Industry Middle East Magazine hears from David Kalife, CEO of Oman Oil Marketing Company.

May 10, 2018 in Energy

In your own words, please give me an overview of what OOMCO does and the different business units? Oman Oil Marketing

Formed in October 2003, Oman Oil Marketing Company has established itself as a leader in the Sultanate’s fuel marketing sector by providing customers with superior customer experiences at the highest international standards.

Oman Oil Marketing core business involves:

  • Marketing of fuel
  • Direct (bulk) fuel sales to Government and Commercial sectors
  • Shop, Food and Services attached to the company service stations
  • Lubricants Sales
  • Aviation refueling
  • Marine refueling
  • Storage and distribution

The business units are at the core of the Company’s continuous growth and success. In support of the corporate long-term objectives, these business units continue to offer significant efficiencies to the overall strategy whilst adhering to the best international practices as well as innovating through more and better goods / services.

What is the history of the company and how has it grown and evolved?

Oman Oil Marketing was launched in October 2003, along with its new brand identity, when Oman Oil Company acquired shares of BP Oman in December 2003. Today, it is the only 100 percent Omani owned fuel marketing company, 49% of which is owned by Oman Oil Company and the rest by various  shareholders. Oman Oil Marketing does not market fuels solely but also a wide range of products and services as described above.

How has OOMCO become so diverse in its range of services and how much of a challenge is this to maintain quality?

Quality services is among other advantages what makes OOMCO different from other competitors. We believe in diversifying services and exceeding customer expectations while leading the market through introducing new services like the two side pumps at our service station, mobile container for commercial customers, Ultimax is a new fuel (98 octane) offered only by OOMCO, original partnership within our convenience stores Ahlain, new goods… We were the first Marketer opening three solar service stations in the past months while targeting six by this year end.

There is much more to come and we have muscled up our Marketing and Digital teams with 7 dedicated professionals in 2018: being customer-centric is core to OOMCO. 

Quality of goods and services is a primary target, a leitmotiv for OOMCO. We have a continuous improvement process while spending no effort to audit and monitor our offer through two main methodologies. We have contracted a mystery motorist to check the quality of the offered services where the management carefully revises the received report and lay the plans to improve our offer of goods and services. Also, we have developed a quality assurance unit responsible for the quality of company operations at all levels and ensure that the level of quality is always at the highest.

Have there been any key moments in the company history?

Yes, below are some of the Key Moments in OOMCO historically;

  • Launch of Oman Oil Lubricant in 2013
  • Celebration of 10 Years anniversary of OOMCO in 2013.
  • Entry of OOMCO brand into the Kingdom of Saudi Area (KSA) in the fuel retail sector
  • OOMCO was awarded four ISO certificates on 2015.

Where are you located and how many sites/service stations do you own?

We are located across the country as we have over 200 service stations all over Oman. We are also expanding regionally through opening our first service station in KSA in the second half of 2018 following being qualified by the government of KSA to operate in the fuel marketing sector.

Are you currently in the process of opening anymore service stations this year or have you opened any in the last 6 months?

Yes, we do have plans to carry on our strategy of quality expansion. We believe not only to be very close to our customer, but also to offer “one stop stations” where customers can find diversified products and services. We are ready to reinvent the concept of service station as a destination: our objective is to delight all customers and leave a joyful memory for each of them while enjoying our warmth and proximity in all meanings.

In the last 6 months we have opened 7 service stations and we are leading here also the market which demands such original concept as we uniquely offer.

Who and where are your customers?

We are happy and proud to serve all customer segments. We have so various and different customers in all society sectors and we are working in B2C as well as B2B thus demonstrating our managing complexity and customer centric culture, beyond simple care. Our customers are located in Oman and across the globe while we export Oman Oil Lubricants to 9 countries. We are expanding our footprint in the region and reach onto other international markets. We will operate our first service station in KSA this year and explore new opportunities in other countries while targeting sustainability always for the good of our shareholders, customers and colleagues. Carrying proudly the name of the Sultanate also means more duties towards all: we define OOMCO as a responsible Marketer.

How did the economic downturn affect business?

Many businesses in the region have been impacted by the economic downturn in recent years, Oman Oil Marketing Company has similarly experienced a decline in the retail market which is also related to the gap in the pump price with stations in the United Arab Emirates. That said, our sales volume for retail fuel witnessed growth in 2017 based on the several business initiatives that have been well executed through adding more outlets than any competitor and developing our Shop, Food and Services concepts. We believe our innovations will lead us to success and impact favourably the industry.

The Business to Business (B2B) eg Commercial, Lubricants, Fuel cards, etc… have all experienced some growth though little as related to the delay of some key Government projects. Also B2B as a whole has suffered from long delays in payment and deteriorating financial health of some partners which we supported all along.

What quality accreditations does the company possess?

OOMCO have been certified four Management system standards in 2015; ISO9001:2015 (Quality Management System), ISO14001:2015 (Environmental Management System), OHSAS18001:2007 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System) and ISO27001:2013 (Information Security Management System).

How many employees are there? What role does staff training play? Is this done in-house or externally?

We have 268 employees and an Omanization rate of 84%. We believe on growing our employees’ skills through soundness training programs. We start by skill gap analysis done by line managers to all employees then we transform the skill gap analysis report into yearly training programs. While some training programs are executed by specialized training institutes we have also created our own Training Academy with both external and internal speakers: no one knows our job, challenges and the needs of our people better than we do. We also started online training programs whenever deemed efficient for our colleagues.

Which business units are performing best at present and which offer most growth potential?

