In the surgery this month

Nantycaws Filling Station, A48, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire

LOCATION: Fuel prices in Carmarthen seem to be dictated by Morrisons and Tesco superstores they are competitive, at least 2ppl cheaper than the prices I saw on my journey to this site. It’s situated on a short dead-end slip road that runs parallel with the A48 and leads into a commercial vehicle secure parking area.

FORECOURT: Due to the verge between the service road and the A48, the pole is set back on the forecourt and is partly obscured by trees so is not clearly visible from the main road until drivers are almost upon the site.

With a distinctive white and red design, the pole is branded Oil4Wales (Olew dros Gymru) and the logo includes an adaptation of the Prince of Wales’ feathers. The prices are the same as Morrisons and Tesco for unleaded.

The corporate Oil4Wales logo is also used on the canopy that covers four islands of pumps.

The forecourt is long and rather narrow and at one end are a few used cars for sale. Running along the back of the site is a jet wash, a bold notice stating ’Red Diesel and Kerosene Heating Oil Available’ and a separate heating oil pump. Next is a bungalow with an arched entrance to the customer toilets, a row of wheely bins and then, at a right angle, the entrance to the shop. Beyond the shop is an LPG tank and fuelling point, and opposite a separate diesel pump.

Parking space is limited but the service road can be used.

The customer toilets are very unloved and grim. To flush the toilet there is a well-used string with a metal nut on the end. And the soap was very dirty it all needs a serious clean and refurbishment!

In front of the shop there is a stack of white (now grey) plastic chairs, an aged Wall’s ice cream sign, a local paper board and a My Hermes Parcel Shop sign.

SHOP: The shop, which does not have a fascia, is smallish and has a rather dated feel. Unfortunately, it is not consciously retro but has not been modernised for some time.

Categories are limited to basic product groups: soft drinks, crisps and snacks, confectionery, tobacco, milk and a limited range of packaged grocery. Promotional activity is limited.

A range of sandwiches branded ’Brombys from Wales!’, a coffee machine and a microwave are available.

Car care and a range of kit for lorry drivers occupies valuable shelf space.

PROGNOSIS: Founded in 2010 Oil4Wales is a family-run independent business that now supplies more than 35,500 customers in Wales, including more than 30 petrol stations of which some 16 are branded Oil4Wales.

The overwhelming experience of the majority of fuel retailers is that customers are now also expecting a first-class convenience store as an essential part of their forecourt visit. When these elements come together operators benefit from increased sales volume and profit.

DIAGNOSIS: Today, more than ever, drivers and customers are looking for more than just a good forecourt and convenience store. They are expecting a modern and sophisticated refuelling and retail experience.

PRESCRIPTION: The potential for this shop is huge, and to help realise this the owners should investigate partnership opportunities. Symbol retailing is highly competitive and retailers have a real choice of some first-class wholesalers, all wanting to increase their forecourt activity. So, a great opportunity to find the right package for this shop.

But some action should be taken now to improve the customer experience and to advance sales.

As a priority they should focus on the customer toilets, an ATM and hot drinks promotional programme.

Toilets: these need a refit and then a cleaning routine to keep them in tip top condition.

ATM: it is beyond doubt that ATMs drive footfall, in-store sales and repeat usage.

Hot drinks: there are a variety of brands, systems and deals on offer. Change your current system and then regularly promote the new one.

In addition, work needs to be done to make the site more visible.To fully reflect the pride exhibited in the Oil4Wales, the branding on the shop on this site urgently needs to be upgraded.