LONDON & THE SOUTH EAST: 2.5mlpa PLUS
Ken Popat (pictured right) spent £750,000 knocking down and rebuilding his Barking Service Station in 2010 and it has paid off not only in sales, but in winning awards, as he picked up the Best Site in London and the South East (2.5mlpa-plus) at the Forecourt Trader Awards 2011. The site now boasts a Spar store with food to go from Cuisine de France and hot beverages from Coffee Nation. On the fuel side, there are high-speed vapour recovery II Gilbarco pumps, a new jet wash with four programmes and new LPG tanks from Autogas.
Says Ken: "One of the most important factors in our business is speed of service, availability of day-to-day goods and services, and price of petrol. We have tried to tackle these by installing up-to-date software systems which has helped us improve our range. We also optimise Spar’s price promotions."
He adds that he has also taken steps to catch commuters on their way home from work who are looking for an evening meal, by beefing up his frozen, grocery and chilled ranges.
london & the south east: UP TO 2.5mlpa
Although Peter Woods (pictured left) of the Murco/Costcutter in Canvey Island has won twice before at the Forecourt Trader Awards, he says he was surprised to win at the 2011 event where he picked up Best Site in London and the South East (up to 2.5mlpa). "I was surprised because the competition was so tough," he says. "I think our strength is the fact that we really are a one-stop destination. Customers can fill up their cars, wash and vacuum them, buy their lottery tickets and do their shopping all at the same site."
Peter is particularly pleased with the shop’s new-look off licence section: "We’ve made some changes to make the range more visible. We’ve added new lines and put in more chillers."
He says it’s an ongoing battle to maintain store standards especially as the site is so busy, but he’s obviously managing to do so!
SCOTLAND: 2.5MLPA PLUS
Sebastion Nonis (pictured right) says he was surprised and delighted to win Best Site in Scotland (2.5mlpa-plus) so he’d definitely encourage other forecourt retailers to enter the Awards.
"We joined Premier in 2003 and since then the shop has gone from strength to strength.
"Ours is a very well-balanced business, which means we can warrant being open 24-hours a day. During the day we get a lot of passing trade and HGV drivers, but after 10pm we’re the only shop open so we get people coming from the 750 houses that are nearby.
"If you came into our store I think you’d be impressed by our range of promotions. For example, we’ve currently got Persil at half price.
"The margins might be lower on promotional lines but surely it’s better to sell more at a lower margin than for product just to sit on your shelves?"
David Charman (pictured right) who owns Parkfoot Garage in West Malling, Kent, won the Retailer Champion award for his work at the Car Wash Association.
This award was voted for via an online poll on the Forecourt Trader website. The other nominees were Bill Ahearn, managing director of Snax 24; Peter Brough, managing director of Manor Service Stations; Jonathan James, a fervent campaigner for independents and operations director of James Graven; the Simon Smith Group’s Brian Tew and his daughter Susie Hawkins; and Sunil Tandon, managing director of the Park Garage Group.
The Car Wash Association (CWA)is committed to ensuring that all the environmental regulations that apply to commercial car washing are being enforced across the industry.
The main issue is what happens to the detergents and chemicals used in car washing. If they are not dealt with properly, then effluent can run into storm drains and pass untreated into the local water system.
David is chairman and founder of the CWA. He says: "It was a nice surprise to win it was a real honour. I was delighted as this award was voted for by my peers and will give us at the Car Wash Assocation further impetus to keep on doing what we’re doing."
He continues: "This year looks like being a very interesting time for us. Our work continues all the time and we’re getting on with discussions with the government in a way we’ve never done before. There is a lot more understanding about the problems we face.
"In addition the Environment Agency seems to be getting to grips with the problems. This is important as we are almost certainly heading for droughts this year and with them will come a lot of attention."
Best environmentally-FRIENDLY outlet
JONATHAN AND REBECCA JAMES
Wisbech Road Service Station in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, was designed to be environmentally friendly from the outset. Owners Jonathan and Rebecca James were passionate about incorporating environmental impact reduction criteria into every aspect of the forecourt’s design.
The forecourt canopy harvests rainwater which is used by the toilet and jet wash, waste water is captured by interceptors and treated responsibly, and the lighting is all LED, which, while expensive to fit, makes significant energy savings and doesn’t cause light pollution. Says Jonathan: "Rainwater harvesting is really important in East Anglia where rainfall is notoriously low and it also reduces pressure on the local potable water supply."
The site also has doors on its chillers; cycle racks are available for staff and customers; and wastage within the store is kept to a minimum. One manager also has a refrigerated van so stock can be transferred between sites to minimise wastage.
Best FORECOURT facilities
ROBERT AND HUGH FRASER
Fraser’s Budgens of Yarnton in Oxfordshire overall winner of the Best Midlands site category is taking a different approach to marketing of its Aquatec-branded forecourt facilities.
Nick Fraser, shop development manager at Fraser Retail, explains: "We have tried to differentiate between the shop and forecourt facilities by using the Aquatec branding. It might not be a well-known brand but we wanted to differentiate our forecourt facilities with one single brand. It’s a new site so it’s not our busiest car wash, but we promote it with regular ladies’ days, pensioners’ days, gents afternoons and happy hours."
To keep the facilities in tip-top condition, Fraser Retail employs a permanent member of staff to maintain the forecourt every morning. "It’s not easy keeping the standards high but every morning our handy man gets the forecourt and shop up to standard and we then maintain that throughout the day."
Best hot beVERAGES outlet
The Esso on the Run chain has evolved and improved the Costa Coffee offer since the oil company opened its first store back in 2003, and the Kings Drive Service Station in Eastbourne, East Sussex, has consistently been one of its flagship sites.
The site, which also won the Best Hot Beverages Outlet category in last year’s awards, operates exceptionally high standards, and staff undertake an intensive six-week programme, ending in coffee exams at one of Costa’s training academies. Nik Mould, category manager for coffee at Esso, says internal and external impact of the Costa area is vital: "Upon entering the store the clear lines of sight draw the eye to the Costa Coffee area, with the Costa badge above the On the Run front counter. But the customer journey begins on the approach to the forecourt with strong external pole signage and the familiar Costa roundel on the external walls."