A FORECOURT giant is increasing its presence across the UK after adding 48 Esso sites to its growing empire.

The deal for Euro Garages, based in Blackburn, follows the acquisition of 45 Esso sites in the North and North Wales last January.

The latest sites, in the Midlands and East of England, take its total number to 180 with more than 3,000 staff making it one of the UK’s largest independent forecourt operators.

Esso-branded fuel will continue to be supplied, the company said. Customers will also benefit from brand partnerships with Greggs, Subway, Starbucks and Burger King.

The agreement is part of Esso-owner ExxonMobil’s move to a new approach to the retail market by providing branded fuel to retail fuel specialists like Euro Garages. Over the next few years, many of the UK’s forecourts are expected to change hands as oil producers adapt their approach to fuel retailing.

Euro Garages managing director Mohsin Issa said: “The Esso sites we acquired last year as part of the North of England and North Wales package have performed extremely well.

“With this latest agreement, which strengthens our national presence and extends our consumer offer in the Midlands and East of England, we aim to bring the Euro Garages retail experience to millions of new customers.”

Euro Garages chief executive Zuber Issa added: “We are looking forward to a busy 2014, integrating the new Esso sites alongside acquiring and developing new-to-industry sites.”