Park Thieves car care

A focus on car care has paid off handsomely for Top 50 Indie Park Garage Group (PGG).

Sales in the category are up, plus the company’s Park Thieves Lane site in Shrewsbury won the Best Car Care category at last year’s Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards.

The story began when a look at sales category performances across Park Thieves Lane revealed that the car care section had been underperforming. PGG got together with its suppliers – Convenience Distribution Group (CDG) and Newco for HGV items – to see what could be done to increase sales.

Ian Cawley, head of operations, explains: “We identified that a large number of our products were for car users only and we believed, due to the high volume of fuel we served to HGVs, that HGV items could be something we could add.”



The Kay Group benefits from lubricants sales up 17% in 2023



The lubricants sector is complex with many brands, grades, and formulations which can be overwhelming for customers. Without a clear store layout, customers may opt for cheaper or suboptimal products, sacrificing quality for cost-effectiveness, says supplier Hyrdo Carbon Services (HCS).

It has been working with The Kay Group providing the forecourt operator’s 15 Texaco branded sites with bespoke planograms based on their local vehicle parc. QR codes and shelf strips have been strategically placed to help customers and staff select the correct lubricant for each vehicle, and as a result of all of these moves lubricants sales have increased by 17%.

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Today car care covers 3m of space divided into roughly 2m for cars and 1m for HGVs.

“We are lucky in that we have a large footprint store on this site. We reduced space given to non-food as this is a transient site where a large range wasn’t needed and made space for HGV items which has increased the sales across the category.”

He continues: “It’s important for us as a business to recognise who our customers are and what their needsare. And, in this instance, we believe by engaging with our suppliers we have been able to offer a better range with great availability for our customers.

“Our staff have massively bought into this project and are constantly ensuring we are offering full availability at all times.”

Ian says staff are trained so they are familiar with the range but the site also uses the new Shell platform where customers can scan the QR code, put in their reg and it tells them the oil they need for their car.

He adds that they are always keen to ensure that their HGV customers’ needs are met so the HGV range has now been added to a few more sites.

Commenting on the work with PGG, Chris Nuttall, head of forecourts at Newco, says: “After investigating the options we were able to develop and install bespoke Trucker solutions to Thieves Lane. Together with our fully engaged store team we have been able to track the success of this often overlooked category and it is clear to see that this new initiative has provided significant incremental growth. We are delighted to say that this is just one of many similar success stories at other PGG locations.”

Trucklife Moto

Keep on trucking

A company that specialises in products for HGVs is aptly named Trucklife. It’s been trading for more than 20 years and supplies over 300 sites directly with another 100 or so supplied via a third party. This means drivers will see the Trucklife range in the likes of Moto, Roadchef, MFG, Westmorland and Shell as well as at independent truckstops that has a retail shop.

Trucklife director Nick Dooley says: “Our merchandisers set up all new sites. Stock is sent the day before then our team sets everything up, leaving the fixture looking great and ready for sales.

“We choose the right product for the location, based on the footfall and space. All sites are visited regularly and supported. Our merchandisers will see how things are going then swap, add or take product away to maximise the space allocated.

“Our products tend to be placed next to car care in smaller sites but most larger sites have dedicated gondolas just for us. The average motorway service area retail shop has 3-4 metres of Trucklife while the forecourts usually having more.

“Our products are sold on a firm sale basis but if we are dealing with someone who is new to our range of products and we think it’s the right place for us, we’ll give them three months and if either of us are unhappy we’ll take everything back. But this has never happened as we won’t supply sites if we think they’re not rightfor our range.”

Nick says best sellers are typically gloves, gas, plugs and adaptors, chargers and holders, high-vis clothing and chrome cleaning products.

Most margins are between 30-40%. Some higher priced items like TVs and sat navs have a lower margin but lower priced items carry 50% margins.

If orders are placed by midday, next day delivery is usually guaranteed though Nick says the company is still small enough to take a call from a customer who is desperate and ‘put them to the top of the pile’.

Newco car care

Profitable products

While some forecourts have reduced space for car care products, Chris Nuttall, says the category is consistently identified as one of the most profitable categories within forecourts.

