Thursday, October 14, 2010

Will BP's (NYSE:BP) Independent Owners Flee the Company?

In the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP's (NYSE:BP) problems are far from only the considerations of their liability in the matter, but also the business itself, which in the case of thousands of station owners around the country could become a major issue, as many are considering fleeing the BP fold to other brands once their contracts are up.

Of course competitors of BP are out in force looking for new outlets for their gas as well, contacting independent BP owners to see if and when they may want to change to another brand.

Other owners are taking the initiative on their own to see if other brands would be interested in their locations.

This isn't unusual in itself, as it's the general nature of the business to poach from one another. What's different is the large number of potential deals which could dramatically impact the bottom line of BP. It also makes it hard for BP to make up for businesses lost, as at this time there wouldn't be many other independent owners of other brands which would migrate to the troubled energy giant.

To address these issues and hopefully stem the growing tide of losing stations, BP is getting together with owners and distributors this week in Washington to lay out their case on how they're going to heal the damaged brand.

It's unclear at this time how many contracts will come to an end this year, and are in danger of being lost to the company. But this isn't only about this year, but every year going forward, as the BP story will remain in the news as events unfold and the ongoing claims process continues for several more years.

That and lawsuits will be an ongoing struggle for BP as the Gulf spill is brought to people's memories over and over again.

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