Irish forecourt brand Maxol has been busy developing its food-to-go offer to maximise the opportunity that’s been presented to them from their customers’ growing appetite for food on the move.

Speaking at Forecourt Trader’s Summit 2020, Aoife Kearney, food concepts manager at Maxol, explained the company’s journey. She said in the past forecourt stores were typically smaller in size, where customers paid for their fuel, picked up a newspaper, with a limited food offer.

Fast forward to 2020 and the sites are bigger, better and brighter with branding on the shop and forecourt communicating the food offer inside.

Kearney explained to delegates at Summit 2020 that they had done a lot of research into their customer base.

“We wanted to make sure we are fulfilling their current and evolving needs and keeping an eye on what they want for the future so we can move with them, so we undertook a research project that looked into their behaviours and attitudes. It was a really extensive research project that gave us some great insights into our customer base.”

Kearney then moved on to the specifics of ‘elevating’ Maxol’s food to go, focusing on five different pillars: Deli, Grab & Go, Coffee, Bakery and Franchise Brands.

She said there had been delis on the Maxol estate for years but the offering lacked consistency and they wanted to make sure Maxol had a standard, consistent offer across its sites.

To do this, the firm expanded the range and extended day parts. She said Maxol Deli’s USP is it’s quality homemade-style food on the go, with its more wholesome and healthy connotations, so that is a key focus.

Grab and Go was launched a couple of years ago using the Maxol name for the first time on a food product.

Again consistency was important: “We wanted a consistent Grab and Go offer nationwide, throughout the estate,” said Kearney.

She explained that cold Grab and Go was always located near the door to encourage customers to pass through the Grab and Go area to get to the till and maybe pick up a sandwich on the way.

Also in Grab and Go is the Fill to the Brim hot food counter which features a mix of handheld products, of which chicken products are particularly popular.

Customers serve themselves and take the food to the main till to pay.

Kearney says Fill to the Brim has been great at extending the food offer into the evening. 

With the bakery, they focused on a quality core offer. The croissants, for example, are made by a French supplier using real quality butter.

They also extended the range of ‘hero’ products; used AM and PM planograms to cater for different day parts; and monitored sales to identify key trends.

With coffee, Maxol introduced the Rosa brand which has done incredibly well, said Kearney. They use a 100% Arabica bean that’s unique to Maxol and have best-in-class equipment with milk froth technology. She said the units are designed for ease of use for customers, with different models to suit different stores.

Finally, there are the Franchise Partners: Chopped healthy salads; Insomnia coffee; Abrakebabra and Supermac’s fast food; Zambrero healthy Mexican food; Ground Espresso Bars. 

“The benefit of Franchise Partners is that they expand our offering and customer reach. The power of brands pulling customers in cannot be underestimated, plus again it expands our food offer into the evening.”