The EU referendum vote looms large this month, and despite all the talk, nobody seems any the wiser about the outcome. Even the forecourt sector seems to be as evenly divided and undecided on the matter as the rest of the nation (see News Extra page 10). But one thing is for sure, this time next month it will be behind us.

Another certainty is the positive trend in the independent petrol retailing sector. In our latest and I have to say, rather excellent annual Fuel Market Review (page 26), you can see the continued growth in the size of the dealer market: up by more than 300 sites in the past year.

Much of this has been achieved through the interest shown by private equity and institutional investment which has helped the bigger dealer groups turn into super groups, and sent out positive signals to other money lenders, so that even those lower down the rankings are constantly on the lookout for potential acquisitions and the growth opportunities presented by redeveloping their existing sites.

Other positive news from the report is last year’s record new vehicle registrations, and the 36.5 million vehicles on the road which covered more miles than ever before. That’s lot of potential for all those roadside retailers that are working hard to create more reasons for customers to come onto their forecourts and into their stores.

One such character is Nick Baker of NJB Services, who has had the ’cheek’ to create his own brand of coffee getting rid of the Costa machine in the process (see Retail Focus page 24). It all comes under the umbrella of the ’Cheeky Cafe’, which offers a varied menu to encourage his customers to spend more time on his site, while he adds more value to his business.

Other positive news this month has been the re-launch of the Murco brand (see Industry Focus, page 21), which has come out of the shadows after a long period of uncertainty with a new image and supply deals and another credible alternative for independents. See the summer is here!