Growth in forecourt property values has more than doubled in the past year, according to agents Christie & Co.

Average retail property values rose by 5.9% in 2006 - down from 7.9% in 2005, the company reported. But the forecourt sector easily out-performed this, recording double-digit percentage growth, said Allen Shepherd, Christie’s associate director, corporate retail.

Speaking at the launch of the company’s Business Outlook 2007 report, Shepherd said the market had been very active for independents: "There were a lot of opportunities last year for indies to acquire some good, high-volume sites where they can develop a good convenience offer."

He added that 2007 would see big-name investors from continental Europe moving into the UK forecourt and convenience sectors: "We’ve been approached by experienced multiple operators from abroad who are looking to roll out trial concepts in the UK this year," he revealed.

The top 50 independent operators are also expected to bolster their site numbers by acquiring smaller groups and package deals from the oil companies, while the symbol groups will continue to compete to expand their forecourt presence, said Shepherd.

- Christie & Co’s Bristol office recently sold the Pen Y Fai Service Station near Bridgend, which had an asking price of £750,000. The buyers are local businessmen, Andrew Leyshon and Robert Flint, who plan to continue running the site’s car showroom, and to develop the convenience side of the business and forecourt with a re-brand.