Fuel sales have risen 26% at eight former Calanike filling stations in the Scottish central belt since they were taken over by Certas Energy 18 months ago. The sites, which were previously supplied by Esso and BP, were re-branded Gulf and improvements were made to presentation, appearance and general customer service.

New back-office systems have been installed and some shops redeveloped but largely they were just smartened up in conjunction with Londis.

The increase in fuel sales has been achieved despite significant down time on each of the sites as the decision was made to prolong their life by re-lining all the fuel tanks.

Ramsay MacDonald, retail director, Certas Energy, said the company is using the lessons learned from running its own sites to help its dealers.

"It’s been invaluable, providing us with even greater knowledge and experience of the operational side of running a filling station," he explained. "Dealers respect that we understand what it takes to protect and strengthen the asset value of a forecourt. It also reassures them of our commitment as a petrol retailing operation in the UK."

He said the sites were also an ideal platform for Certas Energy to test market anything from forecourt promotions and back-office systems, to storage tank re-lines and HSSE issues before they are rolled out toits dealers.