A year on from Shell's evolution into Z Energy (which was met with a mixed reception) the company says it's sitting pretty in the preferred brand stakes.
“Our brand tracking shows Z is already a strong preference for Kiwis, with respondents more likely to recommend Z than any competitor," said chief executive Mike Bennetts.
"Our commitment to bringing service back to forecourts, being locally owned, and contributing back to local neighbourhoods is resonating well with customers, despite the fact that the brand roll-out is only two thirds complete."
The Z brand was launched in a pilot programme in May 2011 and a full rollout was announced in November, with the rebrand on track for completion in June.
“We have areas to improve, such as better promoting our new food and coffee offer but customers are giving Z a chance, are expressing a clear preference for local ownership and what Z stands for and we’re committed to continuing to earn their loyalty,” he said.
According to its financial results, however, Z's net profit fell to $77 million from $203 million (although that included the effect of a $121 million revaluation of the company’s assets).
Earnings before interest and depreciation were posted at $177 million, up from $167 million.
Bennetts said the year had been one of maintaining performance while building a foundation for growth.
“The full year result is at the lower end of our guidance but our performance highlights the resilience and momentum we have in the business to manage volatility. In the last quarter refining margins were the lowest they have been since we bought the business and there has been significant price discounting across the retail fuels market," he said.
“When you boil it down, if you take all of the money we made – including our shop sales – and divide that by the total litres of fuel sold, we made a bottom line profit of about 2.1 cents per litre."
While there had been some recovery in fuel margins over April and May, the business remained a "highly competitive, low margin industry".