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Fuel for thought

Shell added some perspective to the 'electric' onslaught last month with the opening of a new hydrogen refuelling station at Shell Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. It happened in the same week as the Department for Transport confirmed a multi-million pound funding boost to increase the uptake of hydrogen.

Opportunity knocks?

With the two biggest members of Forecourt Trader's Top 50 Indies snapping up more and more of the other groups in the listing, it was only a matter of time before they began to consider the biggest deal of all, but its timing still took many people by surprise.

Electric avenues

Many forecourts owners have been looking at the various options for installing electric charging facilities, with many deciding it is too early to commit, but a Bill currently going through Parliament may force their hand.

Motoring at full speed

I f anyone thought that the rate of acquisitions by the biggest dealers during 2017 could not possibly be maintained in the New Year, then the first week of 2018 appears to have dispelled that notion. Having just snapped up 14 sites with the acquisition of the Golden Cross Group, MFG is now reported to be sizing up a bid for MRH.

Mind the gap

While Palmer and Harvey's difficulties were common knowledge they'd put out a notice about takeover talks to secure the company's future the instant termination of all deliveries when it went into administration meant forecourt owners had to scramble to keep their shops supplied.

Charging the industry

Motorway services and large petrol retailers will be forced to install charge points and hydrogen refuelling points for electric cars, under plans confirmed in the House of Commons by transport minister John Hayes.

Spending spree

By the standards of recent years the number of acquisitions by the Top 50 Indies has been quite modest since the 2017 listing was published in March. But that all changed in September, with a flurry of deals. However, with all the major sell-offs by oil companies completed, it is now smaller groups and fellow Top 50 Indies, rather than big tranches of sites, that are being snapped up.

Action on slavery

As many forecourt owners with car wash facilities know to their cost, unscrupulous hand car washes (HCWs), with no regard for labour laws or environmental regulations, can steal many of their customers away by undercutting legitimate businesses. Initially, the authorities seemed reluctant to tackle this scourge, but after intense lobbying by the PRA, and the realisation that HCWs are often involved in human trafficking and slavery, people at the very top are demanding action.

Taking the long view

The government's long-awaited plan to tackle air pollution was always going to be controversial, after the High Court had dismissed earlier proposals as not good enough, and set a deadline of July 31 for it to come up with something better. But the media storm whipped up by its UK Plan for Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Levels had little to do with its contents, and instead focused on something that will not take effect for 23 years.

Who foots the Bill?

The government's vision for the future of the road travel, which was outlined in the Queen's Speech, contained both reassurance and potential threats for the forecourt sector. The good news is that the government is clearly confident about the future of the forecourt sector, as it features in a pivotal role in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. The threat is posed by the major changes the government is planning to introduce in its determination to develop the electric and hydrogen-powered sector, and questions over who is going to pay for them.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 21 October 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East131.6457.90138.61127.24
East Midlands131.4582.90140.26127.28
London131.3759.90140.88127.80
North East130.33141.51126.31
North West130.8257.70140.42127.09
Northern Ireland129.08132.76125.41
Scotland131.52137.33126.92
South East132.2771.90140.82127.99
South West131.36137.85127.21
Wales130.48135.82126.30
West Midlands131.0761.40139.08127.20
Yorkshire & Humber130.7584.90140.34126.99

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When a major car manufacturer like Ford predicts that sales of its electrified cars will outnumber petrol and diesel models by 2022, does that ring alarm bells about the possible speed of change for forecourts?

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