Shop Doctor: In the surgery this month Bellingers Service Station, Grove, Wantage, Oxfordshire

13 August, 2014
Page 13 

LOCATION:

A business with a service station, shop, franchise to sell new and used Vauxhall and Chevrolet cars and a micro-brewery must be worth a visit! Bellingers has two sites one in Abingdon and my target at Grove. It is on the A338 just outside Wantage and is clearly visible the distinctive Jet service station and Vauxhall car display make it hard to miss.

FORECOURT:

The illuminated Jet pole price for unleaded petrol was an unexpected 5ppl more than a Sainsbury filling station just a mile away and the pole showed exactly the same price for diesel.

The Jet corporate yellow has great impact and the large canopy covers four islands of pumps. Access to each was fine, although space is a bit tight in the lane nearest the road due to a line of marked parking spaces some occupied by cars for sale. All the pumps were clean and working and included offer cards inevitably one line on promotion was an e-cig.

There is a car wash to the side of the shop and two jet wash bays to the rear, together with an air line, water and vacuum.

Bags of lumpwood charcoal are available. There is an A-board promoting Wall's ice cream

The roadside edge of this large site is dominated by a significant number of cars for sale and the service station. Air flags and a Vauxhall pole promote the car sales and service activity. On the grass verge is a poster board advertising Bellingers Beers and a smaller sign for the Oxford Coffee Company.

SHOP:

In corporate style and colours, the fascia states Londis and above the door Bellingers. The shop looks recently refurbished and is bright, clean and category sections are well signed.

In front of the till area and projecting into the shop space is a serve-over hot food counter. The food looked appetising and my pasty was very tasty. A selection of sandwiches is made in store and a wide range of food-to-go snacks and drinks are readily available.

Among the selection of grocery products are a number of SuperValu lines. The range of fresh produce is very small and some items looked a little tired.

A number of shelf ends are utilised for the display of 'Wow Deals', some at half price and many at 'round pound' price points.

The hot food and drinks counters extend into the body of the shop and the result produces an interesting layout of shelving. Cool cabinets occupy the length of two of the walls and some product racks are strategically placed. One offering tubs of kids pick and mix for 1 was well shopped.

Adjacent to a good display of wine white and pink in chilled cabinets is a large area of bottled beers. Brewed in their own micro-brewery, there is a gondola end display of Bellingers beer. Some were specially brewed to mark the First World War centenary.

In addition to the local beers, I found some packs of local quail eggs but in my limited stealth check not much else from the area.

It was good to find a well maintained and serviced customer toilet. The member of staff who dealt with my transaction perfectly well did not want to engage about the range of beers.

PROGNOSIS:

Both the Jet forecourt and Londis shop look very smart and may well have been refurbished recently or is it that the company keeps both in very good order?

I am concerned that the 5ppl premium for unleaded petrol in comparison to the local Sainsbury filling station may be an issue and I would be surprised if this is not detrimental to fuel and consequently shop sales.

DIAGNOSIS:

The Bellingers Grove enterprise ticks a lot of boxes but there are a few areas that should be looked at again and that may help to further drive sales revenue

PRESCRIPTION:

At the top of my action list are: a review of the fuel price policy and the installation of a free-to-use ATM. And contrary to my usual emphasis on selling 'local', in the case of coffee I think a brand leader like Costa Express would attract more drinkers.

They also need to extend the range of locally produced foodstuffs. A tremendous platform with all the local beers but there needs to be a wider choice (produce, bread, flowers etc) that could then be promoted. Get the extraordinary range of bottled beers featured on the Londis web page.





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