Peter Short, General Manager of Coles Express, has had a prolific career in the fuel industry, working across a variety of roles here and overseas. My career balances around two points, he says. Theres one whole career in the Shell company. After a rich variety of senior roles and experiences in Shell, I was then approached by Coles when the Shell retail business was purchased and put together in a transaction with the then Coles Myer in 2003.
From my background working in Shell within retail and a range of other areas, I obtained the skills that gave me the opportunity with Coles when they wanted to set up their fuels retail business under the Coles banner. They needed somebody who knew what they were doing, so I was approached for that and took the opportunity to move into Coles. Ive been running the Coles Express business ever since; it was really a new business on day one, and over the past 11 years, weve managed to grow it year on year, which is why Im still here.
When Peter stepped into the role in 2003, the company had taken over 579 service stations from Shell and has increased the network to 636. When we took over the business in 2003, Shell had clearly been thinking about options around possible exits from its retail business. In any scenario where that occurs, theres a slowing down of spend prior to an eventual decision. When we took over in 2003, the properties were a bit tired and it took us quite some time to build up a plan and the resources to address that. I think Richard Goyder, the CEO of Wesfarmers, put it quite succinctly to me in 2007 when he said, Peter, the stores look tawdry. We then had the mandate and support to address the issues, understanding where we were going with our customers and what we wanted to do.