Our guest speaker this week was Chris Durno, formerly of OPUS, the London Underground, and Kiwirail, and now chief strategist at Z Energy, where he has been for seven years. He is a personable Canterbury-trained engineer and therefore can turn his hand to anything, including finance, marketing and branding.
Z is a dominant player and heavily invested, in the fuels industry. It imports, refines (via Marsden Point), stores, distributes and sells about 45% of fuels used in New Zealand. It has an unrivalled network of service stations, now including Caltex. It is going to great lengths to make its core business as efficient as possible.
Z is in a sector that has changed little in the last 100 years. The auto industry has traditionally been closely tied to the oil fuel sector. But change is coming: there is a drive towards renewable energy and electric vehicles. By the late 2020s EVs will be as cheap to buy and cheaper to run than internal combustion types. By 2040, 50% of annual sales and 40% of the national fleet will be EVs.
So the problem facing Z is that the demand for oil fuel, its core product, is falling. Fuel sales peaked in 2018 and have now entered a period of steady decline.
Z’s response is twofold: to increase its share of the declining fuel market, and to invest in new products and services outside its traditional core business.
Z will, for example, sell more coffee and give quicker service to forecourt customers. The ‘customer experience’ will improve.
More importantly, Z will start to invest outside its current position. Targets are ‘future fuels’, (biofuels, fuel cells etc), electricity trading (Z has bought Flick), and ‘mobility as a service’. Presumably the latter includes ridesharing and autonomous vehicles.
Z will have to reinvent itself to survive. This is a big challenge and they will face stiff competition from new and specialist players. Good luck!
Here is the pdf of Chris's presentation. Z_Energy_9-7-19