West Oil Group is the most well-known brand on the Ukrainian market for fuel products. The research among car owners in 2018 (the Nielsen Shopper Trends Petrol Stations study) showed that WOG gas stations were associated with:
- high gas quality;
- tasty food in WOG Café;
- convenient and pristine stores.
The green network of gas stations is a countrywide loyalty program leader. The 52% of car owners said they were active members of the PRIDE loyalty program, while 26% considered PRIDE the most beneficial offer on the fuel market of Ukraine.
WOG Ukraine as a part of Continuum Group Ukraine
WOG Ukraine gas station network is part of the Continuum Group Ukraine. On 13 August 2015, the green brand flags were lowered at all WOG gas stations: Ihor Yeremeyev, former MP of the Verkhovna Rada and founder of Continuum, died in a Swiss clinic. The late owner of the WOG group of companies died from a fatal head injury having fallen from a horse. Following the tragedy, the co-owners of the Continuum group (WOG gas stations) Stepan Ivakhiv and Serhii Lahur faced pressure from the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. In addition, the wife of Yeremeyev (Tatyana Yeremeyeva) claimed she was forcefully removed from managing the business empire of her late husband. Yeremeyeva also complained that the right of heirs, the children of Yeremeyev, had been violated. At the same time, some media spread rumours about the imminent bankruptcy of WOG as the result of an audit in 2016 of the Continuum Group Ukraine. Journalists, associated with owners of competing gas stations, wrote that bankruptcy of the WOG gas station network was coming in a few months. At the beginning of 2020, one may say for sure, that journalists were wrong, as the WOG group of companies is not bankrupt. Moreover, the company has shown brilliant performance in 2019.
The WOG gas station network faces problems with The State Fiscal (Tax) Service of Ukraine
There had been no conflicts between The State Fiscal (Tax) Service of Ukraine and the Continuum Group for more than two decades. The Continuum Group Ukraine, since its foundation in 1992, has been growing steadily and, accordingly, has increased the amount of taxes paid to the state budget (in 2018 the company paid over 9 billion UAH in taxes). But in 2016 the Office of Large Taxpayers of the SFS filed claims of 417 million UAH against WOG Retail LLC (WOG Retail is part of the Continuum Group). Lahur, the current owner of WOG, refused to accept the claim. So the dispute between the SFS and the Continuum Group of companies was taken to the court. Continuum Group Ukraine won the case in both the first instance court and court of appeals. In 2018, the Supreme Court renewed the proceedings again. In the meantime, WOG went through all the fiscal checks from 2016 to 2019 with minor remarks.
At the same time, several large Ukrainian companies faced similar fiscal accusations in 2016:
- Telecom giant Kyivstar was forced to pay an additional 1 billion UAH to the SFS;
- The state monopoly Ukrzaliznytsia was fined 635 million UAH;
- Tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris was charged with fines of more than 2 billion UAH!
How the conflict between WOG Ukraine and the SFS influenced the work of the green gas station
In spite of pressure from the fiscal authorities, customers of this green gas station did not feel any negative consequences for themselves in terms of the quality of refuelling or service, which confirms the abovementioned study. During the three years of conflict with the tax authorities, surrounded by rumours of bankruptcy, the company has managed to:
1. Renovate, update, and build refuelling complexes;
2. Enhance customer service;
3. Implement innovative hi-tech solutions to the retail market;
4. Participate in social responsibility and charity programs; and
5. Be awarded for its contribution to the development of the national oil industry.
In 2017, the company launched a cashless payment service with the application PRIDE – WOG Pay. Due to the new product, company customers are able to:
1. Pay for fuel why staying in the car (by indicating the pump number and the quantity of fuel);
2. Avoid the queue to the cashier and pay for tea or coffee (using a QR code).
WOG Pay became the first service of its kind on the Ukrainian oil market. Shortly after the release, the innovation took second place in the nomination “Best payment solution in e-commerce” from PaySpace Magazine Awards 2017. Next year, it won the “Innovation Driver” nomination for Best Retail Project awards. The company plans to expand the list of options available for cashless payments in the app so that users could pay for all goods in company stores without the help of cashiers.
On 1 June 2017, the annual Road to the Heart charity campaign started at WOG green gas station aimed at raising funds for the purchase of medical equipment for:
1. Starozhivsky central district clinic (CDC);
2. Central Control Commission of Manevychy;
3. Kherson Central Children's Hospital;
4. Kyiv Centre for Paediatric Cardiac Surgery.
Within three months, the WOG network sold 333 806 special paper hearts worth 3 UAH each and thus collecting 1 001 418 UAH in donations. In 2018, the company received the Big Heart Award from the Best Retail Project. The organisation recognised the Road to the Heart campaign as the most ambitious charity project of the year. In 2019, the project collected 1.4 million UAH for an ultrasound machine for the Amosov Institute of Cardiology Research. The project will continue in 2020, with fundraising on the website of the Ukrainian philanthropic market already open.
WOG supports the global movement Giving Tuesday, held annually in more than 150 countries, and also took part in a charity evening organised by the Tabletochki Charity Foundation and the Zagoriy Family Foundation on 26 November 2019. During the evening, participants donated for equipment for the Okhmatdet Children's Hospital. WOG gave 2.5 million UAH to the charity that evening.
In 2020, WOG plans to develop its digital department. According to representatives of the retailer, the PRIDE app will become a marketplace of services for drivers. An impressive base of loyal customers, supreme-quality fuel, and a high level of service allow the company to develop further leaving rumours of alleged bankruptcy behind.