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Z confirmed as best employer

Z Energy has been announced as a 2016 Aon Hewitt ‘Best Employer’ for the second year running. 

The annual award recognises the best employers across New Zealand and Australia through examining employee engagement scores and people practices.

Z’s General Manager of People and Culture, Sharlene Taylor, said the recognition reflected the commitment of every member of the Z team to leadership and to building a culture which enables extraordinary performance. 

“Being recognised as a best employer truly reflects the investment we’ve made in our people, culture, and leadership practices since day one,” she said.

Sharlene said Z’s focus on people and leadership has come from the bottom up, with its company values and leadership framework being generated by simply asking its people what mattered to them. 

“I’m particularly pleased that we’ve been able to retain such a strong employer rating during a big year characterised by large scale change,” she said. 

“This result points to the engagement and resilience of our people and our ability to lead complex change in accordance with the values upon which Z is built.” 

Sharlene said the recognition was particularly important as the company comes together with the new team from Chevron New Zealand. The acquisition to acquire Chevron New Zealand was settled on 1 June. 

“Bringing two strong companies together into a single operation is an opportunity to develop a unique and special culture in which we learn from each other and work together to deliver extraordinary performance.”


Jonathan Hill: 04 498 0212


Z is about to share $1m among groups doing Good in the Hood

The voting phase of Z’s Good in the Hood programme is over and 852 community groups are about to share in $1 million relative to how hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders voted.

The groups doing good in neighbourhoods across the country were selected from thousands of applications, and Z customers were asked to vote for their favourite group during the month of May.

“In its fifth consecutive year the 2016 Good in the Hood finalists were selected from more than 4,000 applications, and narrowing the number down was a tough job when each and every one of the groups, both big and small, are working to make a positive difference in their community,” said Z’s Community Manager, Christine Langdon.

Each Z station supported four local groups who will each receive a share of $4,000 based on how customers voted with the Good in the Hood orange token they received every time they made a purchase or filled-up during May. The votes are now being tallied and the cheques will be presented to each of the groups this month.

A further $1,000 per station has also been set aside for Z’s local retailers to support other neighbourhood groups and projects as they arise throughout the remainder of the year.

Christine says Good in the Hood is all about keeping it local.

“Our Z stations are part of the communities they serve. We reckon the best way to give back to those communities is to put our local teams and customers at the heart of deciding how the funding is shared. They know better than anyone what matters in their neighbourhoods.

“During the month many groups promoted their activities on our forecourts and both their teams and the Z team got right behind them. The programme is a real celebration of the countless hours spent by groups across New Zealand making a significant contribution to the health and well-being of our communities,” Christine said.  

You’ll be able to see the final tally for how much each group in your neighbourhood received by visiting your local Z station at the start of July, or visiting  www.z.co.nz/goodinthehood later this month.


Focus on safety, customers following Commerce Commission clearance

Z Energy confirmed its focus would be on the safety and integrity of operations, and on serving customers, following the Commerce Commission’s clearance today of its application to acquire 100 per cent of the shares of Chevron New Zealand (CNZ).

The Commerce Commission’s announcement is available on its website at: www.comcom.govt.nz/the-commission/media-centre/media-releases/.

Z applied to the Commerce Commission for clearance to acquire CNZ (comprising CNZ’s downstream operations in New Zealand, including CNZ owned service stations, supply contracts, terminals and its lubricants business) on 30 June 2015 for a purchase price of $785 million. Today the Commerce Commission cleared the transaction on the basis that, subject to Z’s undertaking to divest certain assets, it would not be likely to substantially lessen competition in any market.

Z Chief Executive Mike Bennetts said while a robust 10-month investigation by the Commerce Commission had resulted in the transaction being approved, the creation of a larger company came with significant responsibilities for Z to its staff, customers of both companies, and to New Zealand as a whole.

“As a local company we believe buying the business of a global company is good for New Zealand and it’s now up to us to prove it. We will start this journey as a new company exactly as we intend to continue - by ensuring our focus is squarely on the safety of our operations and on the customers and communities we serve.”

A team of more than 100 people from both Z and CNZ have worked for almost a year on planning and technology solutions to bring the two companies together to enable them to operate as one from settlement, which is expected to be on 1 June 2016.

“Bringing two large companies with different technology, systems, processes and business models together is a complex and challenging undertaking. I want to thank the CNZ and Z teams for their commitment and professionalism in enabling us to get to this point. I look forward to welcoming the CNZ team to Z.”

He said it was very much business as usual both before and after settlement for customers of both companies, who should notice no impact or change as a result of the way these teams had worked.

