Ronson – ‘the journey is not over yet’

With a mantra of retail is detail Gerald Ronson launched his first Heron branded petrol station in St Albans on 24th March 1966; last week he held a lunch to celebrate his 50-year milestone in retail.

“What we created in 1966 was revolutionary,” said Gerald who is now in his late seventies has since built over 1,000 service stations.

“Our combination of service, quality and low prices meant that when we opened our first station in St Albans in 1966, we had queues of cars for half a mile waiting to fill up at four shillings and 10 pence (old money) a gallon.”

Rontec, which incorporates Snax24, now operates over 220 sites across England and Wales and has a £1 billion plus turnover.

It was Ronson’s acquisition of Total UK’s retail network of 810 service stations that signalled his return to the sector in scale. Having made the acquisition, Rontec immediately sold non-core elements – DCC took 300 wholesale sites, the railheads went back to Total with UK pipelines sold to Valero. Shell took 254 retail sites leaving Rontec with 250 sites plus cash.

“When I started there were around 38,000 filling stations in the UK; now there are fewer than 9,000, with just four remaining in central London,” said Gerald.

“Petrol retailing is in my DNA, and whilst it is my hobby, it is a business that I am deadly serious about,” said Gerald.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved but watch this space because our journey is not over yet.”