Fuelforce has finally ceased trading after a difficult year in which it sold off 171 stores in deals clinched with several operators.
The sale of its remaining sites is being handled by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said the fate of Fuelforce, ranked number 13 in The Grocer’s Top 50 league of independent chains, indicated the problems retailers were encountering in the sector.
“It was arguably the last large group site operator in the forecourt industry. This is another indication that being in fuel alone is a dangerous business,” he said.
Holloway acknowledged that the company had attempted to develop a wider convenience offering, but suggested that the move came too late. “I didn’t have the perception that many of its sites were developed to hardcore convenience store standards.”
Fuelforce’s office was down to a skeleton staff and no one was available for comment as The Grocer went to press.
Although Fuelforce began the year at number 13 in The Grocer’s Top 50, it sold 22 Jet-branded sites to Somerfield in April, a further 57 to Murco in May and 25 stores to Malthurst during June and July. Then, in October, Fuelforce sold a tranche of sites to a consortium of businesses and entrepreneurs for £50m. The flurry of deals had left it with 48 mainly company-owned sites by November.
The food industry is holding it breath as it awaits government proposals which could lead to the criminalisation of using ‘pester power’ to market to children. The DTI is expected to publish its consultation on the implementation of the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive as early as next week.

The Welsh Development Agency is set to launch a major scheme to promote local artisan producers. From March 1, St David’s Day, the WDA and the Guild of Fine Food Retailers will be running a two-week promotion highlighting the winning products from the True Taste Wales Food & Drink Awards in delis and shops across the country.

More than a third of women working in the retail industry have left or are considering working flexible hours, a report by HR consultancy Hudson has found. It also revealed that 39% of female retail professionals do not expect to be working full-time in 2010 and that 62% were disappointed with their career progress.

Tesco has ditched its advertising agency, Lowe Worldwide, after 15 years. It is moving its account to a new agency which will be formed next year by Sir Frank Lowe, co-founder of Lowe Worldwide.

Morrisons has recalled its own-label profiteroles after an incorrect use-by date was put on the packaging. The product is Morrisons Fresh Cream Profiteroles 12-pack with a use-by date of December 18 and 19.

Retail sales have increased for the first time in eight months, data from the British Retail Consortium has revealed. The BRC said that like-for-like sales in November rose at an annual rate of 0.8%.
Rod Addy
No pester power
Welsh promotion
Women not happy
New ad agency
Product recalled
Retail sales up