Cutover Z said the next step would see the company focus on completing a safe and secure cutover of CNZ to Z’s systems on 1 June 2016.

“There is a substantial amount of work to be completed in order to fully integrate CNZ’s business into Z’s corporate structure and business operations. The technical systems cutover is scheduled to take place overnight on 31 May, with the 1 June settlement day being the first day the two companies will operate under common ownership.”

Mike Bennetts said the company had been planning for the delivery of a safe and efficient cutover for the best part of a year, and he was confident the organisation has the structures in place to deliver that.

“In the period immediately following settlement and the cutover to Z’s systems and processes, there will be an increased focus on the stabilisation of our operations, ensuring safety and continuity of supply for all of our customers.”


Once the acquisition is settled, Z said it is confident it remains on track to deliver the $25-30 million of synergies previously identified as a result of the deal.

Synergies are expected to be realised across improved supply chain efficiency, including at Refining NZ; reduced people costs, particularly through avoiding costs associated with the provision of offshore back office and support services to CNZ; and a range of IT, systems and process efficiencies.

“The expanded company will create value through leveraging the scale and scope of both companies’ operations, including the diversity of business models and people expertise,” Mike Bennetts said.

“We’re confident in the identified synergies and once we have cutover to a single ERP system the next phase will be on integrating the two companies – this is where we expect to learn significantly more about the CNZ business, how it can most efficiently fit alongside Z’s operations and where we may be able to generate additional value by learning from one another’s experience and different business models.”


Mike Bennetts said as part of securing clearance Z has undertaken to divest certain assets over the coming months. These are:

  • 19 retail service station businesses
  • 1 truckstop business

“Z will need time to properly assess the financial impacts of these divestments given there are options as to which branded service station is divested. The volume impact on the combined company ranges between 60 – 80 million litres per annum. Over the past 11 months Z has had approaches from numerous parties expressing interest in any assets that may be divested so Z expects competition for these assets,” he said.

Debra Blackett (Z’s Company Secretary) has been appointed to manage the divestment workstream as a continuation of her accountability for leading the acquisition workstream, which included the Commerce Commission clearance process and the financing and legal activities required to be able to settle the transaction. Preliminary planning has already been completed which gives Z confidence it can meet its divestment obligations.

“It is quite common in acquisitions and was anticipated that we might need to undertake to divest some assets as part of securing clearance. Although we have not yet decided which specific assets will be divested and the consequent impact on earnings, we do not believe they materially diminish the attractive earnings multiples we bought at, the quality of the portfolio, or the target synergies. We are already working to ensure we carry out the divestments within the period we have undertaken to do so, with a significant focus on ensuring ongoing support for operations that might be impacted by a divestment decision,” Mike Bennetts said.


Mike Bennetts reiterated that the skills and experiences of the CNZ team are highly valued and an important consideration in the acquisition.

“Z has committed that all CNZ staff will have at least 12 months of paid employment from the date of settlement. CNZ already runs a lean and highly efficient operation and we expect to learn a lot from their people over the coming months.

“There are obvious opportunities to reduce people costs in bringing the services that were provided to CNZ and charged in from a global services hub back into our existing operations.

“The CNZ team have conducted themselves with a high level of professionalism during an uncertain time and I’m very much looking forward to welcoming them into Z,” he said.

Commitment to dual brand strategy

Mike Bennetts said Z remained committed to a dual brand strategy in the retail market.

“The operation of a dual brand strategy means our retail customers can continue to enjoy the different Caltex and Z branded service stations and the different offers that go with those stations and their different business models,” he said.

Settlement and funding

The total purchase price is $785 million – plus a working capital adjustment - and will be funded from cash ($115 million) and debt ($670 million).

A $185 million pro rata equity raise was considered at the time of the announcement of the transaction. Given the passage of time - higher synergies and improvement in the underlying Z business over the FY16 year, partially offset by anticipated divestments - the decision has been taken not to raise additional capital and to instead fund the remainder through debt from pre-arranged debt facilities with Z’s banking syndicate.

The funding mix will see Z’s starting leverage on settlement of total debt to replacement cost operating EBITDAF earnings multiple of approximately 2.6x. Consistent with the 2 June 2015 announcement it is anticipated that leverage will reduce to ~2.0x within two to three years, albeit slightly slower given the higher opening debt.

“We appreciate the patience and support of our investors throughout the acquisition process and, think it is a better outcome to temporarily extend debt facilities rather than dilute existing equity holdings.”

The transaction is expected to be settled on 1 June at which point Chevron will be paid the balance of the purchase price and the operation of the combined business will sit with Z.

