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Barclays Fueling Ascona Group Expansion Plans

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Ascona Group, the West Wales based petrol station and convenience store operator, has invested over £860,000 supported by Barclays to acquire the freehold site at Crossways Service Station, Neyland, as part of ambitious expansion plans to operate 30 sites over the next 5 years with sales revenues of over £100m.

Darren Briggs, Company Director at Ascona Group said

“We now have 3 sites delivering over 10 million litres of fuel every year. We currently employ 25 staff with a turnover of in excess of £10 million. By March next year we will have over 10 sites and employ 90 staff as we follow our acquisition strategy supported by Barclays. We look for underperforming sites, which with a little investment and the right staff we are able to transform into successful thriving outlets with a strong focus on the convenience store offering.”

Jason Llewellyn, Barclays Relationship Director, said,

Barclays research identifies the significant role entrepreneurs play in the local economy and is committed to supporting such propositions. By using our knowledge and experience within the sector, Barclays has been able to provide a funding package to accommodate the ambitious growth strategy. Darren left school with few qualifications and joined a YTS scheme with Dyfed County Council on £28.50 a week. He now runs a multimillion pound business with 90 staff, demonstrating that entrepreneurs are not always created in the classroom.”

Darren Briggs continues

“After my YTS entry into the world of employment and various jobs, I settled in the oil industry where I obtained vast experience over a 15-year period with two major oil companies, holding senior management positions. In 2004 I created “bigoil.net”, a fuel pricing platform which won “Best Bus start-up in Wales” which I eventually sold to the “Petrol Retailer Association” in 2008.  I acquired my first site in 2011. While some of our competitors are nervous over the future of the industry and the impact of new technologies such as electric or driverless cars we are confident our retail model will remain sustainable.

The government target to make every car electric by 2040 would require an additional 9 power stations across the UK which is not going to happen, especially when demand is not there. More likely is the rise of hydrogen powered cars so rather than selling petrol or diesel we will be selling hydrogen instead. However, the industry changes, our focus needs to remain or creating a forecourt destination, with the right retail environment, staffed by the right people which is where our success has grown from.”

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