We were excited to visit this 24-hour Esso forecourt, a regional finalist in the 2023 Forecourt Trader Awards

Our mystery motorist visits Esso Rontec Dudley Port 


Time of visit 4.45pm

Kerb appeal: This 24-hour Esso forecourt, a regional finalist in the 2023 Forecourt Trader Awards, enjoys a prominent position on the A461 in Tipton, heading to Dudley town centre. The outlet is a Morrisons Daily with a Greggs food-to-go concession and seating area. It has signage on the forecourt advertising that it offers £3.99 lunchtime meal deals, and that its Greggs is now open.

Pump action: There are four fuel islands each with six pumps. There is a car wash at the rear and DPD and Amazon pick-up-and-drop-off lockers in front of the building, as well as a commission-free ATM.


There are DPD and Amazon pick-up-and-drop-off lockers at the front ot the Morrisons Daily store

There is ample parking both in front of and behind the retail outlet, allowing motorists to fill up and park, or other customers to shop without buying fuel. This is definitely a site where you would not have to queue for a parking spot.

There is Calor Gas for sale and displays of car care items, wood for stoves, and newspapers in front of the outlet.

Store style: The Morrisons outlet is a well-stocked destination convenience store where you could easily buy ingredients for your evening meal and possibly a weekly shop, with whole chickens, breaded chicken and meatballs included in what is a stong fresh meat offering for a forecourt store.

There was an impressive range of fresh produce, both ambient and chilled, as well as a refrigerated deli section, and a bank of doored chillers of wine and beer and soft beverages. There was a three-door frozen food cabinet, although the light was not on. Shelves were well stocked with everything from babycare to car care. And the entrance to the store felt welcoming with a large well-stocked Mother’s Day flower display to the left.


A welcoming array of flowers for Mother’s Day



There was an impressive display of fruit and vegetables both displayed ambiently and chilled


Whole chickens and meatballs were part of a strong fresh meat range for a forecourt store


A nice touch: bottle carriers above the beer and wine chiller

Perhaps it was the timing of our visit, but we marked the store down for its lack of attention to detail, with empty boxes in a cage and a pile on the floor waiting to be put away. The aisles themselves were wide but a stack of beer boxes jutting into the aisle looked messy, as did a trolley of marked-down clearance products.

Some of the placings of products seemed illogical and haphazard – a clipstrip of bagged snacks next to tinned soups, for instance, wine gums next to biscuits, and a Mother’s Day promotion at the back of the store with chocolates and Prosecco spoiled somewhat by the proximity of pork scratchings and Corona beer.


A muddle of a Mother’s Day display tucked away at the back of the store


The clearance rack - a good idea, but it jutted into the aisle

The store was almost a victim of its own generosity of space, with a solitary table and chairs in the middle of an empty space in front of the Greggs counter.


There was a lot of space wasted near to the Greggs concession


The Costa Express machines were well used when we visited

There were two Costa Express machines next to a display of cakes and pastries, and, also on the plus side, there were signs offering Deliveroo service.

On a mission: We wanted to refuel and use the toilets during a journey from the north of England to the south coast.

At your convenience: We really have to call out the state of the single washroom in this outlet, which was shockingly dirty and untended – including the toilet, the wall, the floor and the sink. We hope that this was a one-off but fear that it suggests a lack of attention to detail by management. Maintaining clean lavatories, with a rigorous rota, is never the most glamorous job in forecourt retailing but it is vital to create a good customer impression of the entire business. We did not have to ask for a key, but perhaps a request system might be something worth considering in this instance.


The bathroom was unkempt 

Anything else: Staff were friendly and the manager, when he saw us making notes, shook our hand and offered us a coffee.


Thumbs up for:

- A strong, well-faced up range of convenience items, and particularly impressive alcohol and chilled foods offer

- Plenty of parking

- Strong promotions

- The outside of the shop looked inviting, neat and tidy, despite the general litter around the forecourt


Promotions were clearly labelled


The store had a strong chilled offering


The store had a very neat car care display

Thumbs down for:

General lack of attention to detail. Some sloppy merchandising, untidy aisles, rubbish around the forecourt, a freezer cabinet with no lighting on inside, and an unacceptable lavatory

It was frustrating that a store which put so much effort into having a strong well-stocked range, let itself down on relatively small things which would not take much to improve on.


Sloppy merchandising


Spot the rogue items in what otherwise would have been a well presented display