Independent Spar retailer Alfred Jones has blamed falling petrol sales for a below-inflation rise in profit and turnover. Net profit at the 75-store north west chain rose 0.8% to £446,269 on turnover up 1.5% to £111m in the year to April.

Fuel sales at its 19 forecourts had dropped from £46m to £40m as the rising cost of fuel forced cars off the road, said MD Tom Calderbank. The company is spending £12m refitting nine stores this financial year, six of which have been completed and are showing increased profits. He plans to open 25 stores in the next five years.