Coles Myer, Australia’s largest retailer, continues to negotiate with Shell on the rollout of petrol stations tied to its supermarkets.

Announcing a first half net profit increase of 28% to A$272.4m (US$161.2m), Coles chief executive John Fletcher admitted he was frustrated a deal had not been completed. But he was comforted by the better than expected results, which follow a series of profit downgrades.

Coles is planning to buy a significant number of Shell’s forecourts and tied stores around Australia. Its rival Woolworths has already started a rollout of forecourts at its supermarkets. It so far has 280, and Coles is eager to keep up.

Fletcher described Coles’ petrol move as the most significant for the company in ten years, which was why the company would not be hurried into launching the scheme before it was ready, he said.

Coles’ internal projections show that first half petrol sales could have topped $617m but Woolworths’ boss Roger Corbett recently criticised the plan claiming that Coles would end up with former Shell outlets that were nowhere near its supermarkets.

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