Rural winner of the year 2005 - Sharon McKenna

The Vivo Templepatrick forecourt in County Antrim really must be getting it right – this is the second year in a row it has won an award in our rural category and this year it has gone one better to be named overall winner of the group. However, Sharon McKenna, until recently manager of the site, says that winning won’t make the team complacent. “We’re delighted to win another award.” she says. “It keeps you motivated. It’s brilliant for staff morale. They’re very proud of their shop.”

The BP-branded forecourt is situated on the edge of a village, around 12 miles from Belfast, but is also on the main route to Belfast International Airport. The site is one of 39 forecourts owned and operated by Henderson Retail in Northern Ireland.

Sharon joined the company eight years ago after completing a degree in business studies. She ran the Templepatrick site for just over two years and has recently moved on to manage a convenience store in Cullybackey. Her management style is to try and stay out of the office as much as possible and to focus on the shop floor.

“I think the staff and customer service at Vivo Templepatrick was what made us stand out,” she says. “Also the product range set us apart from other forecourts. You could come and do your weekly shop.”

Indeed, Sharon oversaw a partial refit, which introduced higher shelving and increased the product range by over 300 lines. As well as a full grocery offering and freshly baked bread, the 4,300sq ft store also boasts a sandwich bar and hot food counter, a butchery, Post Office and a dry cleaning service. Forecourt facilities include a drive-through car wash and jet wash.

The site opens from 6am to midnight, seven days a week and has 36 full- and part-time staff.

Forecourt and shop turnover is £120,000 a week, with fuel volumes around 72,000 litres.

Not content with just one award, the site was also named best multiple village store at sister publication Convenience Store’s Top Shop Awards last month.