The Top 50 Indies now account for almost 25% of the forecourts in the entire UK market, according to Forecourt Trader’s latest report on the biggest independent retailers.Editor Merril Boulton told an audience of more than 150 at the 2016 Top 50 Indies Dinner that between them they added 361 sites during 2015 taking the total Top 50 to 2,123 sites.

The annual dinner, held this year at the Hilton Syon Park in west London, was attended by executives from the Top 50 companies as well as key suppliers to the sector.

Guest speaker at the event was Steve Rodell, managing director of retail at property specialist Christie & Co. He said their success was attracting investment into the sector: "Forecourt operations are increasingly attractive to banks who have increased their willingness to lend into the sector at historically low interest rates.

"They are encouraging established customers to buy additional sites or invest in the existing ones. Hungry existing dealers are looking to add their second or third site. I think everyone in this room is also looking to add more sites to their portfolio."

He said demand for any available sites was extremely high, adding: "We have seen strong pricing at up to seven or eight times adjusted net profits or EBITDA."