It’s hard to believe that such a long-established company as Palmer and Harvey which was firmly entrenched in the life of many forecourt operations over a considerable period is no longer (see News Extra, page 10). I really feel for the hard-working and long-suffering staff, who invested considerable effort in trying to make things work especially those who had sizeable financial investment at stake. The once-busy warehouses, and trucks emblazoned with the familiar P&H logo, are now standing idle.

There will be many an inquest within the industry about what led to the ultimate collapse, which seemed to happen very suddenly and shockingly, although the company’s long-running troubles had been well publicised. Reports suggest the collapse is likely to be investigated by MPs as concern mounts about an apparently huge pension fund deficit estimated at about £80m. How absolutely sickening.

Understandably those affected want to vent their anger at something or someone. I hope they get their day in court. But it seems the unravelling of the company could have begun many years ago, with a multitude of factors, including changing market forces and some bad decisions, ultimately causing a weak situation to spiral out of control. No doubt more will be revealed in the coming months. In terms of the retailer operations it couldn’t have come at a worse time of year, with Christmas approaching, but it seems there are plenty of suppliers ready to step into Palmer & Harvey’s shoes and that was obviously one of the problems!

Elsewhere we’ve had the budget, with continuing negative pressure on diesel fuel though not as tough as it might have been; as well as a greater push towards the age of electric vehicles. Quite worrying though to hear Jamie Thompson, chair of the APEA technical committee (see News page 4, and online) at the recent APEA conference, talk about his concern at EV charging installations on forecourts. Charging points must be situated outside hazardous areas, he says. Oops! Stand by for the APEA guidance.

In the meantime I hope you all have a busy and profitable festive season. Bring on 2018!