Until settlement occurs, Z and Chevron remain competitors.

Guidance and market updates

Mike Bennetts said Z would be providing regular market updates on progress of the integration of the two companies post settlement and cutover.

“Our immediate focus will be on putting the two companies together, ensuring their safe and stable operation and then moving into the integration phase, during which we will start to understand more about the operation of the business and the value that an integrated company can generate.

“We acknowledge the strong interest in the cutover process and the complexity and risks that arise from putting two large business operations together. On that basis we will provide regular updates to confirm that these complexities and risks are being managed, and that customer satisfaction levels do not diminish.

“We will provide guidance for the standalone Z business with full year results on 12 May and in June will update that guidance to include the earnings contribution from the Chevron business,” said Mike.

“Once we have been operating the business for several months we will host an investor day to update investors on the strategy for the integrated company and the financial forecasts that relate to that, probably in September or October this year.”


Mike Bennetts said although the process of securing clearance had taken a long time, the real work in building a world-class company was now just beginning.

“As we become a larger and more strategically significant company we will have an increased responsibility to our customers, investors, staff and to New Zealand as a whole.

This is a responsibility we welcome and we are committed to building this company for the benefit of all our stakeholders in line with the values that underpin every aspect of our operation, as they have done so for all of the past six years,” said Mike.


Jonathan Hill: 04 498 0212


Groups to share in $1 million with Z’s Good in the Hood

More than 800 local community groups across New Zealand will get the support they deserve this year with their share of more than $1 million thanks to Z’s Good in the Hood.

In its fifth consecutive year, the 2016 Good in the Hood finalists were selected from more than 4,000 applications, with the decision around which groups would be successful this year proving just as challenging as in previous years.

“As a Kiwi company, our customers expect us to give back to local neighbourhoods, to support the things that matter locally and to make a positive contribution right across New Zealand,” said Z’s Community Manager, Christine Langdon.

“We received more than 4,000 Good in the Hood applications this year – and these are all really deserving local groups, both big and small, who are making a real difference in their communities, so having to narrow it down to only four groups per station proved quite difficult.”

In the ultimate show of keeping it local, each of the successful groups will now be up for their share of the $4,000 up for grabs at each of the 213 Z sites across New Zealand.

Z customers will have the opportunity to decide how much each group gets by voting with an orange token each time they visit Z during the month of May.

“We reckon it doesn’t seem right for a bunch Z employees to make decisions about what matters most to the many diverse communities we have here in New Zealand,” Christine said.  

“At the end of the day, we know our local Z service stations teams and their customers are best placed to be making those decisions, and that’s why we leave the voting up to them.”

In addition to the $4,000 available per Z site, an extra $1,000 will be given to each local Z retailer to use throughout the year, supporting other neighbourhood projects and initiatives as they see fit.

To view the full list of this year’s groups, visit www.z.co.nz/GoodintheHood.


Kiwi communities to benefit from nationwide defibrillator installation

Kiwi communities will have easier access to life-saving technology thanks to Z Energy’s nationwide installation of more than 200 defibrillators at Z service stations across New Zealand.

Last month, Z purchased the 214 defibrillators from St John. Work is underway to ensure every Z service station across the country has a defibrillator installed.  

Z’s Retail Sales Manager, Rob McDonald, said the decision to install the defibrillators was a no-brainer.

“We know that defibrillators significantly increase the chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest, and we reckon making defibrillators available to our site staff, to our customers and to communities across New Zealand is just one small step we can take toward helping keep our communities safe.

“While this initiative comes at a cost, at the end of the day these machines only need to save one life for their installation to be worthwhile.”

St John Chief Executive, Peter Bradley, says New Zealand has a relatively low rate of public access to defibrillators.

“Early defibrillation has the potential to double or treble the survival rate from cardiac arrest, and we support any initiative to make this life-saving technology more publicly available.

“Our partnership with Z allows us to make the most of their nationwide service station network and place defibrillators in easy to find locations all over New Zealand.”

The initiative is just one of a number of exciting opportunities to come out of Z’s recent partnership with St John, Rob said.

“This year, as part of our partnership with St John, we’re going to be supporting their annual appeal week with the sale of first aid plasters at Z sites, with all proceeds going to St John.

“We’re also really keen to ensure our own Z team are well-equipped when it comes to CPR and the use of defibrillators, so we’ve invited St John to come in and run two in-house sessions covering both CPR and AED demonstrations.”

The St John annual appeal week runs from Monday 4 April through until Sunday, 10 April. The first aid plasters go on sale at Z services stations from today and will be available through until Sunday, 10 April or while stocks last.



