Watching the World: An all-consuming need

The actual business of selling fuel to motorists, it turns out, is kind of a loss leader for the Royal Dutch/Shell Group-and, one supposes, most diversified oil companies. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant's retailing unit, in fact, only just broke even last year, according to a recent briefing by Malcolm Brinded, the group's UK country chairman, following the announcement of Shell's full-year results. To make the business profitable, Shell is launching a 3-year campaign to chop retailing costs at its 1,100-strong chain of stations by £100 million while hooking up with British supermarket chain Sainsbury's to bring in more revenue from the station forecourts.Shell's strat...

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