for customers. In addition to EFECTA fuels with cleaning properties, Benzina offers VERVA fuels as well as a wide range of food & beverage products at its Stop Cafe outlets. Since October 2018, payments for fuel bought at Benzina stations can be made directly at the pump, using the Benzina Payments mobile application. The chain also has fast charging points for electric vehicles.