Lihle Z Mtshali
It is a R6,6billion business with an annual growth rate of 26percent and consumers have deserted traditional corner cafes in its favour.
The concept of service station convenience stores, or forecourt C-stores as they are known in the industry, was first introduced in South Africa some 15 years ago.
Nyasha Mugadza, BP's national convenience manager, said: "Research shows forecourt stores are fast developing into trendy outlets offering good, readily available food and beverages 24 hours a day and becoming even more popular than traditional convenience shops."
According to Mugadza, convenience shopping is one of the drivers spurring the franchising boom. Forecourt C-stores contribute almost half of the franchise sector's total revenue.
There are 182 BP service stations that have a BP Express shop. Also housed within selected BP Express shops is the Wild Bean Café, BP's coffee and food outlet.
All the BP Express sites are franchised and this includes the entire package. BP does not, for example, franchise the Wild Bean Café on its own.
With 520 Quick Shops in its network, Engen currently has the highest number of forecourt C-stores, with 16 of these having been opened this year.
Sasol has the second widest network of forecourt C-stores, with 397 Sasol Delight and Exel Franchised service stations and Exel dealer-owned service stations countrywide.