LOCATION: Shell Lymington is located on the busy A337 Christchurch-to-Lyndhurst road at the village of Pennington, just a mile or so outside Lymington.

FORECOURT: The illuminated pole and the canopy with its bright red, yellow and white corporate Shell branding make the site very visible and distinctive. The forecourt is a large triangular shape that results in a long frontage onto the A337. Along the front are a number of flags promoting Shell V-Power Nitro+. The site is shared with used car dealer, Thorpe Motors.

A designated entrance leads to the pump area, which includes an Autogas refuelling station. And in addition to three islands of pumps, there is a separate high speed diesel pump. Each island was topped by a sign promoting an ’Any 2 for £2’ soft drinks offer.

The pumps were clean and in good working order and in fairly constant use. The retail price of fuels was competitive.

Behind the pump area are the large car wash, two jet wash bays and car valeting facilities.

The customer toilet is in a building next to the shop. The wash basin and floor were grimy and the walls needed a fresh coat of paint. And, like so many forecourts, the cleaning/maintenance list on the rear of the door had no entries! It would be best not to have it on display at all if staff are not going to complete it!

There are parking spaces for shop-only customers to the rear of the site.

Winter and barbecue fuels, flowers and newspapers are available at the front of the shop and to its side, a Calor Gas cage.

SHOP: The shop fascia simply states Shell Select Welcome. It’s a compact unit and offers the usual tight range of categories.

The food-to-go offer includes a limited selection of the Shell ’Deli2Go’ range, some Ginsters products and a Costa Express hot drinks unit. A wide range of confectionery, crisps, snacks and soft drinks seems to take up too much of the small amount of shelf and chiller space. Packaged groceries are limited to a very basic top-up range and there is a Wall’s ice cream freezer.

A small unit of shelving is given over to maps and there is a free-standing sunglasses unit. Quite a good range of car care items is available as is a unit displaying Rolson consumer gadgets.

In keeping with the rest of the shop, the till area is compact. It has two TV monitors above the counter that seem just to be promoting the soft drinks offer ’Any 2 for £2’ and a £5 deal on two disposable barbecue trays.

The one member of staff on the tills was friendly and doing a great job multi-tasking by dealing with two customers at once.

PROGNOSIS: Shell UK has recently concluded the sale of a tranche of service stations across the country to independent dealers but the exact locations of the sites sold have not yet been revealed. It is possible that Shell Lymington is one of those sites.

DIAGNOSIS: Shell is a major global brand with an impressive reputation. Its investment in the development and promotion of the Deli2Go concept and range has been bold. But if drivers and shoppers (there is quite a lot of housing around the site) visiting Shell Lymington want more than the absolute basics, they will be disappointed.

PRESCRIPTION: Shell Lymington’s retail price for fuel is competitive, the forecourt looks smart and offers a number of good facilities. Long may that continue.

The shop is small but has food-to-go basics hot coffee, sandwiches and snacks, supported by meal deals and limited top-up products.

So what to do to increase trade? Install a free-to-use ATM and then promote its availability.

Rationalise slow-selling products and ranges.

The addition of artisan breads as well as a focused range of dairy and produce would be a great attraction to shoppers.

The convenience sector is expected to continue to grow, and to take full advantage of all this, the owners of Shell Lymington will need to radically change the shop.

A knockdown and rebuild of the current shop and the building next to it would produce a convenience store that would meet shoppers’ changing needs.