The petrol filling station market remained robust in 2019, showing a strong ongoing interest in the sector among investors, according to the latest Business Outlook from Christie & Co.

The report said fuel margins had remained buoyant and there had been a general upwards gross profit margin trend to meet rising costs.

"The market continues to be very strong," said Steve Rodell, Christie & Co managing director, retail. "When MFG bought MRH everyone thought a couple of big buyers had gone from the market, but there were a raft of people behind them wanting to buy sites. So while the market did feel a bit flat after that, the fundamentals of the business have remained strong. We have sold more petrol filling stations than we did in 2018, helped by sales such as the Cornwall Garage Group; and the numbers that we’re doing on the valuations are pretty strong as well.

"We supported Sewell Retail’s six-site acquisition through our valuation of the portfolio for RBS. We have also worked extensively with other leading PFS operators."

Rodell said the sale of groups that have gone from the market, such as Simon Smith, are indicative of the bigger operators’ appetites to grow, particularly those that are private-equity backed such as MFG.