Filling station owner unveils ambitious plans
The owner of London Road petrol station Bridge Fuels has outlined ambitious plans for the site, which include restoring an historic but dilapidated building.
Alex Dean took over the ownership of the filling station from his father, Zubair, in November last year, and this summer erected Under New Management signs to tell motorists about the takeover.
This week the architecture graduate told Marlborough News Online how he has been working on a plan that will see two 18th century buildings – which served as a Porsche showroom for motor company Dick Lovett in the 1980s, before being converted into a filling station, and have listed features inside and out – restored and converted into two family homes.
The adjoining Antiques Emporium, which is not listed, could either be converted or demolished, and a new house built on its footprint, said Alex.
And he denied rumours that that the whole site would be levelled to make room for a riverside housing development.
“I've had regular approaches from developers,” he admitted, “but it's not something I'm interested in. I've got a viable business here, and I want to make a go of it.
Alex said he had bought his father's assets – which include the Golden Arrow services on the A4 between Marlborough and Hungerford – in November last year.
“I set up a new business, called Bridge Fuels,” he said. “I own it, and my father isn't an investor in it. He's retired now. I looked at the figures and reckoned there was a viable business opportunity here.”
With his brother Daniel, Josh and Oliver – all of whom grew up in the town, attending Kingsbury Hill House School – Alex said he had spent a year building his customer base.
“Every day we get busier,” he said. “Even the opening of the Fraser's Budgens site has failed to dent that.”
Part of the attraction of the new Bridge Fuels, he said, is competitive petrol prices. Logging on to the website PetrolPrice.com he said: “I'm selling unleaded at 132.9p per litre. At Chiseldon it's 136.9p per litre.”
“I chose to be an independent fuel retailer, rather than sign up with a big brand, because it gives me greater flexibility.
“At the moment, the prices for unleaded are coming down. If the wholesale price is low today, I can order it today at that price, get a delivery tomorrow, and sell it at that low price, passing the savings on to my customers.”
He admitted that pump prices would rise again if the wholesale cost went back up, but said that all retailers were in the same situation.
“There's a very small margin for manoeuvrability,” he said. “For every £30 spent at the pump, sixty percent – £18 – goes to the government in fuel duty and VAT, and 40 percent – or £12 – covers the cost of the fuel. Of that, the retailer takes about a pound.”
Other plans for the site include the reopening of the workshops behind the filling station. Alex said he was fielding approaches from mechanics eager to make use of the three-bay workshop.
But, having spent thousands of pounds tidying up and rebranding the forecourt and convenience store, it is the listed buildings that are Alex's next priority.
“I've been working with the conservation and planning officers at Wiltshire Council,” he said. “I grew up in the town, so I appreciate the need to sensitively restore these buildings at one of the main gateways to the town.”