With about 1,000 filling stations closing each year in Britain, it was not easy for Visvanathan Ramakrishnan and Colin Fullerton to get funding to start a petrol station business in 1995. But the pair persisted, eventually receiving backing from NatWest to build five petrol stations operating under the BP and Total brands. The Roadside Group, based in Aston Clinton, Bucks, has expanded its sales 115% a year from £904,000 in 1997 to £9m in 2000, when it had 24 staff. ‘Location is all-important. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your station is; if it’s down the end of a cul-de-sac, you’ve had it,’ says Fullerton. The company makes money on services apart from petrol. It has car washes that can take three cars at once, cutting queues. Its forecourt shops are mini-supermarkets, offering fruit, vegetables and even alcohol.
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