As an area manager for Conaco, helping franchisees improve sales, it seemed a no-brainer for Nicholas Baker to run his own filling station. Apart from the near £1m he’d need from the bank to buy it. “With my background, I was very confident that I could make good. But it was difficult and I am certain in today’s environment I wouldn’t be able to do it.” That was five years ago, and Baker has now added another two petrol stations to his company, NJB Services. Turning each into profitable enterprises was not tricky, Baker claims. The first station was in a fairly rundown state in a great location, and beyond that, it has simply been a question of, “making sure everything is full, clean, priced appropriately, and the right product for that area.” Baker has a manager on each of the sites based in Durham, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and he hovers between the three – when his rigorous triathlon schedule permits. Sales have grown from £5m to £15m over the past four years. Baker always has an eye out for further sites, but is considering his future options.

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