Pearl Forecourts new site at Royton

Pearl Forecourts’ new site at Royton,Oldham, one of four forecourts acquired by the business last month

Pearl Forecourts, which was the highest riser in Forecourt Trader’s Top 50 Indie league table earlier this year, has acquired another four sites in the North West of England during what is already an expansive time for the company.

The acquisition from Chedgold brings the Bolton-based business’s network to 17 sites and comes as owner Hanif Mohmed plans to introduce new concepts, including EV chargepoints, solar panels and also a drive-thru at a new build site at Bell Road in Bury which has just received planning permission.

The four acquistions are all Shell forecourts on busy A-roads, with high fuel volumes, which Hanif says is a pre-requisite for any future purchases. “We are not interested in 3mpla units. They have got to have volume and opportunity to develop,” says Hanif, who plans to extend two of the sites.

Plans for these latest properties include introducing car wash and jet wash machines, and his team is looking into the possibility of using a rainwater harvesting system for this equipment, similar to the one Forecourt Trader recently reported has been introduced at The Kay Group’s new Sandyford Service Station at Stoke-on-Trent.

Hanif, who bought his first forecourt in 1996, says that he has been inspired by retailers including EG and The Kay Group. He is talking to several brands for the drive-thru food and drink service at the Bury site. He is particularly interested in signing with Spar or Nisa, and for two ”food to go pods’” Greggs or local brand Greenhalgh, together with Costa Express for coffee.

But no decisions have yet been made for the site which is currently a used car showroom. Hanif does not expect to open for at least a year. Discussions have not yet started with suppliers on the fuel side, but a deal is close on who will provide six to eight chargepoints which he expects to roll out at other locations too.

One of these sites will be the Failsworth Shell forecourt it operates near Manchester. Hanif also plans to introduce solar panels at this location on both the shop and the canopy. He predicts Failsworth will be a flagship store for the business which is around five miles from Manchester, and driving towards the city is the last petrol station from Oldham on the A62.

That site will be knocked down and rebuilt, with work beginning next week and lasting three and a half months. The renovated site will include a 4,000sq ft shop, probably with Nisa or Spar, with an emphasis on food to go and fresh produce. The canopy is being raised to allow for HGVs and two diesel pumps.

The Failsworth project is expected to cost over £1.6m – and will include an electric vehicle charging area with six chargepoints.