Spar has become the latest symbol fascia to launch an own-brand full forecourt offer.

The symbol group, already the biggest symbol operator in the forecourt sector with 700 stores, agreed a partnership with Harvest Energy last week.

Unveiling the offer at the National Convenience Show in Birmingham this week, Spar business development controller Mark Steven said it was already in talks to open the first three sites.

Retailers will be able to run fully Spar-branded forecourt sites, including the sign pole and canopy. However, Steven said the offer would be “very flexible” and retailers could choose whether they wanted the full offer, or a Harvest forecourt with a Spar-branded shop.Shoppers would also be able to benefit from cross-promotions between the shop and fuel.

“We’re the biggest symbol on the forecourt, and Harvest is the fastest-growing fuel supplier, so it’s a perfect marriage,” Steven said. “Indies feel unloved by the big oil companies so this will make them more competitive.” Ian Welch, manager of key accounts at Harvest Energy, added: “We have grown rapidly in the sector but haven’t done as much as we could have with our store offer, so linking up with Spar means we can bring a strong symbol brand to our forecourts.”

Harvest Energy currently has 108 sites across the UK and is aiming for 350 within the next five years. It is already working with Budgens, Londis and Midlands Co-op.

Steven added that reaction to the partnership at the NCS had been “very, very positive”. “We’ve had lots of interest, especially because of the cross-promotion side.”

Spar is the second symbol group in as many months to launch a full forecourt offer. In February, Nisa announced a tie-up with Greenergy. The first site opened last month in Wrexham.

The launches follow a report by Him! last month that predicted the forecourt sector would be the “next big battleground” for symbol operators. Its Future of Convenience report said the number of symbol forecourts was growing at 14% year-on-year and predicted that by 2020 there would be more forecourts with a retail fascia than without.