Irish Shell has sold its 12 company-owned service stations in Northern Ireland to the Henderson Group. Henderson’s will buy the sites as going concerns and Shell will continue to supply fuel and lubricants to the forecourts.

John McDonagh, retail director and chairman for Shell in Ireland, explains the strategy behind the sale: “The decision to sell these sites is driven by our determination to build a business that is profitable and sustainable for the future.

“The Shell service stations which are owned and operated by dealers have traditionally out-performed our company-owned sites. We needed to find a way to reduce costs in our own network if we were to remain competitive. Selling our company-owned sites will not only reduce our capital base, but will enable us to focus on our dealer network in Northern Ireland, which continues to perform very well.

“Henderson’s is a well-established local company that wants to grow its convenience retail business and plans to invest a significant sum in the sites. This deal marks a long-term partnership in which Henderson’s will procure fuel and lubricants for these service stations from Shell, while we retain a significant presence in the fuel retailing market in Northern Ireland.”

The Henderson Group, through its retail company, Andrew Millar & Co, currently owns and operates 40 petrol forecourts and convenience stores across Northern Ireland. Geoffrey Agnew, managing director of Andrew Millar & Co, said: “The acquisition of these Shell sites will enable us to grow our forecourt convenience business and bring economy of scale benefits to our petrol retailing network.

“We plan to make a significant investment across these sites, generating additional employment opportunities and further demonstrating our confidence in this sector.”

All employees currently employed at the sites are covered by TUPE and will transfer to the Henderson Group.