Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bank's PS1m Boost for Petrol Station Company; RETAIL

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bank's PS1m Boost for Petrol Station Company; RETAIL

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

AGROUP operating petrol retail stations across the North is expanding its portfolio after Santander pumped in a funding package worth more than PS1m.

Powburn-based Penny Petroleum currently has 28 petrol retail stations, but is now set to buy three more in County Durham and Tyneside following the package from Santander Corporate and Commercial, worth in excess of PS1m.

David Penny, owner of Penny Petroleum, has been trading for 21 years and has ambitions for the group to become one of the largest independent operators in the sector.

The funding paves the way for the purchase of the new sites, as well as refurbishing some existing sites, a move which will create "significant" numbers of new jobs at the firm, which already employs 250 people. Mr Penny said he puts the firm's success down to its unusual business model, which seeks to offer eclectic businesses on the forecourts, such as tea rooms, that can help enthuse the local communities where the petrol stations are based.

He said: "The three new sites will bring our portfolio to 30 retail outlets and I expect this to grow even further, to 40 sites by the end of 2016.

"We had 20 outlets a year ago and I credit our success to our excellent business model and ambition of our new management team.

"The funding from Santander has been vital to our growth plans, and their knowledge and understanding of the sector has been invaluable."

Since launching the business, Mr Penny said the industry had endured "such carnage" leading to numbers of filling stations sliding from 21,000 in the UK to just 8,000.

Adding in unusual businesses, however, is helping to create a new, more successful brand. He said: "We trade in Scotland, right through Northumberland, Tyneside and County Durham, with a cluster in the North West and sites in North Yorkshire now, and I did say I was going to stop at 20 sites, but we now have 30. …

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