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IOC draws up aggressive sales strategy

Our Bureau

New Delhi , June 1

INDIAN Oil Corporation (IOC)) has drawn up an aggressive marketing plan to face the challenge posed by private sectors in the petro-retailing sector. IOC will be shortly launching branded petrol stations and changing the visual identity of the stations.

By September end this year, IOC will launch 1,000 `Extra Branded' retail outlets whose fuel quality, quantity and services would be certified by renowned international agencies, according to IOC Director (marketing), Mr N.G. Kannan.

IOC is also changing the colour scheme of its petrol stations to `orange and blue' from the current rainbow colours. The new colour scheme, aimed at giving IOC pumps a distinct visual identity, would be on a special aluminium compound material. IOC hopes to take its total retail outlet strength beyond 10,000 by the year-end from the current 9,155.

"Our retail push not only includes constant monitoring of fuel quality and service at our pumps, but also a new visual identity which would help us stand apart from our competitors," Mr Kannan said.

The company has engaged the services of two advertising agencies to create a separate branding strategy for retailing oil and LPG. Its project to revamp the existing retail outlets under the sub-brand IndianOilXtra includes upgrading the outlets and providing additional facilities in terms of customer service.

In regard to the decision to merge IOC's subsidiary IBP Ltd with IOC itself, Mr Kannan said, "The merger of IBP with IOC will give additional impetus to take on competition."

According to Mr Kannan, IBP had been gaining retail petrol and diesel marketshare at the expense of other players like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL).

During 2003-04, IOC captured 34.3 per cent market share (33.7 per cent in 2003-04) while IBP cornered 9 per cent (7.8 per cent in 2002-03). In diesel sales, IOC has 38.4 per cent market share while IBP has 11.2 per cent.

Despite the fact that IOC has added 2,500 petrol stations in 2003-04, its sales per pump has increased. In April this year, IOC, on an average, sold 40 kilolitres (kl) per month of petrol and 149 kl per month of diesel. The corresponding figures for the previous fiscal were 40 kl of petrol and 129 kl of diesel per month.

Interestingly, the other players have registered a fall in sales per pump.

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