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Merril Boulton: editor

If the start of 2018 is anything to go by, it's going to be another lively year in the forecourt sector. I guess we've got somewhat used to the bigger fishes in the pond buying the smaller ones, and to this end we saw MFG adding to its numbers with 14 sites from the Golden Cross Group; and also Harvest Energy buying Retail Fuels Ltd and gaining nine sites. With prices so high is there a peak in sight? Who can blame retailers for selling up while the going is good, even though it might not have been in their original plans (see Focus on Property, page 32)? But with all these great companies and characters disappearing from our Top 50 Indies listing, where can a big acquisitive group go next? Ah yes, make a play for one that's even bigger as in MFG, reported to be weighing up a bid for MRH.

James Lowman: chief executive, ACS

You may have seen and heard ACS in the media over Christmas talking about some changes to the way the police, courts and government are responding to shop theft. There are a couple of separate issues at play here.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus

Brent crude and wholesale gasoil prices ended 2017 at their highest since May 2015. UK drivers are paying more for diesel than they have in three years, with petrol not far behind. Falling crude stocks in the US were the immediate reason for the Brent price rising past $66.50/bl at the start of January, and several days of protests in Iran are adding a geopolitical risk premium, although output has not been affected.

Kevin Eastwood: BOSS

Kevin Eastwood

BOSS Executive Director

Tracy West: retail commentator

Life is all about choice but increasingly choices are being taken away from us apparently for our own good.

Merril Boulton: Editor

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.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

This government has a clear view that our future economic prosperity will be assured if the UK can emerge as global leaders in the race to a new transportation era. This involves automated vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Opec and its non-Opec partners decided on November 30 to extend their production cuts for another nine months, until the end of next year. Expectations of the deal had been keeping crude futures prices above $63/bl since November 22, supporting road fuel prices.

David Charman: md Parkfoot Garage

As we head towards another busy Christmas period, it's time to reflect on the past year and try to make sense of what 2018 will bring to our ever-surprising business sector.

Tracy West: Retail commentator

This Christmas your present, as an independent retailer, should arrive on Christmas Eve. It will hopefully come in the form of the extra trade you'll get once the grocery multiples shut their doors, typically at 4pm. And that is, of course, because of our Sunday Trading Laws and the fact that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 10 February 2020
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East Midlands129.4868.90139.04125.87
North East127.6463.90137.79124.24
North West128.7161.90138.29125.24
Northern Ireland126.52131.30123.30
South East130.6866.90139.77126.86
South West129.48136.50125.54
West Midlands129.5665.90139.76125.95
Yorkshire & Humber128.82139.37125.16

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