An e-mail poll of The Grocer's Reader Panel of the Top 50 privately owned grocers found that, although only 12% of them had forecourt sites, nearly 40%, were actively targeting the forecourt sector as a way of expanding their business.
Most were willing to consider a partnership with an oil company as a means of expansion.
While 37% said they would not enter a partnership, the same proportion said they would definitely consider it and a further 26% would not rule it out.
Said one: "We wouldn't consider a partnership with one of the major oil companies, but we would with existing petrol retailers."
However, none of our Top 50 retailers viewed the big oil firms' convenience stores as a threat to their business.
One commented: "They aren't a threat now, but they could be if they had the right consumer offer."
Another added: "They aren't a threat but supermarkets' linking up with the oil companies are."