Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Commerce, Science & Technology, fills up at the pump of Total's first official service station launched on Friday at the National Heroes Circle. Looking on are (left) managing director for Total Jamaica, Luc Maiche and Dr. Paul Roberston, Minister of Development in the Office of the Prime Minister.
-Norman Grindley photo
Susan Smith, Staff Reporter
TOTAL JAMAICA Limited launched operations at its National Heroes Circle gas station on Friday, the first of 21 stations to be refurbished and re-branded over the next 12 months.
Total Jamaica Ltd. purchased National Fuels and Lubricant's (NFL's) network of stations in April 2004. NFL was created 10 years ago and achieved a nine per cent market share of the gasolene business based on an aggressive pricing policy.
"Total is in Jamaica because of the open business environment in this country and that has made it attractive to an international company such as ours," said Luc Maiche, managing director, Total Jamaica. "This station will set the example of the upgraded service that will be the hallmark for our locations across the island. 'Total: you know where to turn' is our motto."
A subsidiary of Total, the French-based multinational energy company, the local operation aims to distinguish itself with the quality of its products and its services. Total will use its worldwide experience in the marketing of petroleum products to bring new choices to the Jamaican customer.
The company hopes to increase the number of stations to more than 30 by the end of 2005. However, Mr. Maiche told Sunday Business that the company may have to pause for a while
with the building of new service stations in year 2005 until the completion of the refurbishing.
He said the refurbishing exercise was very capital intensive and could make year 2005 financially challenging. Mr. Maiche declined to give a monetary figure on the projected expenditure for the refurbishing and acquisitions of the service stations when asked by Sunday Business.
Mr. Maiche said he planned to make Total's presence felt in the Jamaican market. "Total oil group is unknown to Jamaica so we will work positively towards making it known," he said. "Our goal is to be recognised for excellent service. We have competitive prices because National was like that and we will start from there. We want to have the best service in the country so we will work very hard for service."
To ensure quality service is given, Total will also invest in the training of the staff it inherited from National. Their skills will be upgraded to meet Total's standards.
Total has also partnered with Tropical Battery to offer its customers complete service in vehicle maintenance.
According to Mr. Maiche, the company plans to become an active participant in maintaining and educating its customers on road safety in Jamaica. Total is the world's fourth largest petroleum company and is present in over 120 countries. The Total Jamaica Limited management team includes David Harrison, operations manager, Wahid Ben Aoun, marketing manager and Wayne Brown, chief accountant.
Among the special guests present at the launch were: Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Commerce, Science & Technology; Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Victor Cummings; and managing director of the National Commercial Bank, Aubyn Hill.