Kenny's Kilrae forecourt (2)

Kenny Bradley’s Kilrea forecourt to be fitted with EV charging points in 2024

Northern Ireland forecourt operator Kenny Bradley is hoping to make his newly-developed Kilrea site a destination for motorists with laundry machines, parcel lockers, his own-brand bean-to-cup coffee, a deli counter and locally-produced food.  

Since completing a £3.5m redevelopment of the Maxol petrol station this November, the site’s turnover has increased by 60%, and is growing. This, says Kenny, is largely down to the store being expanded from 2,000 sq ft to 4,500 sq ft last December, and him moving his seven-store business to Nisa over the past six months.

The jury is still out, he says, on the pulling power of two washing machines and a tumble dryer, and OOHpod parcel lockers for pick-ups and drop-offs. But the timing is perfect for the busy Christmas parcel deliveries period and cold weather deterring outdoor clothes drying. And if the 24-hour self service lockers drive footfall they will be rolled out across all the estate, which ranges from convenience stores in Garvagh and Newtownabbey, to an 11,000 sq ft supermarket at Lisburn.

Other improvements at the Kilrea forecourt - one of four operated by Kenny - include the introduction of six outdoor payment fuel pumps and new jet wash and car care services. There are also plans for two electric vehicle (EV) charging points in 2024 at Kilrea, which if successful will lead to the concept being introduced at his 3,000 sq ft Newtownabbey convenience store, which does not sell fuel but has a large carpark, and Kenny’s other forecourt sites at Coleraine (supplied by Maxol), Magherafelt (BP) and Randalstown (Maxol). Kenny, who has over 30 years’ retail experience, says he is always looking for more forecourts to acquire, as well as having plans to develop his existing portfolio. He has received planning permission to open his fifth forecourt on a greenfield site on Belfast’s ring road. Work on the 4,500 sq ft shop and eight pumps is due to start next year, with doors opening in 2025.

Joining with Nisa has given Kenny’s stores greater freedom to trade with a range of different suppliers, while retaining the benefits of being part of a big buying group. It also allows the business to use Kenny’s Food Fare as the fascia on the forecourt shops, to sell its own brand bean to cup coffee, and to stock to stock a wider range of locally sourced products popular in Northern Ireland, such as potatoes and an artisan bakery range. Other advantages have included access to a bigger product range and the Co-op own-brand line-up, as well as extensive promotions.

Kenny, who began the move to Nisa in July 2023, says: “We are always hungry for growth and for redevelopment, although any investment has to be for the right sites.”