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UK forecourt network shows minor fall in 2017

Released on 29/03/2018

The latest Retail Marketing Survey, conducted by the Energy Institute (EI), shows that the number of forecourts in the UK declined slightly, with 8,442 sites operating at the close of 2017. This was despite evidence of stabilisation in 2016, when 8,489 forecourts operated, up from 8,472 in 2015.

Other key findings of the survey, published as a supplement to the EI’s April issue of Petroleum Review, show:

  • UK consumer unleaded petrol prices rose from an average of 109.78 p/l in 2016 to 118.39 p/l in 2017, while the price for diesel rose from 110.52 p/l to 120.13 p/l in 2017. 
  • Some 43,132bn litres of petrol and diesel were released to the market between Jan–Nov 2017, similar to levels seen for the same period in 2016. 
  • Registered UK vehicle sales continued their record breaking trend, to reach 37.5mn vehicles on the roads by the close of 2017, a rise of 1mn from 2016. 
  • Each forecourt supplied an average of 4,442 vehicles in 2017, up from 4,300 in 2016.

The annual Retail Marketing Survey provides a comprehensive, statistical overview of the UK forecourt market. Data is broken down by company, region and forecourt facilities. This year’s survey is based on statistics relating to end-2017 and does not reflect changes since that date. The figures are cross-checked with numbers from market analyst Experian Catalist. 

The survey also provides insight into market share:

  • Site number breakdown by fuel retail brand in 2017:
    • BP continues to lead the forecourt branding field, topping the listing with:
    • 1,292 outlets (up from 1,278 in 2016)
    • Esso secured second place, with 1,093 branded sites (1,081 in 2016)
    • Shell was in third position, with 1,042 branded forecourts (1,029 in 2016)
    • Texaco was ranked fourth, with 739 branded service stations (768 in 2016)
  • The supermarket sector continues to hold the leading market share – 46%; with dealer sites holding 38% and company sites the remaining 16%.
    • Tesco – 505 sites (504 in 2016)
    • Morrisons – 333 (333 in 2016)
    • Asda – 318 (304 in 2016) – pushing Sainsbury’s into fourth place compared to 2016
    • Sainsbury’s – 311 (306 in 2016)
  • The small and unbranded sector, which makes up the balance of the UK network, numbered 703 by year-end (710 in 2016)

This year’s supplement also includes articles looking at how UK fuel retailers are adapting their offerings to remain competitive, while keeping an eye on macro-trends such as government legislation banning the sale of new petrol and diesel powered cars and vans from 2040, digitalisation and the rise of electric vehicles, which may change the game in the long term. It also reviews the work of the Energy Institute’s Service Station Panel, which develops guidance reflecting good industry practice for the fuel retail sector in the UK and internationally.


Notes for editors

1. For media enquiries please contact Neil Michie on +44 (0)20 7467 7132 or 

2. The 2018 Retail Marketing Survey is available at: 

3. Information about the work the Energy Institute undertakes around road fuels can be found at  

4.The Energy Institute is the chartered professional membership body bringing global energy expertise together.

We’re a unique network with insight spanning the world of energy, from conventional oil and gas to the most innovative renewable and energy efficient technologies.

The global energy industry, the people working in it and wider society all benefit from the EI’s work. 

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