GENERAL APPEARANCE: Westacre Services is located on the Wilton side of Salisbury about a mile from the city centre on the A36 Bath/Southampton road. This is a joint branded Esso/Bargain Booze Select Convenience enterprise and is almost directly opposite a small Londis convenience store and fair-sized Shell service station
FORECOURT: The site has a bright pole with fuel prices and the shop well promoted. A clearly marked ’entrance’ and ’exit’ system was working well. A big Esso-branded canopy covers three fuelling islands that offer some 24 nozzles (some diesel nozzles were not working). Each island was topped with non-food promotions and access to all fuelling positions was good.
Fuel prices seemed generally competitive with others in the Salisbury area but the prices at the Shell garage opposite were 2ppl less.
No car services were available air, water and vacuum were all marked ’out of order’ and although the forecourt is spacious no car or jet wash is offered.
An ATM available at the front of the shop was in fairly constant use. Other shop-front offers included flowers (a rather poor selection), winter fuels and Calor gas.
SHOP: The shop fascia boldly states Bargain Booze Select Convenience. I judge the store to be around 2,000sq ft. Half of the shop is devoted to wines and beers spirits are displayed behind the checkout area. The other half contains convenience offerings. The ’segregation’ of the alcohol section must help with the implementation of the store’s Challenge 25 policy.
The sheer weight of promotional material attracted me to the Bargain Booze area. The range of wines and beers available is stunning speciality, top quality, mid and bargain lines are all represented and all seemed to be on offer. A good range of wines and beers are available chilled.
A display of ’sharing’ packs of snacks are displayed in this area of the store.
Close to the entrance of the shop is a CoinCasher unit, DVD rental unit, a Lottery unit and a number of bold promotional displays. Some promoted lines were new to me and fall into the ’value’ rather than brand-leading category.
To the left of the checkout area is the Select Convenience offerings. Most standard convenience categories are represented.
There was a small display of produce but a selection of apples and bananas were available for single purchase close to the Bake & Bite display and Coffee Nation unit.
As far as I could see, local products were scarce but a range of sandwiches from the Salisbury Sandwich & Catering Company were well filled and good value.
The customer toilet needed some TLC. An in-store Bargain Booze Select Convenience six-page leaflet devotes five pages to Bargain Booze offers and one to Select Convenience offers.
PROGNOSIS: In an age of conformity businesses that develop a ’point of difference’ can have an edge over their competitors. The owners of Westacre Services must see their partnership with Bargain Booze as their point of difference and a destination driver for the business.
DIAGNOSIS: A constant mantra of many convenience symbol groups is ’fresh’, and where retailers get it right it is obviously a great driver of profitable trade. A convenience store offering an exceptional combination of off licence, convenience, fresh and local together with well-trained staff and store standards would seem the perfect formula for success.
PRESCRIPTION: As I surveyed the Bargain Booze section of this store, I could not help but think that too many options make it harder for customers to settle on a single selection. Westacre Services probably used the Bargain Booze organisation’s expertise in selecting its range but the management of so many SKUs must be a challenge.
In comparison to the Bargain Booze side of the business, the Select Convenience side looks under-ranged. Westacre Services is well placed to develop regular convenience customers and drivers. Perhaps more could be done on the forecourt? Get all services in working order. Contemplate the installation of a jet wash. Try displaying newspapers from a dispenser in front of the store, introduce coffee and lunch deals.
Westacre Services is an interesting business and I am sure has the potential to develop further.