Fuelforce, one of the UK’s largest independent forecourt operators, looks poised to exit retailing after selling the bulk of its remaining estate in a deal worth £50m.
Speculation that Fuelforce was looking for a way out was already rife after the chain - number 13 in The Grocer’s last Top 50 table of independent retailers with 165 stores and sales of £68.9m - sold more than 100 outlets in the spring.
Now most of its remaining estate, scattered across England and Scotland, has been bought by a consortium of businesses and entrepreneurs.
The buyers include private investors, Bank of Scotland Corporate, venture capitalist Joint Ventures and Paradigm Real Estate Managers.
Solicitors Maclay Murray & Spens acted for it and said Fuelforce still retained some stores, but declined to reveal how many.
Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association, attributed Fuelforce’s decline to its retail development strategy.
He said its decision to lease out stores under franchise had diluted their value, while the cost of building its retail portfolio plus subsequent lack of investment could have hit performance. Location of sites may have been another damaging factor, said Holloway.
He added that the deal could benefit some independents. “Individuals operating four or five forecourts have a great opportunity to buy sites.”
Separately, 14 more forecourt stores are to adopt the Londis fascia after Texaco sold them to Global Natural Energy, the parent company of Londis member Petrol Express.
Rod Addy
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