We begin our review of the 2019 Forecourt Trader Award winners: this month we cover the regional victors from Scotland and Northern Ireland, plus three from the 12 specialist categories
Up to 4 MLPA
RaceTrack Autoport Services
If you see a colourful glow in the Paisley Road West area of Glasgow, it will probably be coming from RaceTrack Autoport Services, which must surely house the most amazing LED screen (50 of them) and lighting display ever seen on a UK forecourt particularly now it has extra embellishments for Christmas!
"We’ve created a festive theme (which extends to goodies such as Santa pancakes). We want it to be cheery and welcoming for customers," explains director Shamly Sud. The lighting is the brainchild of her husband Vikas, a builder, who, she says, is ’into’ LEDs. But it’s not just the lighting that gives this forecourt operation (one of six in the company’s portfolio) the ’wow’ factor, but the extent of the innovations that have been worked into the site.
As well as providing customers with a full range of grocery, household items, fuel-related accessories, and comprehensive vape store, there is the stunning Tuffees dessert bar, plus no less than 60 different flavours of slushees great for customers wanting to mix their own concoctions.
"We wanted to do something different, and provide a quality offering with great customer service," says Shamly. "Winning these awards (including Food To Go and Innovation) has been the icing on the cake. It’s great to be recognised for all the effort that has been made by everyone in the team."
4 MLPA plus
Broadford, Isle of Skye
Eddie Jenkinson, national fuels manager at Co-op, says it was an honour that Co-op Broadford, Isle of Skye was recognised as one of the best petrol filling stations in Scotland at this year’s Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards.
After a five-month closure and redevelopment, Broadford re-opened with six pump islands (42 nozzles), which increased the fuel range and helps to serve customers more efficiently.
The forecourt area was completed with a new jet wash, car valeting service and a picnic area for visiting customers.
A new overhead canopy with a covered walkway to the shop provides welcome relief from the extreme weather that this part of Scotland is well known for.
Jenkinson says the addition of a bespoke convenience store on the forecourt has made it easier to pay for fuel as previously payments were made in the main Co-op store on the site.
A full convenience range is on offer in the new shop alongside a food-to-go offer and coffee machines.
Situated on the busy A87, Broadford meets the needs of tourists calling in before they head further into the Isle of Skye as well as motorists and commercial drivers on more regular journeys to and from the mainland.
"With the 2019 tourist season coming to an end, we have served more customers than ever thanks to the new efficient forecourt layout," he says.
Up to 4 MLPA
Carrickfergus, Co Antrim
Spar Fortfield prevailed in a very competitive field. The site scored highly because of the high standard and variety of offer and great customer service. It is a new-concept project by Hendersons which aims to provide everything today’s customer is looking for and more. It starts with the branded Barista Coffee offer, through the dairy department which includes a new-concept local butchery meat deck range with pre-packed meats; then on to meal inspiration solutions for ’tonight’s tea’ through to convenience staples such as milk and everyday fresh items. Then there’s the grocery section; Post Office open from 6am to midnight; occasions gifting range; ’kid zone’ complete with slush machines and ice creams; locally sourced bread and cake; new concept ’Daily Deli’ which covers a wide range of hot breakfast and lunch options, plus salad bar and sandwiches; Chicken Bar for grab-and-go dinner options; Peking Asian food bar; seating area, plus in-store Subway and Burger King complete with drive-thru; plus first-of-its-kind Barista Café.
Adrian Mellon, senior store manager at Spar Fortfield, said: "It was great to be recognised at the prestigious Forecourt Trader awards. Everyone at this Spar site works really hard to deliver the best customer service, a fast and efficient store operation with a high quality food offer."
4 MLPA plus
Eurospar Wallace Village
Given the high standards of forecourts in Northern Ireland, Michael Barr, manager at EuroSpar Wallace Village was just delighted to have been shortlisted for an award. Having won it, he says the staff are ecstatic: "To win an award like this just over a year since opening is a tremendous achievement that has really boosted staff morale."
The new site first opened its doors in July 2018. The impressive in-store offering includes a food-to-go section, a Quails butchers area as well as a large selection of fresh, frozen and ambient products.
"We set out with a vision of building the store up gradually but we smashed our 18-month target within a few months of opening," says Michael. "This was done through the team delivering the highest customer service, as well as a great range and a variety of in-store deals. We have gone from strength to strength and really planted our business in the heart of the community."
Michael says community involvement is key and the store gets involved in monthly community partnership activities to ’give back’. Activities they have been involved in so far include assisting the local food bank, raising awareness and delivering goods to the homeless through the Simon Community charity, painting the Laurel Hill day care centre for the elderly as well as throwing an amazing in- store Christmas party.
Best car care
Syston Service Station
Despite having a car parts and accessories distributor right next door, Syston Service Station still manages to offer an award-winning display of car care items.
The category comprises 2m of car care and 1m of lubes plus there is a bunker housing screenwash and AdBlue outside the shop.
"I think the reason we do well with car care, despite the car parts place next door, is our longer opening hours. We’re open from 6am to 10pm whereas they’re open from 8.30am to 6pm," explains manager Clive Leeson.
"We stock a broad range and we’re comparable on price. Profit margins are good for the business," he adds.
There is a book in which customers can look up what oil they need but Clive says if a customer really has no idea, if they have time they will google their car to find out what they need.
"Our best seller at the moment is, of course, de-icer, but generally year-round it’s 5ltr screenwash and 10ltr AdBlue, which sells to HGV drivers. We’ve tried selling smaller sizes of AdBlue but they didn’t go well."
best coffee & hot beverages
Westmorland Cairn Lodge Services
Having sold nearly three million hot drinks across all its businesses last year, Westmorland takes its coffee very seriously. The company works closely with Lincoln and York to select, source and roast the perfect blend of beans for its coffee, which is a unique blend produced just for them. The specially selected beans come direct from three different farms in Brazil, Guatemala and Peru. Each variety has a distinct flavour profile.
For Westmorland, the perfect hot drink has to be coupled with the perfect service. Its teams therefore take part in up to three stages of Barista training (bronze, silver and gold) to ensure they deliver a great cup every time. Beyond the practicalities of tamping the coffee and steaming the milk to perfection, they learn how to observe the tastes and aromas by ’breaking the crust’ and getting as close to the freshly brewed single blends as possible.
All Cairn Lodge’s hot drinks can be made with decaf beans and served with a choice of semi-skimmed, almond or soya milk.
Isle of Skye
The redevelopment of Co-op Broadford was five months in the making but Co-op project manager, Steve Varty, attended local council meetings to discuss the redevelopment plans, to listen and react to the concerns of the residents and authorities.
Broadford & Strath Community Council and Skye & Lochalsh Access Panel provided valuable input to the plans for the main shop, to ensure that the needs of the local community were fully met.
Co-op’s Local Community Fund provides valuable support too by distributing 1% of the value of Co-op branded goods that members buy along with the 5p carrier bag levy.
Currently the three community groups being supported are Crossroads, Skye along with RagTag Textiles and Broadford Youth Club. Every six months three new community groups are chosen from nominations. Regular bag-packing sessions and raffles take place in the store supporting local groups and raising awareness of the volunteer and charity work that takes place in the area.