Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Day in the Life: David Chittenden

07 March, 2013
Buying and selling forecourts - in the UK and abroad - is part of daily life for Colliers International's David Chittenden
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My day generally starts around 6am with a stroll with the dog in Warley Woods; or Royal Warley Woods as I like to call it! It is a good way of starting the day, getting your head clear for the challenges ahead. You also meet some interesting characters and it's amazing how often the owners resemble their pets ours is a black Cockapoo (pictured below) so I will leave you to make your own judgement!

With two young children it is always a busy start to the morning, particularly as my phone generally starts ringing at around 8am. I try most days to have a list of things to do but invariably I never achieve any of these as there is always something else that takes priority and you never know what that will be until the day unfolds. I certainly always seem to be breaking my neck to get between meetings.

My wife says that I am lucky that I enjoy my job so much and I think that it comes from it being in the blood. My parents ran newsagents for 30 years in a time when Tesco was very much a 'stack it high, sell it cheap' business on the local high street. Retailing is a hard business and it taught me a lot, particularly that in order to play hard you have to work hard. I will always remember sitting with my dad on some stairs looking through those old multi-coloured plastic blinds watching shoplifters.

The sector has changed dramatically over the past 25 years and I cut my teeth during the late 1980s, under the guidance of a very good mentor, undertaking dealer security valuations for the likes of Amoco, Conoco and Elf, racking up miles from Penzance to Arbroath my Mark II Escort managed to do about 200,000 miles by the time it gave up the ghost!

We deal daily with a whole range of property matters and I get my hands dirty on issues such as Compulsory Purchase Order cases, lease renewals, rent reviews, providing advice to insolvency practitioners as well as dealing with such things as Trade Effluent consents, instructing environmental consultants or providing advice on Section 18 dilapidation claims.

Core to what we do is obviously buying and selling sites as well as undertaking over 500 valuations a year. With the financial crisis, these areas became very challenging but, as we've seen over the past 12 months, market activity has been very buoyant which we expect to continue over the next few years.

Around lunchtime I generally try and catch an hour in the gym being the finely tuned athlete that I am! From recent experience I believe that it is massively important to retain a level of fitness as it gives you a greater chance of recovery.

Our industry is full of interesting characters, and over the past 25 years I have certainly met a few. One of my stranger moments was when I met Gerald Ronson, who clearly mistook me for someone else referring to previous meetings that I was completely unaware of as I had never met him before.

While the UK provides the bread and butter for our department, where we advise a whole range of petrol retailing groups and third-party funders, Colliers International is also one of the largest global real estate advisory organisations. I provide advice to our European and Far Eastern colleagues, be it a sale and leaseback portfolio in Croatia, bank valuations in Romania, or selling motorway service areas in Northern Ireland. I also spend a lot of time now with Private Equity Groups, Venture Capitalists and institutional investors, teaching them about the fuel market. I suppose my mum and dad taught me that having a good team around you is paramount an experienced team that can provide solid, pragmatic advice and manage clients expectations. It's about not over-promising, but delivering an honest, reliable service even if the advice is not to the client's liking!

After a busy day, I am off tonight to see Joseph and his Technicoloured Dreamcoat with the kids and grandchildren, and then to give Fraser his last walk of the day trying to avoid reading my blackberry so I don't fall into another ditch!!


Name: David Chittenden

Company: Colliers International
Job title: Head of Automotive & Roadside
Career History: Started at GVA in 1989 and moved to Colliers in 1999
Greatest Achievement: Scoring six goals in the first half of a cup match and then coming off at half-time to go to my sister's 18th birthday party
Tips for business success: Average should not be considered acceptable
Most likely to say: "Sorry guys I've left my wallet in the office"
Least likely to say: "That was an easy fee"
Other interests: Family, sport, scuba diving





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Weekly Fuel Prices 19 June 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East116.8467.90123.89115.71
East Midlands116.1958.90125.25115.27
London116.5858.57125.23115.54
North East115.3759.90124.99114.79
North West116.39124.26115.33
Northern Ireland115.4264.90122.90115.05
Scotland116.4071.90125.06115.09
South East117.1163.90126.62116.05
South West116.69125.72115.56
Wales115.94123.73114.93
West Midlands116.5457.40124.97115.63
Yorkshire & Humber116.1154.90123.66115.16

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In light of the recent terror attacks and potential added threat to safety, have you issued additional security advice to staff?