Gerald Ronson, the pioneer of self-service petrol stations in the UK and chairman of Rontec today celebrated 50 years in roadside retailing. He marked the golden milestone at a lunch attended by long-serving colleagues, family, industry giants, suppliers and business partners.

Ronson launched his first petrol station in St Albans on March 24, 1966 and has since built over 1,000 service stations. The acquisition of Total UK’s retail network in 2012 signalled his return to the sector in scale and Rontec has since become a £1 billion-plus turnover business – one of the largest independent roadside retailers in the UK.

"It is a fantastic business - seven days a week, 365 days a year, the cash is pumping 24 hours-a-day," he said. “Petrol retailing is in my DNA, and whilst it is my hobby, it is a business that I am deadly serious about. It combines my love of property and business expertise. The public can’t do without petrol for the foreseeable future, and it is a highly dynamic sector. Retail is detail and it’s the small things that keep people coming back time and time again.

He said balancing fuel, brand and retail was a rare skill, one which his management team has been honing over the past half century. "It is what sets us apart from the rest – our unique competitive advantage – and it only comes with time and experience.

“The business we have built reflects our hard work... I am very proud of what we have achieved but watch this space because our journey is not over yet.”