west country & wales: up to 4mlpa

Gulf crossways service station: Owner Darren Briggs let his daughter Jessica King take all the glory at last September’s ceremony, leaving her alone to be presented with the prestigious award, "as she works hard and she’s earned it". Darren became the proprietor of Crossways Service Station in May 2012 and immediately undertook a major store refit and rebrand of the forecourt to Gulf.

Another refit followed four years later along with a shop rebrand to Bestway. Darren says the extensive investment into the refurbishment of the forecourt and shop had seen the store’s weekly turnover almost double from £8,000 to £16,000. Fuel sales had also increased 10% to nearly 2mlpa. Car washing is also an important part of the business, with sales of £800-£900 a week. "We have introduced a number of exciting initiatives that have proven extremely popular and profitable," says Darren. To promote the site locally and attract both new and repeat business, Crossways mails out 9,500 leaflets to local residents every three weeks. It also displays deals on customer-facing screens on the till area to promote customer savings and initiatives. While the site attracts a significant local customer base, its location on a main road feeder route, used by commuter and commercial traffic, ensures strong passing trade. The well-stocked convenience shop includes a welcoming food-to-go offering including Bake & Bite, freshly made baguettes and Tchibo coffee. Above all, staff ensure a warm and friendly welcome to each customer.

west country & wales: 4mlpa plus

winning post services: Clive Sheppard, director of Chartman Retail, was delighted to win such a prestigious award in recognition of the hard work done on a daily basis by the team at Winning Post Services. The award ceremony coincided with news that the company was being sold to another Top 50 Indie, MRH. "After 30 years working to establish Chartman Retail within the South West, we are delighted to hand over to MRH, who we know will continue to support our customers," he said at the time.

"We cater for our customer requirements and more," he stressed. "We have our own Customer Service Charter. We have a committed staff ready to serve, and we value our staff by providing continual training and support so as to give the customer the best possible experience."

The Winning Post site features a wide range of products including a very appealing food-to-go and bakery offer which has seen impressive growth. The site was also the first independent forecourt to feature three Costa Coffee machines. It offers local ales, wines and ciders alongside the national brands. Vaping products have also been a focus, generating sales in excess of £2,000 a week. The store is bright, innovative and incorporates the best aspects of modern, contemporary design, evolving with new Spar concepts and generally moving with the times, embracing eco elements such as LED lighting. The team also supports local and national charities on a regular basis. The goal is that the customers leave contented and with a smile.

london & south east: up to 4mlpa

hopcroft holt, bicester: The site is located in an affluent and rural area near Bicester Oxfordshire.

The filling station was originally 500sq ft and had a weekly turnover of £6,000, fuel volumes were averaging 20,000 litres per week.

In 2014, Petrocell (Dermot Dowling and Alan Spackman) purchased the site and didn’t take long to knock down the building and rebuild the forecourt. In October 2015, the forecourt and PTA Garage Services (which is part of Petrocell) opened. The shop is now four times bigger at 2,000sq ft, fitted out to the highest specification and supplied and branded by Londis. Fuel is supplied by Jet.

Alan and Dermot decided to go with a black ceiling, wood-effect ceramic floor tiles and the latest LED lighting to create a real ’wow’ factor. The result is spacious and modern with all the departments you’d expect to see. Those include a wide range of groceries, Love frozen foods, off licence, free-to-use ATM and the lottery.

There’s also a ’Good to Go’ area with a Costa Express machine, Bake & Bite hot pastry display unit supplied by Country Choice and Rollover hot dogs.

Alan says that what makes the site stand out are the staff, who he describes as a dedicated, successful team who know their customers well.

The redevelopment has certainly paid off with the store now having a turnover of £30,000 per week, with fuel sales averaging 36,000 litres per week.

london & south east: 4mlpa plus

budgens three mile cross, berkshire: Fraser’s Retail bought this site in February 2015 and ran it for 12 months as just a 30sq m shop with four fuel pumps.

In June 2016, it re-opened with a 3000sq ft shop, eight fuel pumps and 19 parking bays.

The company’s firm belief is that to succeed in today’s age you have to be a shop that sells fuel rather than a fuel station that has a shop. Its shop-only customers account for 70% of trade. The site averages over 11,000 customers a week and they are split as follows: shop-only 70%; fuel and shop 15%; fuel-only 15%.

Nick Fraser says: "Fresh food is vital if you wish to be seen as a top-up grocery store over a general convenience store. We feel that you can only sell a loyal customer so many Mars bars and cans of Coke in a week.

"On the flip side, if your customers are using you for their top-up grocery shopping it opens up the entire product range. From there you can increase the store’s sales through average basket spend as well as increased weekly customer footfall."

Jonathan Fraser adds: "In today’s market we have to accept that we’ll never be the only store that sells Pizza Express pizzas or Tyrells crisps on promotion. What stands us apart is our staff. Being a small family business, we know our staff by name rather than a number and that gives us an advantage in communicating and sharing our passion in this industry."

best forecourt loo: sponsored by fasttrak

jet penny sadberge: Penny Petroleum’s ’ultimate convenience’ concept was first launched at Sadberge with the ’Spend a Penny’ theme. The company wanted the toilet to be a real talking point and so commissioned local artist, Terry Kneeshaw, to paint and print an image for the facility.

The design idea is based around the company name and features the saying ’Penny for your thoughts.’

The bathroom area is disability compliant and has all the amenities that you would expect. Baby changing facilities have been included and free nappies and wipes are available if needed. The hand dryer has been custom made so that it ties in with the décor.

As the store is situated on a busy A-road, there is clear signage outside and also in the main body of the shop, telling customers that the facility is there.

best forecourt team: sponsored by Hi! street

bodmin moor services: The team prides itself on giving the best level of customer service going, with involvement in the local community a big part of this.

The team are renowned for bringing a smile to customers’ faces, with their singing, dancing, smiles and banter.

They are also involved with fundraising and each year choose a charity, alongside raising money for Comic Relief and Children in Need. Last year, £581 was raised for Comic Relief via five themed days in just one week, including a ’Keep Alison Quiet’ day, a huge Coffee and Cake day and a Cornish Pixie day, with customers getting involved.

A good example of team work was when two members of staff witnessed a car overturning on the dual carriageway outside. They ran out, helped the couple out of the car, then stood on the road directing the traffic around the accident.

best hot beverages outlet: sponsored by costa express

MFG Glasgow airport: As part of an extensive refit project, MFG really embraced the store-within-a-store concept and now the two Costa machines at the Glasgow Airport site are highlighted with a striking canopy designed to ’create theatre and engagement’. Concentrating on this key area has really paid off, with the Costa units alone achieving £1,500 sales per week.

Keen to attract the attention of passing trade, a giant Costa cup has a prominent position on the forecourt entrance, supported by several shrouds and poster boards.

Being such a busy Costa site means staff need to be on the ball so their training is kept up to date and there’s a cleaning, maintaining and checking rota in place. As a customer destination for Costa, MFG says it’s important people get what they want, with no delays and no issues.