Sales of petrol stations hit a post-recession record last year, as retail property prices bounced back to 2007 levels – buoyed by an increase of 8.8% on 2015 - according to Steve Rodell, head of retail at Christie & Co, which claims to have sold more petrol stations than ever before.

“During 2016 the forecourt market was driven by - at the top end - four private equity-backed ‘super dealers’,” he said.

“Petrol station transactions - excluding oil company disposals - were at a post-recession record in 2016. The oil companies are now turning to the independent dealer sector for growth in their supply arrangements and first time buyers are also keen to enter the market, with bank funding widely available. This looks set to continue into 2017.”

He said convenience retail remained at the centre of many multiple operators’ growth strategies with fresh produce and ‘food-to-go’ driving profitability.

“Euro Garages announced their trial with Sainsbury’s in October and we are likely to see some of the other leading independent dealers become supermarket branded franchisees in 2017.

“Furthermore, due to regulation being lifted on new motorway service areas (MSAs), we expect MSA operators to announce the development of greenfield sites to include not only new filling stations but also casual dining and coffee outlets. We therefore expect strong levels of activity in the market to continue into 2017.”