Our round-up of the Forecourt Trader of the Year 2016 winners moves on to the Midlands and Northern England
midlands: up to 4 mlpa
The staff at Blakemore Retail Spar Newark were extremely proud to emerge as winners in what was a very competitive category. Site manager Julie Sharpe, who has worked at the site for five years, says running a successful business is all about dedication, passion and good customer care. New staff are imbued with the importance of customer service as a top priority: "If you give bad service the customer won’t come back," she stresses. "We pride ourselves on our customer service levels. Many of our staff are multi-skilled and are able to work across all areas of the business which helps maintain efficient cost controls and improves customer service and operating profits. Our site offers everything from fuel services, car wash facilities to full all-day meal solutions; plus Subway, Costa Coffee, including all the essential grocery offer expected in today’s innovative convenience retail store. Our customers can be confident of comparable promotional prices to any of our competitors. We also offer a popular parcel send and collect service."
northern england: up to 4 mlpa
In late 2015, NJB Services Newton Park was the subject of a £250,000 investment programme resulting in a complete redesign and refit of the forecourt and shop. It retained its Jet fuel but switched to a Spar store.
Owner Nick Baker took the redesign as an opportunity to significantly enhance the site’s food-to-go offering. Prior to the work, the site just had a small Subway franchise and no hot food-to-go. The existing Subway was moved to the other side of the store and updated to Subway’s Metro brand. It offers the full range of Subway subs, salads, snacks and soft drinks, as well as hot drinks from a bean-to-cup coffee machine.
Last January, Nick’s Cheeky Café brand was added to the site, which includes the exclusive blend Cheeky Café coffee as well as a Cheeky Cha machine that serves tea. Nick says that within a matter of months, Newton Park has repositioned itself as the "ultimate convenience hub", combining the popular Jet, Spar, Subway Metro and the Cheeky Café to meet the needs of thousands of customers who return regularly.
midlands: 4 mlpa plus
The Shell-branded Markham Vale site is an impressive new-to-industry development from the Euro Garages stable, representing a sizeable £2.3m investment. Situated adjacent to Junction 29a on the M1, it is part of a 200-acre business park, which includes a McDonalds drive-thru. It attracts the millions of motorists driving along the motorway in need of a refuel for either themselves or their vehicles.
First stop is the striking forecourt with its four-island starter grid petrol pump arrangement, plus separate HGV pump island which has generated a fuel volume of 10.25mlpa.
There is ample parking, which enables customers to take advantage of the superb standard of facilities that we have come to expect from Euro Garages, the two-time Forecourt Trader of the Year winner, which raised the bar considerably when it first won the award in 2011. The 24/7 Spar convenience store incorporates a Subway and Greggs in a welcoming and contemporary retail space. The site also features a Starbucks Drive Thru.
northern england: 4 mlpa plus
The Sewell Group acquired the South Cave site 20 years ago, but it was originally designed some 40 years before then. It has obviously changed over the years but it was not until 2015 that the site benefited from a knockdown rebuild and investment of £1.5m.
The result was worthy of winning not just the Northern England category, but also the overall Forecourt Trader of the Year award 2016. Today South Cave is a fine example of modern forecourt retailing with all the facilities customers would expect: a spacious forecourt; car wash and valeting; 25 parking bays; cycle rack; outdoor eating area; and an electric charge point for cars.
The store is three times the size of its predecessor and has a farm shop feel about it but a very professional farm shop. The range includes the big brands you’d expect in a 21st century convenience store as well as over 100 local products such as specialist breads, cakes and chocolates. There is also a Subway with seating area as well as two Costa Express machines.
best design & development - sponsored by harvest retail
The impressive Wellington Service Station site in Somerset was designed to create maximum visual impact for vehicles coming from junction 26 of the M5 as well as traffic from the A38. The building was designed to provide clean contemporary aesthetics with selected materials to achieve high levels of thermal efficiency and sustainability. The shop incorporates a full-height glazed shopfront, which welcomes customers to the site and provides important visibility to the forecourt.
The site’s layout was designed to allow free flow of vehicles providing separate car and HGV refuelling facilities and with car parking in front of the shop so customers can park up without having to cross the forecourt. The forecourt has a full-width canopy linked to the shop with barrelled roof lights to provide natural light onto the forecourt while still providing protection to customers in bad weather. The site is completed with valeting facilities including a jet wash and automatic car wash.
best food-to-go outlet - sponsored by rollover
Food-to-go sales are up a whopping 50% at Maxol Spar’s Scarva Road site in Banbridge, thanks to its Moreish offer coupled with a dedicated team who work tirelessly to ensure all of its customers are satisfied and keep coming back for more.
Hungry shoppers are invited to take ’Three Steps to Food Heaven’ where they get to choose their bread, filling and sauce. For those who find making a choice from all the delicious options too much, there are Speciality Sandwiches such as the Moreish Club and the Pulled Pork BBQ.
Staff are encouraged to engage with customers to recommend new items and advise them of any offers.
Store manager Julie-Ann Ewart says offers have helped build sales, with the Moreish loyalty card a favourite, where once someone has bought five sandwiches they get their sixth free. A similar offer runs on drinks.
best FORECOURT LOO - sponsored by FAST Track
The Green Welly Stop’s loo could really be considered the ’gold standard’ in toilets as not only did it pick up the Best Forecourt Loo accolade at the Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards 2016, it also won the 2016 Scottish Roadside Restaurant/Service Station Loo of the Year an independent national award, supported by the National Tourist Boards of Great Britain and Ireland. In fact, Green Welly has won its five-star platinum award for eight consecutive years and one of its staff was also named Toilet Attendant of the Year in 2016.
You can see why when you realise that the site has over a million people pass through it each year. Toilet facilities for them include 17 cubicles, 17 sinks, nine urinals, nine hand driers, 10 automatic air fresheners as well as tens of thousands of rolls of toilet paper. The Green Welly team cleans approximately once an hour and all toilets are deep cleaned at the end of every day even on Christmas Eve and Hogmanay!