The independent sector is alive, well and doing rather nicely - some would even say resurgent ...

John Lynn, Chevron’s vice president of marketing in Europe, told a packed house at the Top Indies dinner in Coventry on March 6.

"The death of the independent has been much heralded down the years... but the pairing of effective entrepreneurs with supportive and proactive oil company suppliers is still a potent one - and one we will be advocating at Chevron," he said.

The dinner marked the publication of the latest Top 50 Indies listing which was headed by Graham Peacock of Malthurst. Independent retailers gathered for the event at the Forest of Arden Hotel, and a great time was had by all.

The occasion coincided with the International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment (IFFE)show 2007, running from March 6-8 at the NEC in Birmingham, which has been a huge hit with visitors and exhibitors alike.

Gordon Scott from Central Filling Station travelled all the way from Aberdeen to visit the exhibition. He said: "It’s worth coming to find out what’s happening in the market. I was looking for car washes and epos systems and there was loads to see."

One particularly busy stand was Washtec’s, which was awash with visitors clambering to enter the free prize draw where they could win a Softwash car wash, worth in excess of £50,000. Marketing manager, Dawn Frazer, commented: "We’ve been really busy. Dealers have been coming along to talk to our staff and to see our equipment. We had car washes on display and retailers have said how useful it was to see the actual machines. And of course they all wanted to enter the draw to win the car wash."

Another busy stand was the Pace/Mobil one. Pace marketing manager, Ian Rose, said having an F1 car at the entrance to IFFE had worked brilliantly in drawing people to the stand. "The fact that visitors could drive a simulator version of the car when they got to the stand gave them a reason to visit us and once they were here we could talk to them about the brand. It’s definitely been a good brand-building exercise. Dealers have been willing to listen and have taken away information.We’ve had a really busy show; it’s been great."

David Barrett, BP’s general manager for global franchise development, said exhibiting at IFFE had been a very positive experience: "It’s been doubly good for us. Firstly as we’ve been promoting the franchise opportunity to forecourt retailers and secondly as we’ve been promoting the award-winning Wild Bean Cafe by providing visitors with refreshments."

Finally first-time exhibitor Unipart said IFFE had been fantastic. Sales director Tony Sackett commented: "We’ve had a good number of leads with retailers particularly interested in our special stand deals."