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Alister McGill | Contract Manager

Contract Manager

Providing insights into the forecourt world

Alister McGill


Alister McGill has had first hand experience of being a Contract Manager, having “worked” for Murco Petroleum which is now part of Motor Fuels (MFG).

Alister took over a site in January 2007 and despite turning around a failing site and growing fuel sales from 41000 litres/week and shop sales of £8000/week to 60000 litres and £15000/week respectively at a pre recession peak in 2008.

To start with he was given a relatively free hand as he restored the site’s fortunes but then he felt the squeeze. A 12+% increase in rent (facility Charge as Murco called it) in 2009, even though sales had begun to decline due to the recession and the increase in intensity of the competitiveness of nearby supermarkets, was only the start. Price controls, ridiculous promotions and continual increase in rents gradually forced him out in 2013.

You may recognise these features.

During the period 2010 – 2012 Alister managed to negotiate some rent reductions with Matt Bird who had some empathy with Alister as his wife was in a similar debt position. Knowing Alister was entering an IVA Matt did his best but ultimately it was taken out of his hands. No really senior board members would meet Alister even though his welcome letter from Jeremy Clarke offered a virtual open door because the company did not have a grievance procedure.

The board of directors knew exactly what their business model was and hid behind their senior and junior managers. Alister refers to these junior managers as “Jeremy’s foot soldiers”

Apparently the news of Alister’s rent reduction spread throughout the company’s (Murco’s) management, and indeed Murco’s associates Costcutter, (yes it was such a talking point because the management in the field know exactly how unreasonable “the deal” is but as they will all say they have to support it because they have mortgages to pay).

The Regional Manager Andy Edwards actually rang Alister to congratulate him because as Andy said “no one had done it before”.

Alister was clearly a nuisance, fighting to maintain his livelihood and was squeezed out; ultimately forced to resign because of the Murco’s stance on maximum cigarette prices. They would issue fines (debits) of £100 for every cigarette price over their maximum “recommended” price. In my case that would have been several thousands of pounds.

He had a very bad experience losing a great deal of money and almost going bankrupt. He survived by the skin of his teeth by entering an IVA (individual voluntary arrangement) with his personal creditors.

MFG will no doubt say he was not a good manager or business man that is why he failed and left.

MFG will probably say that he bears a grudge and this is all sour grapes.

MFG will probably say that was Murco. However Jeremy Clarke was the architect of the Murco and MFG business models which are almost identical and now combined as one organisation.

MFG, Rontec, MRH Retail plus other similar forecourt companies that utilise self employed site managers are virtually the same using almost identical business models.

Alister took Murco (now MFG) to an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal losing his case on the grounds that he signed the contract as a Limited Company. This cost Murco £20000+ legal fees which they had to bear. In addition he used this action as leverage to have his £15000 bond returned. Which he believes Murco did reluctantly.

In his final meeting with the most senior management he ever met, Peter Nottingham and Matt Bird (Matt was under notice at the time as he was joining MFG) Alister stated his intent to try and sort the forecourt industry out. He was told in no uncertain terms by Peter Nottingham that if he (Alister) tried to take the industry on he “will upset a lot of people making a lot of money”.

In a 1 and half hour telephone conversation that evening Matt did say he didn’t remember that threat, he had “switched off” because he was disenchanted with the company’s attitude.

Alister had previously expressed his disappointment that Matt was joining Jeremy Clarke at MFG. As Matt said he has to make a living.

Well despite this threat Alister is setting his stall out to sort the industry out to the benefit of those self employed managers who are so horribly abused and suffer such stress, bullying and disrespect at the hands of these nasty organisations.

Due to the nature of the industry Alister believes the threat is so real he is maintaining all his records and setting up procedures that ensures they are available to the authorities should anything untoward happen to him.

Some of the people in these forecourt companies are ruthless individuals.

Alister has been a self employed businessman for 37 years. As a company Chairman, Chief Executive and Managing Director he has had as many as 250 employed and self employed people working for him at any one time. Alister knows what employment and self employment is all about.

Alister knows how a company should be run.

Alister has been a Trade Union Member and official.

Alister knows how people should be treated in an ethical and respectful manner in the position of both self employed and employed.

Alister is an active business consultant:-

He is member of The Institute of Business Consultants (IBC), Northern Business Associates (NBA) and the Institute for Independent Businesses (IIB).

Alister McGill will fight for your corner if you will only let him.

Join Alister! Now!

Would you like to share your past experience? If so do it here!