Once again the neighbourhood category was one of the most hotly contested at the Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards 2006.
Karl Brocklehurst of Westbridge Motors in Northampton (featured in the November issue) was judged best independent with nine sites or less and also overall category winner. He then went on to take the coveted top prize, being named Forecourt Trader of the Year 2006.
A traditional family business for almost 70 years, the Westbridge Motors site’s latest redevelopment is an attractive 3,000sq ft Spar store, which is enjoying sales of around £50,000 a week in its first year of opening.
OIL COMPANY/SUPERMARKET OWNED & MANAGED
Vimal Raj, site manager of Esso’s Shinfield Service Station near Reading, had followed the Forecourt Trader Awards for the past 10 years, hoping he would one day become a winner.
"I’m now very happy," he says, after winning the best oil company/supermarket owned and managed neighbourhood site award.
"I’ve always focused on providing fantastic customer service and we’ve built up a strong, motivated team."
Vimal has been in the industry for 13 years, spending many of these as a self-employed Esso agent.
The 24-hour Shinfield site is in a semi-rural location, about a mile away from the M4 motorway. It was redeveloped into a large format On The Run in late 2004 and majors on foodservice, with Costa Coffee, bakery and in-store seating.
OIL COMPANY OWNED FRANCHISEE OPERATED
Husband-and-wife-team Anil and Seema Morar have set impressive standards at the Murco Costcutter site in Tadworth, Surrey, which they have run as commission operators for 10 years. As well as winning this award they have been among the top five finalists in the Murco National Cup reward scheme for the past five years.
The site’s Costcutter c-store, which was Murco’s original pilot for the fascia, was redeveloped a year ago, extending from 700sq ft to 1,500sq ft. The refit saw the introduction of Bake & Bite hot food and bakery goods, as well as extended chiller space. "In terms of fuel, we’ve got some local competition, but our new shop really makes us stand out," says Seema.
The couple put a strong emphasis on training and their staff generally know customers by name.
INDEPENDENT WITH 10 SITES OR MORE
Jonathan Mitchell, manager of Spar Millburn Road, in Coleraine, County Derry, says this winning site and its staff have always had a very good reputation locally.
The customer base is varied. As well as local residents and commuters, it caters for tourists in the summer while in the autumn the shop attracts students from the new intake at the local university. "We try hard to cater for everybody," says Jonathan, who has been at the site, owned by Henderson Retail, for a year and a half.
Staff are responsible for their own categories within the 1,800sq ft c-store, and this focus has paid off, with the site also scooping the award for best tobacco merchandising, a section looked after by Aileen Reid.
The large BP-branded forecourt also features a car wash and jet wash.