GENERAL APPEARANCE: This joint-branded Londis Texaco site is located on the busy A429 and very near to the tourist ‘honey pots’ of Bourton-on-the-Water and The Slaughters. Judging from its geographical position this should be a gold mine and indeed it may well be, but it looks in urgent need of some TLC.
FORECOURT: Initial impressions are of a spacious site dominated by a large Texaco-branded canopy and a bright Londis convenience store. Surprisingly there is no car wash or vacuum unit, just air/water. Of the four pump points under the canopy two nozzles were out of action and one lane was not available due to the cleaning of the shop front. The pole had one light panel missing and there was one Texaco header missing from one of the pillars supporting the canopy. The Texaco rewards scheme WE.O.U was well promoted. The site had at least 10 parking spaces. The newspaper stand was a shambles – it was 4pm, but I suspect no-one had looked at it since the morning. Two wire cages contained winter fuel and BBQ charcoal and a Travelex atm completed the offer. The surface of the site left much to be desired.
SHOP: The shop certainly bears the footprint of Londis but does not fully deliver what it says on the Londis tin. The shop is a good size with an off licence, including chilled beers and Lottery. There was a small display of flowers just inside the door; an excellent magazine section and the usual forecourt convenience range of groceries for customers who I imagine are mostly motorists on the move. There was no fresh produce but a good range of snacks (including a number of brands rarely seen), confectionery and soft drinks. In the main the shop offerings were sound rather than inspiring with a distinct lack of promotions. During my visit the two members of staff I saw did not impress. One was leaning on the counter reading a newspaper and seemed totally disinterested in the three customers waiting to be served. The other made no eye contact with me, nor did I get a hello, goodbye, thank you – or even a smile – during my transaction. Neither was in uniform but the lady who served me wore a Petrol Express badge with her name on it. The cool cabinet did not display a single shelf edge price, although there was a typed Petrol Express headed price-sheet stuck to the inside end of the cabinet. Milk at 82p for one pint was rather expensive. On the left by the entrance is a small area for food-to-go including microwave and Kenco hot drinks dispenser. The area is small, the range limited and looked a bit of a mess.
PROGNOSIS: A recent report indicated that customers say c-stores are better than ever and stopping at a forecourt was something of a leisure activity. I guess this shop is an exception. I was quite happy to get back in my car. I expect Fosseway Service Station has highly transient customers but they deserve better.
DIAGNOSIS: Londis is clearly investing heavily into store refits nationally and I am sure that together with Petrol Express much could be done to raise the standard of this store. The fresh offering is virtually non-existent and there is no attempt to capture any of the local produce/food or tourist trade of the area. I am sure the stores food-to-go offering and general performance could be much improved. I believe a focused but limited promotion programme supported by point-of-sale activity would add much to the theatre of the store and would appeal to their impulse-customers. The forecourt also needs a revamp. Brand awareness is paramount today. Londis is good. Texaco is good. But Petrol Express? I wonder if the consumer may be confused by all the brands and what they’re responsible for.
PRESCRIPTION: Petrol Express, Londis and Texaco would be horrified to hear the huge difference between what they will insist is company policy and customers’ actual experience here. Retail is detail – an old, even trite expression, but still true. Short of further investment in refits, things would be much improved by better store management and customer service. Basic stuff, but it’s essential and it works.