Being a knockdown rebuild, the Crosby Moor site has allowed the business to “push the boundaries of design”

Top 50 Indie Penny on the Move - formerly Penny Petroleum - has major expansion plans for the next 21 months including the introduction of a customer loyalty scheme, increased food to go, rapid convenience delivery, and seven more forecourts to bring its network to 100 sites.

The newly named business, which plans to complete its rebrand by the end of May, is due to open its 93rd site at Crosby Moor, in mid-April. It is the company’s first knockdown rebuild and this has given it the opportunity to “push the boundaries of design” with a large, glazed shop front.

The business, founded by David Penny in 1994 and now the UK’s fifth biggest independent, has also been investing in technology with a new EPoS system being rolled out as it continues to move to Costcutter across its stores in England and Wales - a four-month project that will be completed in May.


The rebrand to Penny on the Move will be complete at all sites by the end of May

The CBE equipment - introduced in March last year and currently in 46 of its sites - will help it garner business insights in both its shop and fuel sales, including the ability to make more detailed sales data between sites.

It will also allow the family-owned business to launch an app-based loyalty scheme early next year, and to trial electronic shelf edge labelling - with the concept initially being tested at two sites which it acquired last year at Barnard Castle, County Durham, and Lauder in Scotland.

The new EPoS system will also see the business endeavour to move to paperless invoice processing and, says chief operating officer Vicky Hennessy, it will enable its stores to get the split right between an own-label and branded offer. “I am really drilling down on making sure that we have a balance for every customer budget, and a loyalty scheme is part of this,” she says.

“We feel that we have hit enough store numbers in certain areas to offer a bit more to our customers over multiple sites. Having a loyalty scheme  will mean that we can track customers and reward them for repeat purchases.”

The company believes its investment in technology will pay off. “This year has been massive for us on tech,” says Vicky. “We are trying to get bang on up to date. I’m always looking at what is the next best thing out there,” adds Vicky, who is planning a repeat visit to the Retail Technology Show at London’s Olympia at the end of this month.

The Crosby Moor rural site, a £1.5m development on the A689 near Carlisle will sell BP fuel and have a 3,000sq ft shop when it opens in mid April.

“It’s a really exciting project for us as we usually carry out refurbs and add-on to existing buildings,” says Vicky, who plans to make the most of the store’s 3.5m floor to ceiling windows with inside neon signage in the company’s signature purple colour. “My objective is having kerb appeal to attract roadside transient business, as there is no walk-on trade at this site,” she says.

The design, which includes solar panels on the shop and canopy roof, an open ceiling, charcoal grey porcelain floor tiles, and a wooden slat effect area behind the tills, was carried out by shopfitter Vertex. The architect was ADS Design.

There are other energy-efficient additions. The shop and canopy are fitted with LED lighting, and the business has invested in Arneg refrigeration and freezers with doors.

On the side of the building there will be backlit Penny on the Move signage, and advertising for its Costa Express coffee machine, vapes - a key category for the business - and the novelty decorated toilets. There are three, eight hose pumps with all fuel grades (unleaded and diesel in standard and premium options), and also a gas oil and an Ad Blue pump.

Also on the property will be a laundrette with two Revolution washers and a drier, and a jet wash, with one bay initially, and air, vac and water machines. There is plenty unused space which has been earmarked for stage two of the development which is likely to include electric vehicle charging from BP Pulse, and parking spaces and fuel for HGVs next year. “We are looking to see how things trade for the first 12 months and then maybe to do this work out of season in 2025,” says Vicky.

There is a Food On the Move branded section which will include a combination of its own heat to eat range, together with bakery goods, pies, pasties, and sausages and bacon from local supplier Cranstons. The food will be marketed on TV screens and adapted for breakfast and lunch. At some of its other 31 sites that offer food to go, pizza is sold for the evening trade.

The aim is to have an app-based rapid delivery service for Crosby Moor - not just for takeaway food, with alcohol and vapes being the biggest sellers for the business across the estate through Just Eat. Currently 35 of its sites offer Just Eat, and the business wants to double this, but says that because many of its locations are rural it can be a challenge to find operators to deliver. It also wants five more of its forecourts to move into the high margin area of food to go in the coming months.

“The concept and approach we will be taking is ‘keep it simple’. You can have too much range and this creates waste,” says Vicky. “We have been learning since we put food to go in as to what our customers want, and if anything we will be consolidating the range and hopefully in doing that we can create a better value deal,” she adds.


The approach Penny on the Move will be taking with food on the move is ‘keep it simple’

Snacking in general will also be given prominence, says Vicky. The business has had particular success with the snacking category last year on items such as, flapjacks and protein bars displayed near its Costa Express machines.


Crosby Moor will have a room dedicated to Evri parcel collections and drop-offs

Also at Crosby Moor, there will be a room dedicated to Evri parcel collections and drop-offs. “We have been inundated with parcels piling up in the manager’s office at other sites,” explains Vicky. “Evri has been quite big for us, and so we now allocate quite a bit of space to it in our stores. It is a great footfall driver. With so many people shopping online, there are a lot of products being both collected and sent back through sites like ours.”

The disabled access toilet, which will take the familiar tongue in cheek ‘Spend a penny’ signage, includes the novelty of being marketed as a ‘room with a view’, with its walls covered in images of the local countryside.


Tongue in cheek signage on the toilet door

The business is certainly living up to its new Penny on the Move fascia. Alongside all of the forecourt developments, it is planning on opening its second hotel by the end of 2025, which it acquired last month in Northumberland. It opened its first hotel in Eyemouth, in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Additionally, it will be opening a further standalone car wash site, a bakery, and a farm shop. It has come a long way since its first forecourt opened in Hedgeley, Northumberland in the early 1990s.