Employing people with disabilities good for business, customers

People with disabilities can look forward to even more employment opportunities thanks to a partnership between Z Energy and specialist employment service Workbridge, announced today.

A new Workbridge Employer Ambassador role, created in partnership with Z Energy, will play a key role in helping employers across New Zealand proactively create more opportunities for people with disabilities.

From 18 April, former Z retailer from the Waikato Region and the winner of this year’s Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year award, Selwyn Cook, will be taking on the role.

“I’ve always been committed to reflecting diversity in the workplace, and to ensuring businesses are more inclusive of those living with disabilities,” Selwyn says.

“My own experience operating a number of Z service stations in the Waikato region has shown me that people with a disability are highly committed to their work, and I have experienced no performance management issues.

“Taking up the new Workbridge Employer Ambassador role will enable me to work alongside other New Zealand organisations to help them build inclusive workplaces that more accurately reflect our society, and I’m really excited to have that opportunity.”

Workbridge Chief Executive, Grant Cleland, says both the partnership with Z and the creation of this Workbridge Employer Ambassador role is an exciting opportunity for employers to get support from Selwyn to access the often hidden talent pool of Workbridge jobseekers.

“At Workbridge, our focus is simply on linking the right people with the right jobs. That means looking beyond any disabilities our jobseekers may have and simply ensuring the jobseekers we put forward have the best skills and attitude for that role.

“Selwyn has employed over 85 of our jobseekers so he has personally experienced the benefits of employing our jobseekers and has found that this has improved his bottom line.”

Z’s Community Manager, Christine Langdon, says the decision to partner with Workbridge was a really easy one.

“We’re committed to creating employment opportunities for people living with disabilities in our communities – we reckon it’s good for business, good for customers, good for communities and good for New Zealand.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to team up with Workbridge to create this new Employer Ambassador role, and we’re even more thrilled that we’ve been able to put one of the wider Z family, former Z retailer Selwyn Cook, into this role – given his commitment to the employment of people with disability over the years, we reckon he’s a perfect fit.”


Cantabrians with dementia benefit from new aquatic movement group

For people living with dementia, the opportunity to continue to lead fulfilling, purposeful and socially-enriched lives can make all the difference to those touched by the often misunderstood illness.

Alzheimers Canterbury supports people affected by dementia, helping them to live well and offering free services including social work, carer support groups, an extensive social programme, volunteer services, community education, and therapeutic and activity groups.   

When they applied for Z’s Good in the Hood community initiative in 2015, the group were hoping to add an aquatic movement group to the activities programme they deliver to local people affected by dementia.   

“Activity in water not only improves the functional capacity of people with dementia but also has significant effects on other aspects of quality of life such as sleep, appetite, behavioral and psychological symptoms, depression, and falls. Additionally, exercise can improve a person's overall sense of well-being and positively enhance their sociability,” says Alzheimer’s Canterbury spokesperson Annelies Basten.

As a result of the more than $1,200 of community support they received through Good in the Hood, Alzheimer’s Canterbury’s dream of having an aquatic group for people with dementia has become a reality.

“Thanks to Good in the Hood, we have been able to launch two Watermemories groups in not one but two different Canterbury locations – Rangiora’s Dudley and Christchurch’s Wharenui swimming pools.”

“The $1,246 donation from Good in the Hood 2015 was used to cover transport, phone calls (reminder calls to clients and management of the project) and pool fees, and we’re incredibly grateful to Z for Good in the Hood and the support it has given us in getting Watermemories off the ground.”

According to Ms. Basten, the groups are very popular, and a huge number of clients are keen to attend weekly.

“It’s a real buzz to see how many people enjoy the social connection and fun of being in the pool together. The activity has a number of benefits, too, from reminding them of positive times spent in the water before their illness to ensuring social connectedness, purposeful activity and exercise in the present.”

The Watermemories groups have also contributed to the quality of life for the full-time care partners who enjoy a few hours to themselves, providing a very welcome break for the care partners.


Cutting-edge crime prevention tech rolling out across New Zealand

Z Energy is rolling out the latest technology to keep its sites, staff and customers safe across New Zealand licence plate recognition software.

Z’s General Manager of Retail, Mark Forsyth, said the new technology has been successfully piloted and is now being rolled out across the country. The licence plate recognition software is the latest in a string of state-of-the-art security measures, following smoke cannons, SelectaDNA mist and an $8 million digital CCTV network on every site.

“This technology, coupled with Z’s cutting edge digital CCTV technology, is already making a huge difference on Z sites, particularly in preventing ‘drive-offs’ which cost Z around $1.5 million per year,” said Mark.

