It was a very sweet moment for the team at Townstal Road Garage and especially for properietor Julian Holliss of Holliss Filling Stations to achieve such success at the awards, following a gruelling few years fighting off supermarket competition. In recent years, the site has upgraded its offer with a Subway, two Costa Express machines, Post Office, new tills, back and head office systems enabling payback loyalty, social media and coupon promotions and better control of margin. "We are community-orientated retailers who prioritise and consistently deliver standards, recognise evolving trends and methods of communicating with our customer base," says Julian. "Over the past decade, challenges at the site through competition have seemed relentless. We have adapted, re-shaped and re-invested in our offer to meet the changing landscape and customers’ expectations.
"Many of the team have been on board throughout this journey, so it is particularly pleasing for everyone involved to receive this recognition."
london & south east: up to 4mlpa
Hemsby Service Station had been closed for a year when the new owners took over in November 2015. A large-scale transformation including significant investment means the site now meets the needs of a number of villages on the east Norfolk coast. Standards are high. Outside the pumps, forecourt, grass and flower beds are immaculately maintained. Inside, the staff have a daily rota for cleaning and restocking, waste management and site checks.
Manager Subu Nanthakumar says locals have been won over by the transformation coupled with the great service on offer. Friendly staff help customers put air in their tyres, help out at the pumps and carry shopping out to their cars. Nothing, it seems, is too much trouble. When one customer’s car (with kids inside) broke down on the forecourt, staff rang the AA and also the local school where the customer concerned was meant to be picking up another child. They gave the lady a drink and kept the children entertained.
The site also supports local charities including Hemsby Lifeboat.
west country & wales: 4mlpa plus
Since becoming Forecourt Trader of the Year in 2008 with its Nailsea site, the Tout family have not stood still constantly evolving their multi-site business with the changing market trends. Last year the Nailsea site underwent an internal refit, under the direction of managing director Jonathan Tout, creating a store where "everyone can get everything they need to have a happy and healthy lifestyle". The refurbishments including new ceiling and flooring, LED lighting, and upgraded refrigeration gave the store a fresh new ambience. The fresh, frozen and alcohol departments were extended, adding a fine wine range, and extensive ’free from’ range. A dedicated food-to-go aisle was created, plus five Cook frozen-range freezers added. In combination with the ’Tout’s Signature’ loyalty scheme; ’Love Local’ brand which encompasses community projects; and Local Treasures celebrating delicious local products the effect on business has been a significant uplift in sales across forecourt and store and of course, another award!
london & south east: 4mlpa plus
Spar BP Parkfoot in West Malling, Kent is so much more than a forecourt shop that it’s now known as a Spar that happens to sell fuel. Owner David Charman takes pride in listening to what his customers want and has no doubt that doing so keeps sales going in the right direction. Most recent changes include moving the coffee unit from the bakery area to the front of the store and launching a meal deal offer that includes the coffee. TV screens are used to promote the deals David says they look really professional. But it’s not just all about sales, the store is good at supporting the local community. Examples include running a Coconut Shy at the May Bank Holiday celebrations and supporting local schools with things such as Easter Egg hunts. In addition money from the carrier bag levy has been donated to the NSPCC. "We are really proud of our store and the important role it plays in the community," says David. "Time and again customers come back because of our great service and friendly staff, quality food and drink, and smart and tidy site."
best forecourt INNOVATION
The team at Tout’s decided they wanted to bring their Nailsea store up to the standard of their flagship at Langford and they did, and in doing so picked up the Best Forecourt Innovation award. The changes last year involved a full refit and re-merchandising, costing £300,000.
This saw the traditional forecourt store transformed into a more convenient mini supermarket. The idea was to increase sales and attract new customers as well as to get existing customers to use the store more. New local suppliers were recruited including Jon Thorner’s chilled products and artisan breads from Pullin’s Bakery.
Other changes were made including new Country Choice hot and cold counters while seating for the Subway area was improved. The Tout’s Signature loyalty scheme has been incredibly successful at Nailsea, especially the fuel and car wash promotions.
best hot beverages outlet
The owner David Heenan has put a great deal of thought into how Barbican Supervalu Newcastle, Co Down works for the customer in layout, look and feel. Hence a recent £300,000 refit has focused attention on coffee as well as fresh foods and food-to-go, with the result that coffee sales have grown by 54%. Outside the pole sign communicates that the site has tea and coffee. The store prides itself on its standards of hygiene, and this is reflected in the really impressive, fresh and clean drinks counter. There are two hot drinks’ machines with cups housed below along with lids, stirrers, sugar and trays. The coffee is described across the under-counter doors as: "100% Fairtrade. Premium Arabica. Full Roast." Syrups are available to add to drinks. There are hot water dispensers and stands offering Thompson’s Family teas. Baskets beside the drinks offer ’treats’ including gluten-free options.
best site manager
HKS Mill Lane is situated in a high-crime area and manager Jan Hawthorne’s answer was to liaise with the local police and join the Northampton Retail Crime Initiative. That was some time ago but now, on an ongoing basis, she trains the staff in handling crime in-store and how to spot and deal with theft. This has improved staff confidence, enabled them to be more proactive in dealing with crime and resulted in staff and police working together to identify local villains and greatly reducing the number of incidents.
Jan invests time in her staff ensuring they receive the full HKS training in legislation and compliance, best merchandising practice and customer service. Jan is described as a "bright and bubbly" person who leads by example, such as by spending time on the till talking to customers, with staff then picking up on her enthusiasm. She motivates her team through praise and support, and by identifying their training needs.