Forecourt Trader has just published the 2020 edition of its Top Fifty Indies listing, which contains six new entries.

Three of the new entries are replacing companies which have been swallowed up by fellow Top 50 Indies, with MFG taking over over Symonds Forecourts and Simon Smith Retail, while Ascona Group acquired Cornwall Garages Group.

The other three departures from the listing were a result of a re-evaluation of the rules for qualification. One of the primary criteria for the Top 50 Indies was to celebrate forecourt operators which were independent of the main oil companies. This has meant the biggest oil companies have never been included, but over the years some of the smaller oil companies, which also own groups of forecourts, have become part of the listing.

This year, however, we have decided to take a strict interpretation of a second criteria for qualification for the Top 50, that a company’s primary business must be operating forecourts. For this reason Harvest Energy, Highland Fuels and Local Fuel’s Pricewatch are no longer included in the Top 50.

At the top of the listing there has been no change. In the number one spot with 903 sites is MFG, which has more than double the number of UK forecourts of its nearest competitor, EG Group, which has been focusing on building its overseas business and has 384 UK sites.

In third place, Rontec has achieved a net increase of 16 sites to 259 since last year’s listing, and fourth-ranked Applegreen is the only other Top 50 Indie with more than 100 sites with 114.

Below the big four, other companies in the Top 10 have put on impressive growth. In fifth and sixth position, Penny Petroleum and SGN added 10 and 13 sites respectively, to reach 62 and 58. Ascona achieved the greatest increase in the Top 50, adding 34 sites to finish in ninth position with 45 sites. Outside the top 10 notable growth was achieved by Karan Retail, which added five sites, NTS increased its estate by four sites, and AK Fuel moved up from the bubbling under section and was a new entry at 30, after adding four sites.

The other new entries were Niza Superstores (Eastbourne), Midland Motor Company, Kilrea Service Station and Krisco Services Group, which all have six sites, and Exelby Services with five.