“When we identify a vehicle involved in a drive off, the number plate is captured in the system and if that vehicle comes onto any Z site again, the technology immediately recognises the plate, focuses cameras on the vehicle and driver and turns the pump on to pre-pay, preventing the vehicle from filling up without paying.

“Additionally, the quality footage we now get through this software and digital CCTV aids the police in identifying people and increases the odds of catching them. Already in this pilot we’ve reduced drive-offs by up to 80 per cent at some sites,” he said.

“Regardless of where you do it, if you steal from Z, anywhere in the country, you’re very likely to be caught.”

Mark Forsyth said Z had partnered with Auror, an Auckland-based company, pioneering the development of an innovative crime prevention platform and Focus Digital Security, New Zealand’s leading implementer of ANPR technology, to deliver this solution across the country.

He said that with Auror and Focus, Z was also working on applying the new technology so that if a stolen vehicle comes onto a Z site an automatic alert is sent directly to Police alerting them to the vehicle’s location.

Getting this information immediately to police will be really helpful as often stolen vehicles are involved in robberies and burglaries. We’ve got some incredibly smart technology on Z sites that now makes committing a crime on a Z site one of the dumbest things you can do.

“We want to get the message out loud and clear that we’re not going to stand for anything that makes our sites, our staff or our customers unsafe. If anyone’s thinking about driving off without paying or doing anything illegal or unsafe on our sites, don’t bother – the chances of getting away with anything are incredibly low and the chances of getting caught have never been higher.”

Jonathan Hill: 04 498 0212 


Vegan pies becomes a permanent fixture at Z

Due to huge demand and a petition requesting the continuation of its availability, Z Energy’s famous Mexican vegan pie will become a permanent fixture in Z stores.

In July, Z ran a ‘DIY Pie’ competition asking people to submit and then vote on their own pie recipes. With almost 4,000 recipes submitted and, with a highly organised vegan community, the winning pie was a Mexican vegan pie designed by ‘Gemma from Auckland’, which went on sale for a month starting on 28 December.

Z’s pie aficionado, Mark Forsyth, said for a company that committed to listening to its customers, it was blindingly obvious that Z’s customers had spoken.

“We’re just so pleased with the success of Gemma’s pie. It basically sold out across the country within the first week of it being stocked and we’ve struggled to keep up with demand over the rest of the month.

“We never expected to be in this position and we’re now gearing up to get the pie into permanent production. This will take a few weeks and we expect Gemma’s pie will be back in stores on a permanent basis in early March.

Mark Forsyth said Z had learned a lot about the challenges of producing vegan food throughout the process.

“In particular we’re grateful for the support and understanding of the vegan community, including Gemma, once we learned a pastry conditioner in the pies contained minute traces of an animal-derived product.

“As a result of learning about this we not only removed it from the pie, but from all of Z’s pies and we’ve taken the opportunity to review every ingredient that goes into our pies to ensure they are what people expect,” he said.

“Z’s committed to stocking a broader range of options in our stores and this pie and the process we went through while we were making it have taught us a lot and helped us take some important small steps towards that goal.”

Jonathan Hill: 04 498 0212


Helping groups do more good in their hood

Community groups doing good in their neighbourhoods can now apply for a share of more than $1 million from Z.

Applications for Good in the Hood are open from 1 to 29 February, and Z’s Community Manager Christine Langdon said this year is all about providing support to local groups, big and small, that are making a difference in their community.

Every Z station will again be giving away $5,000 to help their neighbourhoods. Of this $5,000 per station, $4,000 will be distributed between four neighbourhood groups or projects that help people who need it.

Good in the Hood is the ultimate in keeping it local, with each Z station selecting the four groups that are supported by their site in 2016, and customers then voting on them.

“There’s no way that we could know what matters to the diverse communities around New Zealand better than the locals do, which is why it’s up to our local service station teams, and our local customers, to decide what they want to support,” said Christine.

Each of the successful groups will receive a share of the $4,000 per Z site, with customers having the opportunity to decide how much each group gets by voting with an orange token each time they visit Z during May.

“The remaining $1,000 will be used by our local retailers throughout the year to support other neighbourhood projects and initiatives around each Z station.”

Applications for Good in the Hood 2016 are open for all of February. Interested groups that meet the criteria of helping people and having a specific need should visit the service station near where they operate to say hello and have a chat about the good they do.

To see what last year’s groups have been doing with their funding, or to apply to be part of the programme in 2016, visit z.co.nz/GoodintheHood.


Jonathan Hill: 021 440 090

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