Get-together to oilwheels of business

Clubbing together could help oil the wheels of commerce in South Lanarkshire in 2013, as a pilot project aims to bring local business together to source heating fuel.

The project aims to establish a Scotland’s first oil club for businesses and, through its combined purchasing power, achieve significant cost saving.

And the first step will be an open meeting on Wednesday evening, January 16, in the Cartland Bridge Hotel.

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Rural Oil Club collectives have started in over 50 locations throughout England and Scottish Enterprise is now bringing this concept to South Lanarkshire in the hope that it can prove as successful in cutting costs for businesses here.

The aim of oil clubs is to bring together local concerns so they can win discounts from suppliers by collectively ordering their heating oil.

If the South Lanarkshire pilot scheme takes off, more clubs will be established across Scotland.

Kate Hutchinson (SAC Consulting) the project co-ordinator says that “oil is used by many businesses, especially in more rural areas.

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“Oil costs about 60p per litre,” she said, so the fuel bills of even small to medium-sized businesses can be significant, especially during the winter months.”

“Rural oil clubs have already taken off in England but we are not simply aiming to replicate an existing model.

“We are starting from scratch to ensure that the structure of the South Lanarkshire club is based on the needs of local businesses,” she explained.

An open meeting is being held in South Lanarkshire on the January 16 at 7.30pm at the Cartland Bridge Hotel, to allow interested local businesses to discuss how they would like the club to run.

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SAC Consulting will provide support and guidance and help identify one local business that might be interested in taking on the club’s administration after the eight month pilot period.

Scottish Enterprise have focused the pilot towards heating oil but, once established, there is no reason why a club should not increase the range of fuels and oils which it negotiates, provided that there is sufficient interest.

Improving the way heating oil is bought could be good for businesses and good for the environment.

In addition to saving on heating costs, collective sourcing and ordering may also provide environmental benefits, given that well organised delivery schedules to a single area’s multiple customers can reduce repeated individual lorry and tanker trips.