This month we focus on the West Country and Wales, London and the South East and three more specialist category winners
west country & wales: up to 4mlpa
GH Lunn & Son has been trading in Weare in Somerset since 1926, but a lot has changed since then. Although in a rural location, it’s on a main link road from the M5 to Bristol and the airport.
In 2013, the shop doubled in size from 500sq ft to 1,000sq ft and adopted the Simply Fresh brand with a stylish design using wood, grass and tailored graphics.
GH Lunn director Simon Lunn says: "The result is a much better shopping experience, which our customers love. We have seen an extra 3,000 to 5,000 customers a month since becoming a Simply Fresh."
He says year-on-year growth is healthy across both the shop where average spend is now £8 and across fuel volumes, which currently stand at 4mlpa.
But the business is not all about the money; charity and community are very important too. So much so that GH Lunn hosts around 15 events, such as Car Wash Days, a year to raise money for local organisations as well as national charities.
west country & wales: 4mlpa plus
Tout’s Budgens of Langford underwent a £1m redevelopment in 2014, which included an extension and refit. The project took 10 weeks to complete and in that time, the shopfloor went from 3,500sq ft to 5,500sq ft.
"We had a clear vision to create the best forecourt in the UK from the offset," says Jonathan Tout. "Having completed a market plan which investigated the local demography, we were able to create a site which has everything a customer wants."
Changes included: an extra 21 car parking spaces; increasing the number of till points to six; adding a Subway; putting in two Costa Express machines; transforming the on-site hair salon; upgrading and increasing the refrigeration; switching the lighting to LED; and adding an extra 30 staff.
On the product side, the fresh, chilled, grocery, frozen and beers, wines and spirits categories were also developed. In addition, five Cook freezers were added.
The result is an increase in customer numbers by around 4,500 a week and a 15% increase in shop sales.
london & south east: up to 4mlpa
A winner many times before, Canvey Island Service Station’s success can be put down to its all-round excellent service and its great choice of products.
Situated on the town’s outskirts, the site combines four Jet-branded pumps and a Costcutter convenience store.
Local residents account for the majority of trade but it also caters for the many holidaymakers and day-trippers. Appeal is far reaching as the shop is particularly popular with elderly locals doing their grocery shopping as well as local schoolchildren who love the hot dogs that are on offer.
The addition of a Costa coffee machine and Country Choice food-to-go have both been very well received.
There are always two members of staff on the shopfloor available to help customers with their shopping and even carry it to their cars for them.
The trading ethos is a sound one the fact that they can’t afford to lose one single customer, both financially and in terms of reputation, so all the team at Canvey Island work extra hard to keep their solid customer base.
london & south east: 4mlpa plus
Long-established family firm Parkfoot Garage continues to go from strength to strength. The modern, bright 280sq m store, which trades 24 hours a day, includes an in-store butchery with three full-time butchers to staff it, a new fresh fish counter, large chilled section, impressive off licence, as well as an extensive local and speciality range.
All of this obviously goes down well with the customers as Parkfoot Garage boss David Charman says shop turnover is up by 30% year-on-year, customer count is up by over 1,000 transactions a month and average basket spend stands way above the sector average of £6.14, at £7.89.
David says: "Our aim is always to make Parkfoot the destination local food store, effectively meeting the customers’ local shopping needs."
He is keen to further strengthen customer loyalty from an already good base and build on his ’owning the community’ strategy.
The site is also well known for its state-of-the-art car wash centre.
best hot beverages outlet - sponsored by costa express
When developing the new-build Exelby Services Coneygarth in North Allerton, north Yorkshire, the lack of facilities locally for HGV drivers in particular was a key factor. Exelby’s answer was a site that included a Subway and Costa Express.
The Costa Express station sits in the centre of the store for maximum visibility. A bespoke fascia surround with inbuilt LED down-lighting helps highlight it even more.
But Exelby has teamed up with both Costa Express and Yorkshire Tea to offer hot drinks to suit all tastes. So the drinks range covers everything from Americanos and Vanilla Lattes to Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea and Cupa Soup.
Customers locals and those passing through have responded well to the offer. Exelby reports that sales are phenomenal. In the first six months of operation the site was already selling more than 250 cups a day, contributing around 15% of overall shop turnover.
best site manager - sponsored by jet
When you read what Jan Hawthorne has achieved as a manager for HKS, you can’t helping thinking that she must be some sort of ’superwoman’. She was managing a store in a high crime area so she liaised with local police, joined the Northampton Retail Crime Initiative and trained staff on how to spot and deal with in-store theft. This improved staff confidence but Jan’s work with staff did not end there.
She has invested a lot of time in her staff, ensuring they are up to date with their training and involving them in weekly meetings where they are encouraged to share new ideas.
Jan was also very much involved in the launch of the HKS Sandringham flagship site, where she had to assist her area manager in recruiting a large new team. There was also the small matter of learning all about Subway so she could ensure a first-class food-to-go offer for customers.
best soft drinks outlet - sponsored by coca-cola enterprises
You’d be hard pushed not to find a soft drink you’d like at Spar Battlefield in Shrewsbury, and that’s because of all the space that’s dedicated to the category. Manager Marcus Burnley-Lowe says there’s a 5m chiller with five shelves of drinks, as well as one 3m shelf above the meal deal lines, an aisle of ambient packs (typically bigger bottles of pop and squashes) plus various promotional ends.
Standards are high in the store: "Soft drinks is one of the first categories shoppers see when they enter the store so we always make sure shelves are full and faced up properly," says Marcus. Best seller is red Coke followed by Diet Coke. Other popular lines include Lucozade Energy and Red Bull.
Pricing is currently £1.49 for a 500ml bottle of Coke but there is a ’2 for £2’ offer which is very popular, as is the meal deal where you get a sandwich, crisps or chocolate plus a 500ml bottle of pop for £3.25.