FT 2022 Spec Reg award Yogab small

Last year’s Special Recognition Award winner Yogan Yoganathan

We are seeking your vote for Forecourt Trader of the Year’s Special Recognition award, which is run in conjunction with principal sponsor, Booker Retail Partners, and is voted for by the readers of Forecourt Trader.

The category aims to highlight the person/people who are setting standards, blazing a trail, displaying ingenuity, success in adversity, or are in some way worthy of recognition for their achievements in the forecourt retailing sector.

Past winners include Patrick Sewell, Ken Kay, David Penny, David Charman and last year’s winner Yogan Yoganathan.

This year there are six candidates to choose from:

Darren Briggs

 Darren Briggs, Ascona Group

Darren founded Ascona Group in 2011 in his home county of Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales. He began his career in the industry with roles at Elf Oil UK and Total UK, before founding BigOil.net in 2004, which he sold to the PRA in 2008.

In 2018, Darren and his team at Ascona embarked on a high-growth strategy and have since taken the group from two sites in Pembrokeshire to a growing portfolio across the UK – 62 at the last count.

Darren has recently been very vocal across the media, defending independent retailers who have faced accusations of profiteering as fuel prices soared to record levels, explaining how difficult it is to remain competitive at the pump.



 Rob Exelby, Exelby Services

Rob Exelby, managing director of Forecourt Trader of the Year winner Exelby Services, began working for the family company when he was 14, when his dad Mike ran the business.

After graduating as a mechanical engineer he then worked at an engineering firm for three years before returning to Exelby Services.

A track record of reveloping and updating sites culminated last year in the redeveloped A19 North Services wining the Forecourt Trader of the Year Award and Rob has not finished yet.

Sustainability and environment issues are important to the company – and to Rob too – with sites doing their bit to offset carbon emissions. But Rob has gone much further than this with the recent announcement that Exelby Services is partnering with hydrogen refuelling specialist Element 2 to develop two hydrogen refuelling stations.


FT - Toddington Harper, Gridserve

 Toddington Harper, Gridserve

Toddington Harper is the founder and CEO of Gridserve, and is on a mission is to move the needle on climate change, with a ‘sun-to-wheel’ strategy. His company is building a network of more than 100 ‘Electric Forecourts’ to be developed in the next few years, as part of a £1bn programme to help make EV driving an enjoyable, ultra-convenient and stress-free experience.

Two have already been completed – at Braintree in Essex, and in Norwich. They aim to deliver the latest charging technology, supplied by 100% renewable energy (the company also has solar energy farms), and are designed to help pave the way for mass EV adoption well ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

Gridserve is also working with motorway services operator Moto, and recently announced the launch of its seventh Electric Super Hub. Gridserve is also committed to expanding the Gridserve Electric Highway, a UK-wide charging network transformed by Gridserve since acquiring it in 2021.



 Lee Mohamed, Londis Fitch’s

Lee Mohamed has been in the petrol industry for some 35 years with his brother Arif. Between them, they have owned and operated many sites and during this period they have seen their businesses grow from strength to strength.

Lee and his business partner built up an extensive network of more than 20 forecourt sites across the UK, and after selling the business in 2017, Lee and Arif decided to refocus on the three sites they retained.

Over the past four years, Lee and Arif have invested significantly in all three sites, redeveloping the external forecourt areas, and shop retail. Extensive Food to Go options have been introduced at all sites, and food partners including Stone Willy’s, West Cornwall Pasty Co, Costa, Tango Ice Blast and others, all added to the store propositions.

In autumn 2022, Lee plans to redevelop a site he already owns which has been operating as a hand car wash for a number of years. The learnings from the past four years’ investment will be incorporated into this new site.



 Ron Perry, Ron Perry & Son

Ron Perry’s first involvement into the petrol forecourt world was in 1976 when he started a recovery service business from an upstairs room at a site situated on the A19 northbound, Elwick near Hartlepool. At the time, the site was managed under licence from Esso by his father Ronald Charles Perry along with a second site situated opposite on the A19 Southbound.

In 1983, Ron junior took over the sole management of both sites under a licence agreement with Esso and in 1997 full ownership was completed. Since 1976, the business has been operated with at least one family member at all times and now involves Ron’s wife Lesley as finance manager, son Dan as operations manager and daughter Anne Marie as payroll manager with Ron as managing director.

Numerous shop rebuilds and ever expanding floor space, along with up-to-date store designs and latest trends continue to evolve the family business.

Ron, Lesley, Dan and Anne Marie – along with all their staff – plan to ensure that Ron Perry & Son continues to evolve into a business that supports not just their local and transient customer needs, but the environment too. That’s why plans to introduce EV and hydrogen power are well under way ensuring that the future for this family run business is in great shape for their next generation.



 Kurt Williams, DK Forecourts

Kurt Williams has always been at the coalface of his business, from a young age working in a vehicle workshop in the South Wales Valleys. Starting off as a pump attendant he went from filling up the local vehicles, working the pumps and then keeping the vehicles on the road with his workshop to owning his first forecourt while still in his 20s and that was the start of the DK Group.

The portfolio today includes a number of directly owned and operated forecourts, with a knock down rebuild planned in the future. Kurt has revived the fortunes of sites that have become derelict and those that have been close to liquidation as well as existing thriving businesses and developed them even further.

A particular proud and standout achievement, the derelict Barry site being bought and developed into a thriving 24-hour food to go destination, all project managed entirely by Kurt.

As a well-known and respected figure in the industry, Kurt has been asked to speak on issues in the fuel industry in many national wide forums, also including radio and television. Always bringing clarity and insight when he speaks to highlight the business and fuel issues that he has a passionate, knowledgeable and Welsh perspective on.

In 2016, his son Scott joined him in the business and the DK Forecourts journey has continued with a focus on delivering the best range, prices and service for the local communities they operate within. There has been continued reinvestment into the business, always embracing new trends and willing to improve in technology, operations and structure.

To find out more about the nominees and register your vote go to the Special Recognition page of the Forecourt Trader of the Year website