Award-winning forecourt retailer Darren Briggs has extended his estate with the announcement that he is to open his latest Best-one forecourt store in Stoke bringing the number of stores operated by his Ascona Retail Group to five. 

Following on from the launch of his Hinton forecourt in October – formerly a Spar – and his Southam store in February, a former Londis, Darren secured the new site on the 6 March and is working with Bestway Wholesale to rebrand it as Best-one over the coming weeks.

Darren said: “To make the transition from having one or two stores to five or six needs a different focus and mindset. You have to devolve responsibility and be 100% confident in your team to ensure the day-to-day running of the businesses. Best-one’s support has enabled me to focus on growing the business as it takes time to pinpoint and evaluate the good sites.”

The three new sites are all very different. The Hinton forecourt is on the main feeder road from Bournemouth to the motorway, and is a more transient site with additional seasonal sales; Southam is on the outskirts of town and will benefit from housing regeneration in the local area; while the latest store in Stoke, previously a Premier store, is more of a community-based store that includes a Post Office.

Darren continued: “Where’s the challenge in talking one format and simply inserting it into a shell? The challenge is to ensure that each store operates differently and meets the needs of drivers and shoppers This is where I appreciate the help of the best-one team in identifying the demographics, store potential and reviewing the business plan to make sure that we are on track to deliver the best possible results.

“Since moving over from Costcutter two years ago, I am really pleased with the support I have received from the Best-one team and it is my plan to open additional sites this year, so watch this space.”

Steve Caldecourt, head of multiple accounts at Bestway Wholesale, commented: “Working with Darren has been a real pleasure – someone who is willing to listen, kick back when necessary and work in partnership with us to drive sales in his stores. The Southam store is a great example of how you can revitalise a tired-looking store into one which is bright, well merchandised and enticing for shoppers. As a business we value Darren’s commitment to Best-one and look forward to working with him in the future as he looks to expand his forecourt operations.”

In the 2017 Forecourt Trader Awards Darren won the West Country & Wales: up to 4mlpa category for his Gulf Crossways Service Station.