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Meet Paul Warren, the architect of India’s new convenience retail experience

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R S Roy
R S Roy
R S Roy is the editorial advisor at IMAGES Group

The veteran along with Reliance BP Mobility (Jio-bp) is set to launch 100s of cafes and convenience stores across the nation, setting new benchmarks in serving busy customers on the move.

Paul Warren’s journey from the harmonious notes of musical theatre to the vibrant chords of retail innovation began in the heart of the UK. For five years, his fingers danced across the piano keys, orchestrating melodies that captivated audiences. However, the desire for stability led him to the doorstep of British Petroleum (bp) some 34 years ago, where he embarked on a transformative journey into the world of retail. He joined BP as Retail Operations Manager for Scotland in 1990.

From Pianist to a Retail Maestro

It took Paul just 12 years to scale the ladder and take up a global role. In 2002, he was asked to be part of retail market entry into Eastern Europe of Hungary, Czech Republic, and Poland. This then led him to lead the BP Retail business in Russia, as it expanded further East.

In the UK, he orchestrated the enduring bp’s partnership with Marks & Spencer for the creation of the latter’s food offerings in BP retail stores. BP now has over 300 Simply Food stores in the UK. In its 20th year of operation, this remains BP’s most successful retail partnership globally. It was also the footprint for further BP partnerships with leading food retailers in South Africa, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands.

During this time, Paul also had assignments in the USA and Australia.

Bringing harmony to South Africa

In 2018, he was asked to revitalize bp’s convenience business in South Africa. Within a year, Paul delivered remarkable performance and year-on-year growth, outstripping the market for the first time in recent years, with 22% growth in total shop sales in 2019, 7% like-for-like as well as an increase in market share.

He also created the latest concept store of the future, Generation 4, which focused on destressing its time-starved customer’s journey and bringing them the ultimate in retail convenience. Bp saw the basket size increase by 23%, the sale of fresh food increase by 53%, and Wild Bean Cafe continued to grow as a percentage of total sales.

The Crescendo in India

In 2021, Paul orchestrated a new chapter in his illustrious career as he assumed the mantle of Head of Retail Convenience for Reliance BP Mobility in India.

On 14 Dec 2021, ‘Jio-bp’ launched its flagship Jio-bp Mobility Station just outside Mumbai. With food, fuel, and mobility offers all new to India – the site was the first of its network of 1,400 sites that were to go for rebranding as Jio-bp.

The opening marked a milestone moment for partners, bp and Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), who formed a joint venture in 2020 with bp holding a 49% stake and RIL holding 51% with a shared goal to become a leading player in what is expected to be one of the fastest-growing fuels and mobility markets globally over the next two decades.

Jio-bp’s offer is focused on customers on the go, providing quality food & beverage offerings at affordable prices. Services such as free wi-fi, charging points, seating, and clean toilets are all core elements of their offer.

Under Paul’s steadfast leadership, the successful launch of 100 convenience stores and pioneering initiatives such as the rollout of Wild Bean Cafe on high streets, metro stations, and corporate Business Parks have come to fruition.

A Global Sonata of Success

Paul’s retail symphony traversed continents, orchestrating success stories in Europe, the USA, Australia, and beyond. From negotiating landmark partnerships to pioneering new market entries, his strategic acumen, and passion for the business have helped bp expand its convenience footprint globally.

Convenience stores have been on bp’s retail forecourts for decades—but mobility is changing and so is its convenience offering. The format is one of the company’s five transition growth engines.

BP balances its global scale with a local product offer that reflects the needs and tastes of its diverse customers around the world—from samosas in India to hot dogs in Poland and pies in Australia.

Its mobility offer is complemented by strong proprietary food brands – ampm, Thorntons, Petit Bistro, Wild Bean Café—and partnerships with leading retailers.

BP has joined forces with renowned retailers around the world to offer its customers the best in on-the-go convenience.

With BP’s global scale and local expertise, coupled with Reliance’s extensive presence and digital prowess, Jio-BP is poised to redefine convenience retail and mobility solutions in India, heralding a new era of convenience, connectivity, and customer-centricity under Paul Warren’s able leadership.

The musician-turned-retailer will share his notes on redefining convenience and highway retail at scale at the Phygital Retail Convention (PRC) 2024.

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