Shane Bowering is now heading up the Pace brand as development manager as it closes in on its 50th anniversary. The brand was established in 1972 and has been managed by Certas Energy since 2011. In its formative years Pace was closely associated with Aston Martin and Nigel Mansell’s early Formula One career. Today, there are around 140 Pace-branded UK forecourts.

Bowering says: "These are traditionally lower-volume forecourts that have achieved success in a contracting market by developing a reputation for excellent service across a range of motoring-related activities. We see the Pace brand as being an ideal solution for a petrol retailer who wants the security and support of a contracted relationship, but does not necessarily fit with those global brands that appear inherently inflexible.

"Smaller family-owned forecourt operations have often been avoided by the oil majors and the loyalty of businesses such as Cresswells and E W Pinchbeck, Pace dealers for more than 40 years, says everything about Pace, its people, its operation and the support it provides to fuel retailers. Whatever the market conditions, in good times and in bad, Pace is there, trusted and dependable."

Bowering says that for dealers operating tight forecourts and sharing space with car sales, workshops, MOT bays etc, the timing of deliveries and a local understanding of tank sizes and vehicle size and accessibility are essential to a smooth operation: "Pace is a proven master," he stresses. "We have our own multi-sized fleet of vehicles and an understanding and sympathetic order office. Our focus has always been on how we can support the overall business to achieve its potential. It’s a much more pragmatic and flexible approach. That flexibility extends from orders to deliveries, vehicle and load sizes, contracts and forecourt branding options. Add to that competitive margins, experienced area managers, a successful bunkering service and probably the best credit card polling packages in the industry!"

Eddie Pinchbeck is a good example of a Pace dealer, says Bowering: "His impressive operation incorporates new and used car sales, MOT and servicing, car spares and body shop. It’s the sum of the parts that, for this and many other smaller throughput forecourts, translates into a profitable and successful business."

An integral part of the local community, this family-run business has been providing a range of motor-related services to its customers since 1927. At the heart of the operation is its Pace-branded forecourt. Eddie Pinchbeck, 80, first signed with Pace in 1972, the year the brand entered the UK fuel market. "Why would we change suppliers?" asks Eddie, who still opens the site each morning at 7am sharp. "Pace understands our business and provides us with a service that is uncomplicated and in tune with our requirements." Pace’s recently revitalised forecourt branding will be applied to the site in the next couple of months to enhance the look and feel. Eddie and his family are also set to refurbish their convenience shop.

"We are all excited by the shop redevelopment and its potential," says Bowering. "This latest initiative will significantly boost revenues and attract new business to the site. Pace will utilise its relationships with the leading symbol groups to enable the Pinchbecks to maximise sales and margins as their convenience store doubles in size."

Cresswells Garage, Finchampstead, Wokingham, situated at the fork of two busy B-roads and adjacent to a parade of shops is a traditional family-run business that combines its forecourt with workshops, tyre bay and an MOT centre. Established in 1923, the business comprises nine members of staff including an apprentice and four qualified mechanics with three generations of the Cresswells on hand to deliver the highest levels of customer service. Trevor runs the operation, his father Colin is always close at hand and his grandson, Jonathan, is now a full time member of the family business. "The forecourt is very important to our overall operation and we are well-served by Pace and our area manager, Peter Goemans," says Trevor. "We currently open six days a week and pump 1.7mlpa, although we have plans, utilising the pay-at-pump expertise within Certas Energy, to introduce a 24-hour service. We are always looking to future proof the business and recently installed two electric chargers that already serve around 20 customers a week."