Essar UK has put the target for expansion of its retail network to 400 outlets back to five years. The news came shortly after the company revealed plans to open its first company-owned site.

A spokesman said the company-owned site was a former Gulf forecourt which had been closed for some time, and was on the A5117, only yards from Essar’s refinery at Ellesmere Port.

He said the new development would be a flagship site and that Essar would be making other strategic acquisitions.

The first Essar-branded forecourt opened in November 2015 and last year it said it planned to grow its retail network to 400 sites in three years.

Following the release of its annual results, Essar Oil UK chief executive S Thangapandia said: "From 39 outlets currently, we are looking at reaching around 55-60 outlets by the end of this year and have set a target to ramp it up to 400 outlets in five years.

"We are still deciding on the ownership model of these outlets."