euro garages

Sales of petrol forecourts in the UK reached a post-recession record in 2016 with more first-time buyers looking to enter the market, according to a new report from Christie & Co.

The property expert said it sold more forecourts than in any other year, up by 75% from 2015, with new businesses “willing to pay a premium to get there”.

It said the forecourt market was driven by four private equity-backed “super dealers”, and oil companies turning to independent dealers for growth.

“Convenience retail remains at the centre of many multiple operators’ growth strategies, with fresh produce and ‘food-to-go’ driving profitability,” said Christie & Co managing director for retail Steve Rodell.

The yearly Business Outlook report found the independent dealer market “is heated” as “not enough quality sites” are available.

“Petrol station transactions, excluding oil company disposals, were at a post-recession record in 2016 and Christie & Co sold more petrol stations than in any other year,” said Rodell.

Euro Garages’ trial with Sainsbury’s would likely see other “leading independent dealers become supermarket-branded franchisees” in 2017, he added.

The relaxation of regulations on the development of new motorway services would mean operators would be able to build a site “more or less anywhere” in 2017, the report found.

“Furthermore, due to regulation being lifted on new motorway service areas (MSAs), we expect MSA operators to announce the development of greenfield sites to include not only new filling stations but also casual dining and coffee outlets,” said Rodell.

“We therefore expect strong levels of activity in the market to continue into 2017.”