Reasonably-price forecourts are hard to find in the UK, according to Zuber Issa, co-founder and co-ceo of Euro Garages - which trades as the EG Group Ltd in Europe
- which has recently boosted its European network by 1,000 with the purchase of ExxonMobil’s retail assets in Germany.
“The UK market has seen a phenomenal level of interest in acquiring forecourt retail assets,” he said, in an interview which appears in the December issue of Forecourt Trader.
“Independent operators have realised significant value for their assets as some have wanted to exit. Now it’s hard to get sites in the UK at a reasonable price.
“A lot of people are paying premium prices for sites – and good luck to those who are able to achieve those premium prices. But is it going to last forever?
“At the moment we’re investing our money in Europe. Our network beyond the UK covers France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany; and the acquisitions are continuing.”
The EG Group network now stands at 3,500 sites across Europe, and employs 12,500 people.
But when Zuber and his brother Mohsin set up the company in 2001, Europe certainly wasn’t on their minds: “When we named it Euro Garages, was it by chance or a vision of the future? said Zuber. “Our aspiration was to own and operate a single site, that became three, then five and at the time we would have been happy to own and operate at least 10. Europe wasn’t on the horizon!”
As for the future, with the advent of electric vehicles, Zuber said: “There’s going to be change on the forecourt and we’ve all got to start looking at it. When you look at why people stop at service stations, it’s more about comfort breaks than anything else – the welfare aspect would be the biggest thing going forward now for forecourts.
“Like any business you need to be seen to be adding value to the consumer offer, if you don’t move with the times, the trends, and the consumer, then your days are numbered.”