Here’s What Global Convenience Retailers Are Talking About

From Hamburg to London to Stuttgart to Warsaw, technology and labor are big issues.

May 27, 2022

Mark Wohltmann Explores Latest Convenience Store Trends in Europe

By Mark Wohltmann

Early May started with me returning from the Internorga in Hamburg, where I learned all about the latest trends in foodservice (see my April travel log). We then hosted our annual CEO Summit Europe at the prestigious Royal Automobile Club in London. This was one event in our exclusive series of CEO Summits (Europe, Latin America, North America) with limited spaces for the most engaged and progressive NACS retailer members and selected supplier companies.


We learned a lot from our speakers and our roundtable discussion, amongst it:

  • Technology: This decade will see a massive shift toward technology, driven by technological advancement, labor shortage and the need to reduce cost due to inflation.
  • Community: Customers have learned a new appreciation for c-store operators during the pandemic. Their deeper integration into the community will further grow sales in residential locations
  • Labor: The labor shortage is here to stay, emphasizing the need for technological solutions.
  • Future of petrol stations: About half of all current locations will become obsolete in a future EV-driven world. The other half will become hospitality hubs.


The following week I went to Stuttgart, Germany, to visit the Uniti expo, a trade show much focused on technology and organized by our partner association Uniti Germany, a fellow invitee to the NACS Global Government Affairs Council. The latest trends were:

  • Car wash, jet wash, mat wash, forecourt wash, dog wash, washing machines, “Mark-wash” (Don’t try walking into a running car wash like me… Glad it only was in demo mode…);
  • Smart solutions for unmanned stores, flexible on location as being in containers and equipped with proven vending tech in the background; and
  • Nozzle TV, probably the last piece where you didn’t have a screen yet.


From Stuttgart on to Warsaw, where I presented at the PETROTREND conference, together with our NACS Relationship Partner Central and Eastern Europe, Leszek Jurczak. Leszek and I focused on sharing global best practice on the best offer for an EV customer:

  • Global examples of Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” tech
  • The potential to grow through collaboration (petrol brand and grocery brand)

We also learned from the other presentations that the Polish economy is recovering from the pandemic, and fuel demand returned to 2019 levels. This year has seen an increase in fuel production in the country, and a significant increase in imports is necessary though to meet domestic demand. Store sales in petrol stations are increasing, and electromobility still has no impact on the traditional fuel market, despite an increase in EV sales by 100%.


It was a great event where I also had the chance to pretend to ride a museum-piece motorbike, play (and win!) a children’s game on a really cool red dot design award-winning Kids-Corner game (yes, I managed to match the bananas and the broccoli… ), and we thought we might see Tom Cruise abseiling from the high rise the venue was in, probably for the next Mission Impossible… but it only was the window washer.

After I headed back home, I joined the virtual book launch of Andrew Thornton’s “Heart in Business,” a book about how employee empowerment can grow the bottom line. Andrew will also share his first-hand experience from running his Thornton’s Budgens convenience store in North London for many years at our NACS Convenience Summit Europe in Berlin.

Speaking of Berlin… I’m off now to join our team at the summit, 31 May to 2 June. Hope to see you all there.

If you couldn’t make it, NACS Convenience Summit Asia takes place in Singapore July 19-21  More on 2022 CSA, here:

Mark your calendars, in 2023, NACS Convenience Summit Asia is coming to Bangkok, Thailand, home to some of the most successful convenience and foodservice operations in Asia, and NACS Convenience Summit Europe is coming to Dublin, Ireland, the capital of convenience foodservice, and the city that pushed the word ‘foodvenience’ to the next level.”

See you somewhere in the world!

Mark Wohltmann is director, NACS Global. He can be reached at