“Consider this: every customer who stops at your forecourt likely owns a vehicle and maintaining that vehicle is a necessity. By stocking a comprehensive range of car care products, you’re not only catering to a fundamental need but also tapping into a market that can drive substantial revenue. By integrating car care products into your inventory mix, you’re not just diversifying your offerings but also maximising your profitability potential.

“Car care items can provide a consistent revenue stream; it’s one of the most lucrative opportunities within forecourt retailing. And Newco has shown that having the right range available all the time, makes a significant impact on both sales and margin.”

He says Newco’s recommended range is tailored to individual stores and a comprehensive store survey is undertaken to ensure that the suggested planogram fits the store profile.

“Seasonal variations are taken into account and our sales team works closely with our customers to ensure they take full advantage of peaks. We also focus on visual appeal and ensure that the display looks fantastic as that will draw shoppers in, even those who hadn’t planned on purchasing anything.”

He says the Newco sales team makes it a point to visit a site at least once every four-to-six weeks, ensuring consistent support and guidance.

“They assist the stores by ensuring the availability of a core range of KVIs and key SKUs. They review and bring the display back to plan if necessary.”

He recommends a 2m gondola or wall unit for car care but says due to the high-value of some of the items in the range, the display should be as close to the till point as possible or the cashier should at least have a clear line of sight of the fixtures. “Additionally, consider placing car care products in proximity to related items, such as automotive accessories or convenience goods, to encourage cross-selling opportunities.”

Paul Stoddart, retail trading director at Top 50 Indie Ascona Retail, says the company’s partnership with Newco began in 2020 and since then, it has seen sales and margin returns increase significantly.

“The Newco team has always shown professionalism and great knowledge of the car care and non-food categories.

“The introduction of ‘Roamler’ reporting software, enables us to see any issues and opportunities across the estate all in one place online. Core range is monitored to ensure we have the availability of key lines at all times and will prove invaluable as we continue to drive sales.”


Warning lights

With Amazon often able to deliver items extremely quickly and many towns having their own Halfords, there can be tough competition in the car care category. But Graham Tissiman, sales and marketing manager at CDG says that the key advantage that a forecourt retailer has over Amazon is that very often the motorist needs the product right away. “They may have broken down and need booster cables or have a flat tyre and need Tyreweld. If their screenwash or AdBlue is low and shows a warning on their dashboard the consumer may not be willing to wait several days for a delivery.

“The advantage the forecourt has over Halfords is one of location. Very often the motorist may have to pass several forecourts en route to a Halfords, and availability and convenience is very important.”

Tissiman says consumers will expect to find products that are needed to overcome problems such as light bulbs or fuses if the lights are not working, tow ropes and booster cables if the car has broken down. “Very often it is the warning light that indicates there is a problem in the car such as low screen wash or when they have a puncture which is when a product such as Tyreweld is a ‘must stock’ especially when many cars do not carry spare wheels.”

He says a good car care bay must include strong brands which the consumer recognises and trusts. “Trust gives confidence in any purchase decision and it is for this reason that we at CDG have strong brands on our planogram such as Armorall, STP, Redex, Simoniz, Turtle Wax, Holts, Little Tree and WD40.

“There must also be the balance between impulse purchases, such as valeting products and air fresheners, and distress purchases such as bulbs, fuses, fuel cans and booster cables, as examples. The former will deliver the retailer incremental sales and the latter are certain purchases but will create a disgruntled customer if they are not available.”

Yankee candle

Money spinners

Air fresheners remain great impulse purchases in forecourt stores.

“Consumers will always want their vehicle smelling clean and fresh but this can be challenged by people eating in their cars or by transporting pets so products like Little Tree and Yankee Candle Air Freshener can be a breath of fresh air for the consumer and offer retailers additional income,” says Tissiman. “We have introduced the Yankee Candle Air Freshener which is an excellent product and has a really strong brand name. For impulse products, the strong brand name is important.”

Meanwhile, Newco has an exclusive deal with The Scentz Company to distribute its new Scentz Car Perfume to forecourt traders.

Set to hit the market in April, Scentz Car Perfume is described as “a captivating collection of car fragrances that promises to transform every drive into an unforgettable sensory journey”.

There are five distinct scents, each inspired by destinations around the world. Cards, diffusers, spray bottles and beanbags are all available with scents that last for 60 days, in the following varieties: Tokyo Dreams, London Flair, Rio Carnival, Dubai Nights and Milan Spirit.