Forecourt operator MRH (GB) has warned trading will remain "difficult" throughout 2011 after reporting a 28% dip in profits to £18.2m for the year to 26 September 2010.

Sales for the period rose 14.2% to £1.4bn, according to accounts at Companies House. "The demand for automotive fuels declined for the second successive year," the directors wrote. "We expect trading conditions to be difficult this year, with pressures on sales volumes and margins across the industry."

The figures come as the company formed in 2007 to acquire Pace Petroleum and Malthurst Group revealed it had sold its Pace Fuelcare oil distribution business to DCC Energy, the Irish owner of GB Oils, for 27.7m. Pace Fuelcare sold 515 million litres of fuel to independent stations last year. GB Oils supplies 900 indies, including 250 Gulf-branded stations.

"Pace will further enhance DCC's oil distribution business in Britain, bringing its market share to approximately 15%," said DCC chief executive Tommy Breen. "Pace has particular strength distributing transport fuels in southern England."

MRH has also made its first acquisition in the Channel Islands, buying three forecourts from Roberts Garages on Jersey.