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Long-established Co Down fuel company Ritchie Fuels in Co Down has been bought over by Topaz

Long-established Co Down fuel company Ritchie Fuels in Co Down has been bought over by Topaz

Long-established Co Down fuel company Ritchie Fuels in Co Down has been bought over by Topaz

Long-established Co Down fuel company Ritchie Fuels in Co Down has been bought over by Topaz.

Family-run Hugh Ritchie and Sons in Newtownards stopped trading in August but was back in business this week following a deal with new supplier Topaz.

The firm was opened in 1954 by Hugh Ritchie and is now run by his son Kevin. Topaz is an Ireland-wide fuel supplier and distributor. Kevin Ritchie said a contract with its former supplier had broken down after 50 years.

Mr Ritchie declined to name the former supplier, saying their long-standing contract was now subject to legal proceedings.

In a statement with Topaz, Mr Ritchie said: “Ritchie Fuels, over the last number of months, had one priority, that was to get back on our feet and serve our customers who have supported us by leaving hundreds of messages and best wishes.

“Thank you for all your support.”

Michael Strain, Topaz Local Fuels general manager, said: “This new venture will see jobs in the area saved and ensure the continuation of a well-liked and respected local business,” he said.

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“Known to everyone, Ritchie Fuels is a family-run business that has been delivering oil in the area for over 60 years.

Topaz Local Fuels said it saw the new deal with Ritchie as a “great opportunity to grow and learn from a hard-working local business” which it recognised was “steeped in the culture and business of the province”.

It pledged to work alongside the staff at Ritchie Fuels, whose experience and their relationships developed with customers was “a key reason for this partnership”.

“Those relationships are extremely important to Topaz and we see them as the foundation to grow the business,” said Mr Strain.

“We are pleased to engage in partnership with Ritchie Fuels, ensuring they continue to operate at the heart of Newtownards and the surrounding area.

“This venture will enable us to deliver services more efficiently, increasing competitiveness and ensuring customer satisfaction,” he added.

Staff had been made redundant in August and while a number sought alternative employment, a number of previous employees have returned.

A small number of drivers may soon be hired, Mr Ritchie said yesterday.

Topaz Local Fuels (previously Shell Direct) has over 300 petrol stations across Ireland and 39 in Northern Ireland.

It also supplies domestic, agricultural and commercial markets from five other depots, including Airport Road, Belfast, Tandragee, Cookstown, Londonderry and Ballymena.

Topaz also bought Hazlett Fuels, Jimmy Stock Fuels, both in Ballymena, and Springhill Fuels in Moneymore.


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