Woolworths was the first of the supermarket giants to move into the fuel business. The first Woolworths petrol outlet carried the store’s own Plus Petrol brand. It was established in Dubbo in 1996 in the car park of the Woolworths supermarket. A small shop, known as a Pay Point, was located in the car park to service the fuel outlet.
Over the next four years, Woolworths continued to open many Pay Point sites across Australia. The expansion of the petrol offering did not always go smoothly. There were a number of objections to the siting of petrol stations within existing car parks.
Perhaps as a result of this, the supermarket chain began to acquire separate sites. Woolworth’s petrol business was expanded from the year 2000 with the building of what Woolworths termed “Convenience sites”. These were outlets not located in supermarket car parks but usually close to a Woolworths store. By 2001 there were more than 250 Plus Petrol stores nationally. They offered discounts of at least two cents a litre to customers who showed their Woolworths sales dockets. In that year, the chain sold off many of the sites to private investors, leasing them back for fuel operations.
In 2003 Woolworths forged an alliance with Caltex, offering cheaper fuel via shopper dockets. This was in response to Coles’s announcement of a joint venture with Shell, offering supermarket fuel dockets with any purchase over $30.