Shop and fuel sales have rocketed since last month’s store opening at Pumphill Service Station, bought by expanding Top 50 Indie, Karan Retail, in 2020

Right - md Karan Retail - Sivasubramaniam Suthakaran;left operations manager Visnu Kumaranisanthan

Right: Managing director Karan Retail, Sivasubramaniam Suthakaran and operations manager Visnu Kumaranisanthan at the newly developed Pumphill Service Station

Shop sales have quadrupled, and fuel sales are up 20% within a month of the opening of Karan Retail’s newly developed BP-branded site, Pumphill Service Station near Clacton-on-Sea, Essex – its first knock-down-rebuild.

Visnu Kumaranisanthan, operations manager at the Top 50 independent retailer, said the site had been very busy since the 300sq m Morrisons Daily store was finally opened in early April, following an arduous two and a half years in development. “We’re really pleased, he said. “Shop sales have gone way beyond expectations, and fuel sales are significantly up too in just a few weeks. But we still have lots more to do.”

Karan Retail has grown to become one of the leading independent forecourt operators in the UK since its formation in 2007. It was ranked at no 11 - with 30 sites - in the latest Top 50 Indies listing; and is currently on the march to expand its network, having already bought six sites this year.

It acquired Pumphill Service Station from a small independent retailer in 2020. It bought the entire huge plot, the site of a former traditional car dealership, with the forecourt operation adjacent to substantial car showrooms – currently trading as a garden centre - and an independently-operated bodyshop business.

The first thing the company did was to knock down the small, outdated forecourt store, and redevelop the 3.5mlpa forecourt including resurfacing, installing new pumps and canopy.

Previously a Gulf-branded site that was out of tie, managing director Sivasubramaniam Suthkaran, known to everyone as Karan, signed up to BP: “It was an easy decision – about 18 of our sites are BP,” he said.

Elsewhere on the plot, the removal of a giant platform that had been used for displaying cars, made way for approximately 30 parking spaces. There’s plenty of space for further developments, including a charging area for electric vehicles, which BP is currently reviewing. The company’s retail territory manager Richard Teuten said the best option for the site might be using Pulse chargers with battery units that run off a standard 50kW feed.

Car washing is also being considered.


So far so good. But it was the shop development that caused huge headaches, with both planning, design and construction issues as well as the supply of various building materials all contributing to considerable delays.

Designer Andrew Melvin of Oxfordshire-based Shipton Design, said: “We had issues with groundworks, which was frustrating. With any construction you come across problems, you’ve just got to get over them and just get on with it. Availability of materials and increasing costs as a direct result of Covid had an effect as well. These are hurdles on every site I’m working on at the moment.”

As consequence the shop had to trade out of a Portakabin in order to keep shop sales ticking over “The forecourt has never been closed,” said Karan. “We made sure that as the development went through fuel was always available. There are not many forecourts in area – the nearest is four or five miles away. We didn’t want to lose customers who live around here.”

But it was worth the wait – albeit with a frantic effort to open the store a month earlier than planned, to fit in with Morrisons’ busy schedule for merchandisers to set up the store. It was a choice of either April or August!

“We’d all been waiting too long,” said Visnu. “Our heads were spinning but we made it. Opening was a great achievement. Everything had been a problem from the foundations upwards. But the store was busy within half an hour of opening. We open from 6am-11pm and we’re busy all day.”


It’s an impressive store. “We’ve tried to make it as bright and airy as possible – and as logical and user-friendly as possible,” explained Andrew Melvin. “We were going for as much of a floor area as we could get, because Morrisons have a minimum floor area requirement. We wanted to avoid having any columns in the shop, which created a few problems which we had to work round. But it enables us to put the shelving anywhere you like and creates a nice, big open space.”

Low-level shelving was also a design decision, according to Visnu: “It looks nice being so open. It makes a change – most of the shops you go into have such high shelves. There are more developments to come. A café area would be a new thing for us.”

The choice of Morrisons Daily is also a new thing for the group, and a move away from its usual shop brands – Budgens, Londis and Premier.

“We decided to look at Morrisons as a trial store,” explained Karan. “We did look at a lot of competitors, but the Morrisons brand appealed to us – it’s a major supermarket. The offer suits the neighbourhood, the pricing is competitive and the range availability is good as well. We’re catering for different types of customers - a mix of tourist traffic and locals.

“We’re grateful that it’s open at last,” said Karan. “It’s the beginning of a big learning curve that we may roll out on other sites.”


Karan Retail - Andrew Melvin, design director Shipton Design

Andrew Melvin, design director Shipton Design

Karan Retail - Chris Walton, National Installations

Chris Walton, National Installations, installed the canopy


Karan Retail Pumphill - Ravi Navam tehnician and installation engineer ADS Security

Marketing screens by Ravi Navam, technician and installation engineer at ADS Security,