Backing a certainty


Certas Energy continually promotes strong messages about ‘transparency’, ‘honesty’ and great customer service.

A Customer Charter has been developed and is available to all customers; approved by the Plain English Campaign it outlines the company’s customer commitments; the level of service customers can expect from Certas Energy and how easily accessible the company is.

Transparency is also extended through the company’s online presence – Idania Borerro-Knight, online marketing manager, is very proud of the new website which was developed in house.

“Yes, we’ve improved the website’s transparency – content is written in plain English with jargon limited wherever possible. Mobile and tablet friendly, this website was designed with the end user in mind, making navigation easy and intuitive, enabling the visitor to find exactly what they’re looking for.”


In 2001 when DCC Energy moved into the British market it was Ireland’s fastest growing independent oil distribution company. First purchasing BP’s fuel marketing businesses in Scotland and Cumbria, it was the 2004 acquisition of Shell Direct that gave the business a national footprint. Texaco’s equity distributors were added in 2008, Gulf aviation and retail (the latter now has 390 sites) in 2009 with Total Butler’s 48 depots brought into the fold more recently.

In the last 7 years, there have been 24 acquisitions, the most recent being Advance Fuels and 13 retail sites from Shell in Scotland, where considerable investment will be made.

Asked about further acquisitions Paul said: “We’ll look at any opportunity that presents itself in any business sector.” Paul reports strength in all operating sectors which includes lubricants, marine fuels, fuel cards, national accounts and a heating services division with over 70 engineers.

An area of particular interest is retail. “This is a very, very competitive sector but retail offers a massive marketplace. We’ve already enjoyed considerable success with recognition at the Forecourt Trader awards and our own SuperStation initiative.” said Paul.

“Having the support of DCC has enabled us to invest and to make some pretty decent sized acquisitions over the last 10 years. Our ambition, and moreover our vision, is to grow both organically and through acquisition. Subject of course to continuing to provide strong returns on capital employed for our shareholders.”

Managing a growing business

The company’s considerable assets – 150 depots – are managed both centrally and regionally however procurement of major assets and operational equipment are undertaken centrally to drive economies of scale. “Whilst we do have some preferred suppliers such as CODAS which provides all the company’s software, the door is always open to others with good offers!,” said Paul.

“Our capital expenditure is significant, and with that in mind a strong focus on working capital is essential. The sustainability of assets – trucks, depots etc. – requires year in, year out investment with tens of millions of pounds invested to date. As a storage facility owner, just relining the tanks at Caledonian Oils in Aberdeen cost over half a million pounds each.

“We’re keen to take a lead in the industry. We have a strong HSE and compliance culture driven by our dedicated Safety F1rst and Doing the Right Thing (compliance) campaigns. And we have developed strong and proactive relationships with the OFT, Trading Standards, etc.

“However, whatever the challenges faced, it’s important for us not to lose sight of our entrepreneurial spirit.


“We’ve also invested heavily in one of our other key assets … our 2,500 colleagues. We have a great team with a super work ethic.

“As the company continues to evolve, effective management of change is also essential. We’ve invested heavily in training and development for all our colleagues to ensure we have competent and skilled people in all our business activities.

“We also like to be viewed as an employer of choice where people come because they feel there’s an opportunity for them to be developed in terms of their skillsets, roles and responsibilities.

Do you feel threatened by initiatives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive?

“This is certainly on our radar. Although we don’t envisage it having a huge impact on the industry in the short term, we are fully in support of OFTEC initiatives which encourage the installation of lower carbon emitting boilers, and the drive to install renewable energy systems.

Through our parent company, DCC, we are involved in the heating industry from a number of angles. For example, DCC’s New Energy division already operates in the renewables market via UFW and Clearpower, and the Flogas operation in turn supplies homes with LPG. In addition, alternative sources of energy such as solar and biomass are being seriously considered.

Is there anything about the industry that you would change?

“Yes, it would be brilliant if people really appreciated just how much time, money and effort is invested in the downstream fuel distribution business to maintain the service at the levels our customers have come to expect from us.”

How do you see the future?

“Short term we see customers continuing to drive economies and more legislation changes necessitating additional investment.

“Long term the industry needs to take a more balanced approach to selling heating oil and look at other methods of generating revenue.

“I guess we’ve been preparing for the long term for quite a while now. We’re not naïve to the fact that we cannot be solely reliant on cold weather or the heating oil market for future revenues. Our focus has already been to develop other areas/business sectors for expansion, including our lubricants division, retail, aviation, marine, fuel cards and boiler maintenance services. We believe we have the balance right to ensure a sustainable business model.

Paul concludes, “I’m really proud of what the company has achieved for the long term sustainability of the industry with key suppliers and customers buying into what we’ve sought to achieve. To borrow from our new Certas Energy mantra – Doing it right together is certainly keeping our customers happy.

“Oil is in my blood. After 23 years working in this great industry, I still look forward to coming to work every day, I’m extremely competitive and still have ambitious plans for this business.” added Paul.