Five years ago the future looked bleak for independent forecourts. A combination of fuel-efficient cars, sky-high fuel prices and, most significantly, intense pressure from supermarket petrol stations saw forecourt numbers drop to a record low of 8,400. Opportunity then arose when the majority of oil companies started to exit direct fuel retailing, leaving a significant gap in the market. Independents seized the opportunity to expand their forecourt portfolio and to rethink the business model, and forecourt retailing is now one of the most sophisticated. Particular focus has been on the convenience offer, which can include local farm produce, artisan bread, chilled and frozen food and an extensive selection of wines and craft beer. We are also now seeing collaborations with established brands such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Spar, Subway and Greggs, either as in-store or standalone with drive-thru lanes. Their association has provided a halo effect on the overall store and forecourt, making them a destination for more than just fuel.
Some key facts (April 2019)
• 8,400 fuel courts.
• Motor fuel volume of 36 billion litres.
• Total shop sales of £4.5 billion.
• 5,454 (65%) independent dealer sites.
• 50% of the sites are operated by dealer groups with three sites or more (141 groups) and sell 71% of the dealer fuel volume and 66% of the dealer shop sales.
• The hypermarkets have 1,588 (19%) of the sites with 44.8% of motor fuel sales.