STATE-RUN oil firm, PetroTrade Limited will be shutting down five of its fuel stations across the country between February 9 and March 30 this year to make way for the return of the assets’ proprietors, chief executive officer Godfrey Ncube told NewsDay Business yesterday.
Ncube said it was possible that the landlords, who he could not disclose, were seeing fresh market opportunities they would like to exploit.
Oil firms have recently been given the green light to import fuel and trade in foreign currency.
Business has been booming in the industry, with several importers turning the corner following many years in which they were compelled to trade in the domestic currency.
Many fuel importers went bust during the Zimdollar era because after trading, they failed to raise enough Zimbabwe dollars to buy foreign currency to import more stock.
In a market update yesterday, PetroTrade said fuel stations in Chipinge, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Chivhu and Graniteside in Harare would be affected.
He dispelled speculation that the firm had collapsed under dire financial straits after facing stiff competition in a liberalised market.
He said PetroTrade still had 30 fuel stations which were operational.
“We have not closed down our operations,’ Ncube told NewsDay Business.
“The landlord is claiming the assets back. Maybe they are seeing some opportunities in the market,” he said.
The new development at PetroTrade contrasts with the firm’s earlier plan to expand across the country and dominate the rural market.
In 2019, PetroTrade said it was exploring strategies to grow its market share beyond 10% under a plan that would see it expanding to less-serviced rural communities.