The Top 50 Indies sector has seen plenty of activity in the past year even though many retailers have opted to upgrade their existing networks rather than splash the cash on new acquisitions.


According to the data gathered in our latest Top 50 Indies listing, published as a supplement with this issue, many retailers have been carrying out internal reviews aimed at revamping sites and expanding or improving their convenience store offerings. But a number of companies have also made a significant number of acquisitions, proving how resilent the industry is compared to others in the recession.


One of the most notable is Surrey-based State Oil Limited. Its purchase of 19 forecourts in the past 12 months has helped propel it into the listing’s top 10 for the first time.


The majority of retailers who supplied data said that they remained cautious but positive about the year ahead. And they were still open to buying new sites and expanding their networks further in 2010 but only if the right opportunities come along. Some were also looking to buy outside their existing geographical areas, including MRH (GB) according to its CEO Graham Peacock, one of the company’s key objectives for this year is to break into the market in the Republic of Ireland.


Those listed in the Top 50 Indies 2010 account for the ownership and operation of 1,180 sites in the UK 20 more than the previous year.


MRH remains top of the list but many others have changed position, including Park Garage Group, now in second place, and Irish retailer Petrogas which has jumped to number 23 (from 35 in 2009).


Some companies have also of course left the listing, such as Maljee Group as well as Sood Enterprises.


Meanwhile, we welcome five newcomers to the list: AUK Investments Ltd, Exelby Services, Krisco Services, Thames Petroleum (Scotland) Ltd and Yorkshire-based SK Fuel, the latter of which is very firmly on the acquisition trail for 2010.


Now in its fifth year, the Top 50 Indies dinner will be held at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield on March 22. As ever, the annual event will take place during the annual International Forecourt and Fuel Equipment (IFFE) show and the Convenience Retailing Show (CRS) at the Birmingham NEC from March 21-24.