Independent fuel retailers have welcomed the announcement from Shell that it is planning to sell up to 250 of its company owned sites to independent dealers.

Michael O’Loughlin, managing director of Petrogas UK, which was ranked sixth in the Forecourt Trader Top 50 Indies said: “Everyone is upbeat about it and excited about the opportunity to expand. We have a couple of Shell sites and we will definitely be putting in a bid for some more.

“Shell will benefit from this because they will see bigger volumes, and independent retailers will benefit from the opportunity to expand, but the real winners will be the consumers.

“Independent retailers really understand their customers and know what UK consumers want and will adapt the offer to them.”

Referring also to the Esso divestment of sites, which is drawing to a conclusion, he added: “The longer this game goes on the more independents are taking control of the market.”

Nick Lloyd, managing director of another Top 50 Indie Symonds Forecourts, which has two Shell sites, said: “The reasons put forward by Shell make complete sense. They have a clear strategy and they are implementing it, and as a dealer that gives me confidence in them.

“They have been very open and taken a very professional approach. They will still have a strong presence in the company owned sector, and they have some exciting developments coming through which we can learn from.”

Asked whether Symonds would be interested in acquiring any of the sites he said: “Every dealer in the UK is interested in acquiring sites at the moment.”

Earlier this week Shell revealed that it had decided to focus on fewer company owned sites and as a consequence, it plans to sell part of its company owned network – up to 250 sites – to independent dealers who will retain the Shell brand, and who can make the investments needed on those sites to ensure they remain competitive.

Shell has begun a confidential commercial process to pursue sale of the sites and aims to conclude this in 2015.