GENERAL APPEARANCE: Two miles from the end of the M56, on the A548 towards north Wales and at the entrance to Zone 2 of the Deeside Industrial Park, stands the large Euro Garages site (around 2.5 acres) with its 24-hour BP, Starbucks drive-thru coffee shop, Spar store and Burger King.
FORECOURT: Three poles advertise the site separate BP and Starbucks poles on the A548 and a BP pole on Parkway, the main entrance/exit to Zone 2.
It is obvious that the HGV trade is an important part of the business as several trucks were parked and the HGV pumps two under a separate canopy were in constant use.
The main filling station four islands (24 nozzles) under a large BP-branded canopy was less busy. Perhaps this was due to the time early afternoon (most of the industrial estate staff were still working) and the pump prices. These were a surprising 143.9 ppl for unleaded and 149.9ppl for diesel well above the competition, for example 135.9ppl and 142.9 ppl respectively a few miles away.
Two jet wash bays and pay-for air and water service points are available. The site has ample designated parking spaces.
At the front of the shop is a free-to-use ATM, a large display of screenwash, rock salt and a newspaper display unit.
The site is large and despite the various offerings lacks theatre. Potted plants/hanging baskets at the shop front would help.
SHOP: Through the forecourt entrance, to the left, is the spacious Burger King franchise area with a lot of seating. To the right is the Spar shop. This is large and, at first glance, seems to offer all the convenience categories.
Between both the forecourt and rear shop entrance is a long refrigerated unit with grab-and-go items and also ready meals, milk and a limited display of produce.
The confectionery, crisps and soft drinks offers are comprehensive. Groceries, baby products, laundry and pet care are all covered as is car care. At the far right end of the store is the till area, behind which is a display of tobacco and health and beauty products.
The Coffee Nation counter, with microwave, could have benefited from a clean. There is also a Photo-Me booth. There is an in-store TV system but, to my surprise, no off licence offering.
Spar brands and ’Real Deal’ offers were well merchandised.
In addition to the ladies’ and men’s toilets there are two shower rooms. The toilets were in need of a clean. There was evidence on the back of the door that there may once have been an inspection/cleaning system and it would be good if a rota could be reinstated.
PROGNOSIS: Euro Garages is probably the UK’s fastest-growing independent forecourt operator. The founding Issa family has built a number of trading partnerships with well-known operators such as Starbucks, Spar, Burger King, Subway and Greggs. Andy Bond formerly of Asda has joined as executive chairman.
Staff and their service to customers are very important to the group and it invests in training and has an incentive scheme called Extra Mile.
DIAGNOSIS: Euro Garages has certainly grown quickly and, despite some challenging trading conditions, is investing in new developments such as the licensing deal with Starbucks. Euro Garages managing director, Zuber Issa, has said: "We are looking for profitability we won’t be competing on price but on quality and customer service."
PRESCRIPTION: The premium price of fuel at Deeside must have a positive effect on profit but a negative one on fuel volume. Maybe the trade at the Spar, Burger King and Starbucks makes up for the loss of revenue? I assume the ’captive’ market from people employed on the industrial estate must be vital to the site. Also, the holiday trade from people driving to and from north Wales. However, competition is looming in the form of a Morrisons and filling station opening soon at nearby Connah’s Quay.
Some thoughts for consideration: review the fuel pricing; build a loyalty scheme for industrial park workers; apply for an off licence; extend the produce range. This site is already the winner of the Forecourt Trader Best West Country and Wales Site and with continued attention can remain a winner.