Rontec magor coffee

Many forecourt stores have one or two Costa Express machines but the winner of Forecourt Trader of the Year’s Best Hot Beverages Outlet – Rontec Magor Services at junction 23 of the M4 – has four. And what is more the team at the store ensures the machines are always clean and working well which has been reflected in a 98.5% audit score from Costa itself for the care and maintenance of the units.

Manager Ragu Shan says: “We keep an eye on the four machines all day long. We have a rota and it takes a bit of effort to keep on top of it but it’s worth it.”

Most forecourt operators start off with one or two machines and then add more as demand requires but because of the Rontec site’s location at a busy, 24-hour motorway services, there was the need for four units from the get-go. The machines typically serve 3-400 customers a day.

“Despite having four machines, we still get queues,” says Ragu adding that people are prepared to wait a bit for decent coffee.

He says the machines are very reliable and if there is a problem, Costa is quick to sort it out. “Having three other machines certainly takes the pressure off if one is not working,” he says.

The best-selling coffee is the regular latte which costs £3.29. The site has a special morning deal where you can get coffee and a bacon bap for just £5.29; needless to say it is very popular.

Ragu says most people buying coffee also buy food such as a pasty from the West Cornwall Pasty Co unit.

The Spar branded shop also offers Dunkin Doughnuts and Chicago Town Pizza.

For people who don’t want coffee, tea is available – including the Tea Pigs brand but Ragu says PG Tips is still the most popular.


Starring role

When Top 50 Indie Park Garage Group (PGG) purchased 27 Euro Garages sites back in 2021, the company inherited Starbucks coffee machines too.

Ian Cawley, PGG’s head of operations, says: “We saw very early on how powerful the Starbucks brand was so we decided to switch the rest of the estate over.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. Starbucks was very reluctant to have any more machines in the UK and so only gives out a few licences per year. But this year we managed to switch over another 30-plus sites to Starbucks from Seattle’s Best. We did this over the summer months to try and reduce the loss in sales during a period of lower coffee sales. Today we have around 65 sites with Starbucks machines.

“With Costa it’s a revenue share agreement and with Starbucks we can do a wholesale agreement which, as a business, is preferable. I think having Starbucks is a great point of difference as everybody else seems to go with Costa.”

Costa xmas 2023

Sweet treats

Sticky Toffee Pudding is now available in hot beverage form thanks to Costa and the launch of the Sticky Toffee Latte and Sticky Toffee Iced Latte. The Sticky Toffee Latte is available from Costa Express machines while the Sticky Toffee Iced Latte is available from Costa Express’s Hot and Iced self-serve machines.

Exclusively available from Shell forecourts is the new Roasted Hazel Latte, Roasted Hazel Iced Latte (only at Costa Express’s Hot and Iced self-serve machines) and Roasted Hazel Hot Chocolate.

At the same time, Costa has unveiled new festive cups depicting Christmas scenes such as decorating the Christmas tree and exchanging presents.

Starbucks promo

Chilling out

Starbucks is launching a new campaign for this festive period in a bid to extend usage occasions within the chilled coffee sub-category. The campaign aims to drive trial beyond the key summer sales season and provide seasonal serving twists for the products.

A giant interactive gift tree, inspired by the Starbucks Red Cup which, for Starbucks consumers, has become synonymous with the start of the festive period, will pop up on South Bank in London on Saturday December 2. Consumers will be able to get their hands on ready-to-drink (RTD) chilled coffee samples and will be invited to open a numbered door on the tree to reveal a free merchandise gift. Consumers will also have the chance to involve friends and family, wherever they are in the world, by sending them festive wishes and a product coupon via a microsite.

Laura Scott, senior commercial brand manager, comments: “As well as putting Starbucks chilled coffee into the hands of shoppers, our festive sampling campaign is about connecting with consumers and tapping into the excitement of the season to showcase the versatility of chilled coffee throughout the year.”

She says the RTD chilled coffee sub-category is worth £280m but sales are currently predominantly concentrated over the summer months.

“The activation will inspire new usage occasions to further grow the market and will create a grand crescendo to what has been our biggest year yet for marketing. It is guaranteed to delight shoppers and spread festive joy – not just to those visiting us at South Bank but to friends and families through the ‘Pay It Forward’ element.”