Philip and Lesley Tout walked away with plenty of accolades for their Budgens Nailsea store at our Awards, including the prestigious Forecourt Trader of the Year award as well as Best Independent with nine sites or less, and category winner for the Best Neighbourhood site.

Philip says the newly rebuilt forecourt near Bristol tries to stay competitive with the local supermarkets on fuel prices, but it’s the overall offer that makes it a winner with customers. "You have to look at the whole package, and we’ve recognised the importance of getting involved with the local schools and community. We’re very near a school and the mums will often come over to do their shopping when they pick up their children. It’s all about targeting the right sort of people and making sure you have the products and services they want." Also winner of Best Forecourt Facilities.


=== Oil company/supermarket-owned/managed ===

Spar Dundonald in Belfast prides itself on being a real asset to the neighbourhood because of the services it offers including a post office, Subway sandwich offer, Paypoint and facilities for photo processing. Martin Reynolds, who became manager last month after replacing Gary Brady, says about 50% of customers walk to the shop, which has other businesses nearby such as a hairdressers, Chinese takeaway and chip shop. Martin says: "We aim for a very high standard of customer service and we also try and make sure the shop is always fully stocked.

"Our chilled food is very popular. Pre-packaged lines like sausage rolls sell well as well as food for people to take home to cook later such as frying steak and chicken fillets."

Also winner of Best Display of Chilled Food


=== oil company owned/franchisee operated ===

Manager Peter Woods has run the Murco/Costcutter site at Canvey Island, Essex for 11 years.

He says it aims to offer as much as possible, from the car wash and vacuum on the forecourt to a well-stocked shop and customer service that is "second to none".

Peter adds: "A lot of our customers are elderly and if they can’t get to the shop they call us and either one of the girls or I will take their shopping round to them.

"We also try to get involved with local charity events, and recently donated money to the Red Cross for one of their training rooms in the area.

"It all helps to become a part of the community, which is so important - especially as there’s a Sainsbury’s within walking distance and a Morrisons nearby."


=== Independent with 10 sites or more ===

Chanterlands Service Station, Hull, is a relatively new site, and one that’s turned out to be an interesting challenge for owner Patrick Sewell.

He says: "We only bought the business at the start of 2008 and it’s slightly different to what we’re used to because it’s a neighbourhood site with a lot of students and housing estates nearby. It’s on the commuter route too. So we’re still learning about the environment we’re trading in. Shop sales are rising every week though, even in the current climate, which is very encouraging."

Patrick says the company has spent a lot of time and effort marketing the site, including local radio ads, themed events and delivering leaflets to people in the area.

Also winner of Best Tobacco Merchandising.