John Darke Ltd is about to celebrate its first anniversary as a Gulf service station having previously been the largest site in the Total dealer network.

The family owned business on the A16 Grimsby Road in Louth, Lincolnshire, switched to Gulf in March 2013, and has been rewarded with increased fuel and shop sales.

Colin Darke , who with his brother Clive has managed the business since 1972 following the death of their father, said it was a natural move for the business, allowing them to revitalise the forecourt image while maintaining continuity with their fuel supplier Certas Energy, its order office, tanker drivers and area manager.

“We have been well served by Certas and its staff and those relationships continue,” said Colin. “We take deliveries at least every other day which means that a strong rapport with the order office and a good delivery service are essential to our business. The only unknown was the impact of the change of brand on sales but our experience, which dates back to the Regent Oil Company, told us that volumes would stay strong and so it proved.

“We’ve enjoyed a 3% rise in fuel and shop sales which we attribute to the new Gulf image but what has really surprised us after 10 years with Total is just how few customers have commented on the change, probably less than a dozen in almost a year.”

The forecourt shop was redeveloped in 2004, doubling its size and presenting the brothers with an opportunity to grow convenience turnover. That growth continues, boosted more recently by the introduction of the Today’s Express brand, which has seen annual shop turnover hit £700,000.