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Business

Still rising

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

Back in 2002, a young entrepreneur by the name of Dennis Uy established an oil company in Davao City with a dream of becoming a major player in the country’s petroleum industry.

In 2005, Cebu Pacific became its first customer, with then Davao Oil Terminal Services Corp. (DOTSCO) providing the rising airline the lease of a storage tank, and later plane services, eventually becoming the airline company’s exclusive logistics provider and major fuel supplier in Mindanao.

The same year, DOTSCO ventured into retail by opening its first five gas stations in Davao and other parts of Mindanao, and introducing the Phoenix Fuels Life brand.

Thae following year, the company was renamed Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. which in 2006 added lubricants to its product line and was targeting to grow to 20 stations by the end of that year, all in southern Mindanao.

Then in 2007, Phoenix listed on the stock exchange to become the first oil company to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange after the passage of the Oil Deregulation Law in 1998. This of course was a signal of much bigger things to come.

In 2008, Phoenix opened its very first Luzon station in Marikina which was its 75th station nationwide. The next year, it entered Visayas with its first station in Cebu. By the end of 2009, it already had 120 stations around the country. It also acquired a 60-hectare industrial park in Batangas, where its largest terminal facility was to operate and which would later be known as the Phoenix Petroterminals and Industrial Park.

All this was achieved in a span of six years.

Then in 2011, Phoenix inaugurated its most modern terminal facility in Cagayan de Oro. Together with other terminals and depots in key islands nationwide, the oil company had the largest storage capacity among local independent oil companies. Its retail network that year expanded to 220 stations.

In 2012 or in 10 years, it grew to 300 retail stations and became the leading independent oil player in the Philippines.

And the company kept on growing.

By 2014, it opened its 418th station. Two years later, this grew to 505 stations nationwide and for the first time, Phoenix reached the P1-billion mark in net income in 2016.

In 2020, Phoenix Petroleum entered the seemingly impenetrable top three in the oil industry when it became the country’s third biggest in terms of fuel market share. That year, Chevron Philippines, which used to be the third largest for so many years, slid to fifth place. Petron Corp. led with 24.88 percent, followed by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. with 18.25 percent, and Phoenix with 6.86 percent. Fourth was Unioil with 6.48 percent and fifth, Chevron with 6.13 percent. That year, Phoenix already had 660 service stations all over the archipelago.

Two decades since it was born in Davao City, this oil company seems still unstoppable and all geared up to improve its operating performance and rising to a challenging business environment.

According to company officials, Phoenix is intensifying its penetration into new markets with domestic expansion, growing further its resilient business-to-business segment, introducing product innovations, and boosting its digital presence.

The company is banking on strong household consumption and economic recovery that are driving its growth, particularly in the resilient LPG business that captured higher volume growth and retail sales and in overseas trading.

For its LPG business, Phoenix was able to sustain its growth and even expanded its domestic footprint nationwide. The company’s canister business captured 32 percent of its total volume in Luzon from a mere five percent prior to its LPG business acquisition while the canister business in the Visayas-Mindanao area is also on an uptrend.

Phoenix Petroleum president Bong Fadullon attributed the improving performance to continued efforts across its businesses and diversified portfolio which saw strong support from its partners and customers.

Fadullon also pointed to the company’s commitment to prudent management of resources and cost discipline and in bringing the best services and product offering to its communities to address the evolving customer needs.

It has retained its rank as the third-biggest oil player in the country from recent market data of the Department of Energy.

The company now operates close to 700 retail outlets nationwide and has expanded to other businesses including terminalling and hauling services, asphalt, car repair and maintenance, Family Mart convenience stores, and digital transactions through the Limitless App. Its brands include Phoenix gas stations, lubricants and fuel products with Phoenix Pulse Technology, Phoenix Super LPG Hub, and Autoworx Plus branches.

Phoenix also has overseas presence in Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

***

Phoenix is banking on its digital presence, active management of inventories and resilience of its businesses to further improve its business performance and is believed to be positioned for a stronger business to better serve customers.

It is widening its customer touchpoints with its strong digital solutions and sustaining its portfolio growth with its solid overseas trading and resilient domestic businesses nationwide.

Phoenix has opened three new stations in Metro Manila and its very first station along NLEX in December last year as part of the NLEX Drive&Dine. It also expanded its FamilyMart network of convenience retailing with additional locations in Baguio City, Cebu City and its newest stores in Davao.

Meanwhile, the tieup of Phoenix Petroleum and e-Tap Solutions Inc. has strengthened the former’s digital solutions through its Limitless App, providing customers a wide range of options including self-service payment machines across its retail sites and stores nationwide. Under the partnership, e-Tap will install new machines at 70 FamilyMart stores and Phoenix stations this year.

Phoenix vice president for integrated marketing and strategies Maria Celina Matias explained that they have stepped up their digital solutions through their Limitless App to make Phoenix sites one-stop-shop destinations for varying needs of their customers.

Phoenix’s Limitless app enables consumers to purchase products and avail of services in any participating Phoenix gas station, FamilyMart stores, Phoenix Super LPG hub, and Autoworx Plus branches and other merchant partners nationwide. In addition, it allows customers to earn rewards, discounts, and donate to communities and other causes using their earned points, including programs of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundations such as child welfare (Bantay Bata 163), environment protection (Bantay Kalikasan), disaster risk reduction and relief operations (Sagip Kapamilya), education (Programa Genio), and community development empowerment (Integrated Area Development).

Unfortunately, the company last year incurred a P462-million net loss, but its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization or EBITDA increased by 41 percent which officials attributed to the solid performance of its LPG business, consistent volume growth in its commercial and overseas sales, and recovering retail volume.

Fadullon noted that the company’s operating income went up by 87 percent as it delivered double-digit sales growth.

Inspite of new challenges and emerging geopolitical risks that drive volatility in global oil prices, the company noted that it was benefitting from strong domestic volume from its improving quarterly retail performance and new LPG canister business.

This year has its own set of challenges but Phoenix believes that its business fundamentals are strong enough to allow the company to continue rising.

 

 

 

For comments, e-mail at [email protected]

DENNIS UY

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