After years of divestment, oil companies look set to shake up the petrol filling station market in 2019, according to Steve Rodell, managing director retail, at property specialist Christie & Co, in the company’s latest report on the market, entitled ’Navigate, Innovate, Accelerate’. "We could see a rash of activity from returning buyers such as Phillips 66 (Jet) and Certas Energy (Gulf)," states Rodell. "Prax Petroleum (Harvest) set the tone for oil company investment in 2018 by acquiring HKS. All are likely to increase activity in 2019."

Last year Rodell accurately predicted more group deals, with private equity playing a key role in that. The biggest deal was the acquisition of MRH (GB) by the Motor Fuel Group. The biggest surprise was the acquisition of NJB Services (four sites) by Phillips 66, indicating a change of strategy.

"Interestingly, the thing we didn’t predict was the oil companies coming in. The market has been so aggressively targeted by the mainstream oil companies. If you’re an independent dealer and you have the opportunity to have a major brand on your forecourt without disrespect to the other brands you’d probably go for those because it drives a lot of business. Cust-omers like top brands."