Last month East Yorkshire-based Jos Richardson & Son proudly marked 125 years in business, with a celebratory lunch with family, friends and business associates. It was a great occasion and coincided with the official launch of the company’s new £4m service station and truck- stop development on Junction 36 of the M62 at Goole a project which has taken 10 years to complete but is already paying dividends, according to managing director Joe Richardson, who runs the business with his sister Jane, and co-directors Karen Marshall and Graham Andrews: "Our HGV diesel sales have doubled, the petrol station is 30% up on previous retail sales and rising," he says. "The shop is already at £30k, and rising. The Subway is at £7k a week. So we’re very happy."
To see the joy on his face as he stands on the sunny forecourt of his latest development, belies the many years of frustration and challenges he must have endured to achieve this goal which marks another step to securing the long-term future of the family business, to which he sees himself as custodian, managing it carefully in order to pass onto the next generation.
It was founded in 1892 by his great grandfather as a coal merchants. It worked well for three generations, but by the late ’70s his father Tim realised that the business wasn’t going to see him out. He shrewdly bought Glews Services which was a single workshop at the time and throughout the ’80s and ’90s expanded it with a couple of car franchises, service workshops, an accident repair centre, a 24-hour recovery service and a Texaco petrol forecourt.
Joe joined the company in the early 2000s and added a few more petrol stations the company currently has five, including Long’s Corner in Howden, and sites at Primrose Valley, Filey and Escrick.
"The site at Goole grew beyond all expectations, and by 2010 we were doing 16mlpa," says Joe. "Half of that was Euro Shell HGV volume. But weren’t able to offer the main Key fuels and UK fuels bunker cards which were big brands in the diesel sector due to congestion problems on the site."
The business was missing out on retail trade because cars were avoiding the site, and HGVs were clogging up the site. It was a real problem. There were also two car dealership buildings, which needed to be under one roof as that business was contracting.
Joe and his team came up with a concept to build the dealership on surplus land around the site; build a truck-stop and a lorry park; redevelop the petrol station.
But the complication of the requirement of a new roundabout at the exit meant this was not going to be a straightforward development. Though supportive, the local authority East Riding and Yorkshire council said there was no funding. "I got the feeling it was a very bureaucratic organisation at the time, very focused on Leeds and Sheffield, not so much East Riding and Yorkshire, but then following the financial crisis and the coalition government, a change happened," says Joe. "With the creation of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, smaller businesses like ours started getting a voice, and there was a sense of devolution in terms of where government money was being targeted.
"We had an initial bid for the loan for the roundabout rejected, but in hindsight it was quite good for us because a lot of the work was already done East Riding had specced and costed the roundabout. It meant we were ready to go for a Department for Transport grant, from the local Pinch Point Fund which was announced by the government in 2012.
"The local authority put forward the bid on our behalf, and got the grant for a £1.5m roundabout, of which the private sector had to put in £500k. Of that we put in £250k and a consortium of businessmen on the other side of the roundabout, who own a 40-acre field, put in the rest.
"So then we had to go through the planning process. We had numerous revisions to the scheme by the time we put in the planning application we were on revision number 35! For an application that was widely supported by the local authority the amount of surveys and reports we had to do was ridiculous. Our site is not surrounded by any houses we had no local opposition. To spend £100,000 on a planning process hurts a little, but finally we got the go ahead in September 2014; then we went through a tender process in 2015."
There were other difficult issues, such as realising the limitations of the architect and appointing a structural engineer that took them through the complexities of the build and managed the contract.
Joe also advises anyone handling a project of this size to get a good quantity surveyor on their side: "The QS who was working for the main contractor would just go round adding noughts. It was good to have someone in our corner batting it straight back at him."
By February the first phase of the development began, and the truck stop with 65-bay lorry park, an automated barrier system and free wifi, opened in October. Then followed the knock-down-rebuild of the PFS which features a Subway, an improved Spar shop, cafe, seating for 40 people, shower block and Costa Coffee. "My first email to East Riding about this project was in 2006, so it had taken 10 years of thinking about it and thinking that it was never going to happen but finally it did."