20 Nov OnlineFuels and Shell Deutschland have entered into a joint venture in Germany. What does it mean for the UK business?
OnlineFuels, a leading B2B online fuel sales platform in the UK, and Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH have entered into a joint venture in Germany, creating OLF Deutschland GmbH, launching a fuel sales platform for the commercial B2B market in Germany. OnlineFuels Deutschland intends to cooperate with other oil and energy companies in Germany.
James Stairmand, founder and CEO of OnlineFuels, explained: “Germany is the largest fuel market in Europe – an ideal place for us to expand our online offerings.”
Jörg Debus, Shell Commercial Fuels Manager Europa/Africa, said: “With an online platform we want to give our B2B customers the opportunity to order products around the clock to mitigate potential exposures. In addition, the platform aims to make the oil purchasing process as simple and efficient as possible for our clients.”
The go-live is planned for the first half of 2019. The company’s headquarters will be in Hamburg.
Words from James
We’re sure that some of you may have a few questions about the latest advance with the business and how it will affect you. So we sat down with our Founder, James Stairmand, to get the scoop.
So James, what’s the big news?
We’re finally able to announce that we’re expanding into the German market in a partnership with Shell. Talks with the oil major began twelve months ago and resulted in an exciting joint venture that will see OnlineFuels expand into Germany and bring a significant boost to the UK business in doing so.
How did this come to fruition?
It was roughly this time last year we started talks with Shell. They like what we are doing in the UK and our visions of where the market will head in the next 5 years are aligned. One marketplace- everyone on it- buyers and sellers. Shell has made multiple investments into other emerging start-ups, like Applied Blockchain- so for us, it was a very easy decision and a privilege.
What does the mean for OnlineFuels UK?
Our platform is going to be getting a real makeover- and we’re not just talking about shiny new buttons. We have significant investment to keep improving the product. Our platform will never be complete, it will evolve to customers’ needs and requirements. We’re listening to you and we are on the right path. Buyers, sellers and now hauliers, we want your opinions. You will do well to upset us with negative feedback.
On a personal level, I will now be getting much more hands-on in the UK business. We are building a separate commercial team in Hamburg and all IT updates will happen in the UK. I will now be much more active speaking to users and seeing how we can bring real value to yourselves. For the past 7 months, in particular, I have been completely engrossed in legal paperwork setting up the German entity, setting up a joint venture with an oil major is as complex as you can believe.
How will this impact our Buyers and Sellers?
It can only affect our buyers and sellers positively. The UK business remains the UK business, but now with extra investments to really fine-tune the tools you use every day and build new features. Our partnership with Shell is in the German market, but the fact they have backed us to partner with in Europe is a huge reassurance that the UK model is working and the way the industry is heading.
What’s the vision for the future?
Our vision is to prove the model in UK and Germany and to keep pushing further afield, the whole time keeping the product as consistent as possible meaning we can make our platform as great for the user as possible.
Any final words?
For OnlineFuels as a business, it’s an incredibly exciting time. Don’t get me wrong there have been plenty of moments when you really ask why, but the team we’ve built over the last 3 years is incredible and the challenges we’ve all overcome are unbelievable and makes it all worthwhile. If we can keep the next 3 years on track, it’s going to be a real step change and see us take the business to the next level.
Last and by no means least a big thanks to everyone who has helped along the way. The investors, the OnlineFuels team, our customers, and the people willing to take random calls and give advice along the way, all absolutely invaluable. Above all, thanks to my wife Mared, who continues to be a rock. The amount she has to listen to me talk about the business is unreal. Poor gal. If you’ve been on the journey of setting up a business from scratch, you will know how important this is.
If you are ever in London and fancy a chat, we’re a pretty sociable bunch and are based at Bank Station. Pop in. Say Hi.