Wivelsfield Service Station

Pricewatch Group’s latest forecourt in Sussex “delivering way beyond expectations”

Family-owned forecourt business Pricewatch Group has unveiled its tenth petrol retail site in Sussex.

The former car dealership with fuel pumps near Haywards Heath is already “delivering way beyond expectations” in its new guise as a Morrisons Daily.

Two weeks after opening, Pricewatch predicts the 2,500sq ft store will be a £40,000 a week operation, and that the forecourt will deliver four million litres a year, up from 1.25 million litres previously. The figures have “caught everyone off guard”, said general manager Tom Buckley, with the business not expecting the launch to be so strong.

Keen pricing will be central to maintaining strong fuel sales, with Pricewatch aiming to charge the lowest price per litre in at least a five mile radius. “We have been very competitive on petrol, starting at 141.9p and now at 144.9, the cheapest within 10 miles,” said Tom.

The renamed leasehold site, Wivelsfield Service Station, is supplied by Gulf. It is a semi-rural location, on the B2112 between Haywards Heath and Ditchling at Wivelsfield Green, with plenty housing being built and the only neighbouring competition a Londis village shop with post office. Nearest supermarkets are three miles away at Haywards Heath.

The business spent close to £450,000 on the project and Tom says that because the forecourt is on such a big piece of land it has great potential to develop further. There is another unused workshop at the back of the building, of at least 2,500sq ft, and a bungalow where it will move its head office to from Brighton. “There is so much space you could open a market,” said Tom.

The four tanks on site were relined and the pumps and pipeworks replaced by Eurotank. Mepsan pumps are used to dispense unleaded, super unleaded, and diesel. And an airline for tyres, a vacuuming facility and Inpost lockers are available. “We were lucky that the canopy was around six years old and did not need replacing,” said Tom.

The business, a former Pace site which had been closed for around nine months, is now looking into the possibility of introducing jet washing and laundry machines from Revolution.

The area, popular with London commuters, is relatively prosperous, and the Morrisons Daily houses three Cook-branded freezers. It also has a Rollover hotdog display and Morrison hot food – such as chicken burgers, bacon and sausage baps and pasties, as well as a bakery with freshly baked rolls and baguettes. There is also a Costa Express, Skwishee slush and an iSqueeze fresh orange juice machine.

The big surprise has been the popularity of the store’s fresh range, which includes whole chicken, mince beef, salmon and pork chops. “Fresh can be quite scary from a wastage point of view, but we have been amazed by how well it is is performing across fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy, and wine has sold incredibly well chilled,” said Tom.

“If you needed to do a weekly shop here you could. We have become the local supermarket for the area.

“Because we have only been open during the school holidays and not seen so much commuter traffic we don’t know if that will impact sandwiches which are quite slow. We are hoping for a second wave of business for breakfast and lunchtime meal deals,” he added.

“We knew this would be a good site because of its size and location, but we didn’t realise quite how good. It really is a phenomenal site.”

Wivelsfield Service Station is the second Morrisons Daily for the business which also takes the fascia for its Horsham, West Sussex, convenience store. All of its other forecourts are with Nisa.

Pricewatch, which has been operating since 1997, is owned by Anthony and Paul Salvidge. Three of its forecourts are branded with Esso, four Gulf, one BP and two are being rebranded from the group’s Power brand. It plans to open its third Morrisons Daily convenience store in Tonbridge by September.

Pricewatch also owns an oil terminal at Shoreham port which once supplied its own sites. Now it mainly services building sites and large fleets as well as providing domestic heating oil, under the Local Fuels brand. Since switching to the nationally recognised fuel companies to supply its forecourts, volumes have gone up by 35%, said Tom.