We plan developing in all fields, priorities depend on the level of market potential, internal maturity, strategic vision and returns for shareholders. Through delivering on those projects Oman Oil Marketing Company feels proud enriching our colleagues’ experience and adding new skills leading to a more diverse career path within OOMCO and, eventually, a greater efficiency internally and externally for the Sultanate.

What is the regulatory environment like? Is this helping you to gain new business?

There have been many changes in the fuel retailing regulatory environment since 2016 started with lifting up the Government subsidy at the fuel retail pump price then followed up with introduction of Mogas M91 which was shifted from Mogas M90. In March 2018, the retail margin for the Fuel Marketers (Oman Oil, Shell & Al Maha) witnessed sharp decrease as result of shift of the fuelling depot from Mina Al Fahal (MAF) which use to be operated by the Fuel Markets to Al Jifnain which is operated by Oman Refinery Petrochemical Companies (ORPIC).

Those changes have very significant negative impact on the financials of each fuel Marketer. We have voiced our concern as an important industry in the country with a lot of stakeholders. We want to sustain for the good of the country which we no longer can at the same level.

What commitment to solar energy is the company offering? Is it just for your service stations or other parts of the business to?

As part of its commitment to deploy sustainable and clean energy at its operations, Oman Oil Marketing Company is the first Fuel Marketing company to install Photovoltaic Solar Panels at three of its service stations in Burj Al Sahwa, Nimr Service Station and Halban Service Station. Fitted on the rooftop of canopies, the panels will generate 40KWp. The plan is to start with the service station then to explore the possibility of applying the same to other businesses. This latest initiative joins a long list of environment preservation practices adopted by Oman Oil Marketing Company. In addition, energy is conserved at forecourts with LED lights that cut power consumption by over 40% and decrease our carbon footprint: OOMCO is going green.

What are the main challenges within each market you serve in terms of competition, use of technology, quality standards, etc.?

What are the main operational challenges and how do you overcome these?

The Retail business in Oman operate based on Dealer Owned Dealer Operated (DODO) business model in which the landowner owns the land and possess the ownership of the fuel operating licence. In order to provide a better quality of goods / services and a closer control on the business operations at the site to the benefits of all stakeholders, Oman Oil Marketing Company has introduced a different operating model namely “Dealer Owned Company Operated” (DOCO) which operates in a third of our whole retail network. Through DOCO, our company has overcome many of the challenges facing the DODO retail operation model while even innovating faster than before; we are also closer to our customers while listening to them when servicing them and answering them on the very site which we operate by ourselves!

What is your thoughts on the Vision 2021 for GCCs Retail Fuel Industry? Has this made the company change it strategy to become even more successful?

We at Oman Oil Marketing Company have a clear Vision and we do believe in our mission while delighting all customers: not only are we listening to their needs but also their wants. We are designing a new customer journey with enhanced experiences as well as original ones. We have recruited a whole team of experts in Marketing and Digital: we consider those functions as strategic and we are managing in-house as part of our own dedication process.

We want to become the most customer-centric Marketer in GCC: among other initiatives we have set up a fully modern Customer Care Center with several professionals at your service from 8 am to 5pm in working days, and even during weekends / public holidays from 8 am to 5 pm to receive customers calls as well as customer orders and queries.

Our new motto exemplifies that customer focus: “Oman Oil Marketing: You trust. We care.”

After the exclusive panel discussion on the Vision 2021 for GCCs Retail Fuel Industry what was the outcome? Has it allowed for any new opportunities within the industry?

The retail fuel industry is aiming to focus into more SFS income generated services, adapt to the solar and Electronic Vehicle (EV) shift that has been realised globally. We want our customers to get engaged with us more than with any other company: beyond simply caring for them, we want them to feel pampered through our warmth and proximity. They will get delighted through new benefits and innovations: we want them to leave with a joyful memory, missing us and coming back with a large smile!

We are reinventing the concept of mere “gas stations” into fully fledged and innovative “service stations” by Oman Oil Marketing. Exclusively and proudly, for the benefits of all customers.

What investments have you made over the past 12-18 months?

When do you expect to realise a return?

In 2017, OOMCO opened 8 new sites (NTI) and fully revamped / upgraded another 3 existing sites. As part of our new SFS strategy and innovating for the public in fuel and non-fuel, Oman Oil Marketing Company added new goods and services including the introduction of our “Ahlain Café” as well as many Quick Service Restaurants, Car Washes… All new services are expected to deliver a return while bringing more and better benefits to our beloved customers.

We plan opening even more service stations in 2018 while leading the retail market again. Do stay tune: there is so much more to come! In OOMCO we do not believe in “More or Better” rather in “More and Better”!

Was the launch of the M98 Ultimax Fuel a success? Can you tell me more about this investment?

Yes, it has been a success to date with Ultimax available in our service stations only. This investment and Innovation brought by Oman Oil Marketing Company has been decided for two reasons: first, to continue differentiating OOMCO from competitors by pioneering this performance fuel at our service stations exclusively and second, to meet new demand for this kind of fuel required by a specific customer segment without being available in Oman. As a customer centric company, we aim to continuously surpass the expectations of our loyal customers but also new ones by providing latest goods and relentlessly introducing innovations. We are experts in what we do as a Marketer.

ULTIMAX is a high performance unleaded fuel with a high octane number of 98.  It is available at four services station currently which is Mazoon Street Service Station, Boucher Service Station, Halban Expressway Service Station, Gala Expressway Service Station and in many more Oman Oil Marketing service stations soon. Motorists are now able to enjoy a premium unleaded fuel which improves engine performance and protects the engine, at last with Ultimax!