GENERAL APPEARANCE: The village of Square and Compass, Pembrokeshire, is situated about midway between St David’s and Fishguard on the busy A487. My stealthcheck target is the Square & Compass garage, which is clearly visible via its bright new Total pole.
FORECOURT: The Total-branded pole advertises ’Calor’, ’Cash Machine’ and Jet Wash’ plus it has the fuel prices, but there is no indication that the site also has a shop and that it’s a shop worth visiting.
Under a large unbranded canopy are just two pump islands - each topped with details of non-food offers. The site is very busy which results in some delay in being able to refuel. But even with the volume of usage, the pumps were clean and in good order.
Although there are some parking spaces, the volume of customers results in vehicles being parked haphazardly across the site.
An impressive Londis-branded porch forms the entrance to the store. A display of fresh flowers and a welcome message greets customers. To the right of the entrance is a bank of air conditioning fans. To the left are windows, special offer posters and above is a discreet Londis fascia.
SHOP: During my early evening visit it was clear that a large number of the shoppers were holiday makers. They were the ones the staff did not know by name and who were buying their self-catering supplies.
The shop is impressive - the product of much experience, know-how and expertise. Despite the seasonality factor, the owners have made a massive financial investment and have developed their store for locals and visitors.
It includes all the main c-store product and services - and more. The large produce section was exceptional with not a damaged or wizened product in sight.
Essentials such as bread and milk were prominent in their sections and there was a good selection of fresh meat and other meal ingredients. A number of Londis-branded lines are stocked.
There are also a number of free-standing display units offering a wide range of products including jewellery. Holiday and beach toys were available.
There are no customer toilets but on request I was immediately shown to a ’staff only’ facility that was immaculate.
Three tills were busy and all the staff were very friendly and efficient.
I very much liked the message displayed at the entrance/exit to the store from the owners. It simply stated that they wanted their business to be part of the community and that they aimed to provide customer satisfaction and so welcomed feedback from their customers.
PROGNOSIS: Forecourt retailers have the opportunity to drive sales and profit by developing their offerings and providing exceptional customer service. The owners of the Square and Compass enterprise have certainly seized an opportunity and have created a business that should provide strong growth in the years to come.
DIAGNOSIS: Range selection and display is key for retailers - both to ensure shoppers can find what they want and so that store space is used to maximum effect.
The Square and Compass Londis shop is large so space is not an issue, but the out-of-holiday season will present a number of range/stock challenges.
PRESCRIPTION: Consideration should be given to installing two additional pump islands.
The existence of the shop needs to be seen from the road so perhaps the canopy could be joint branded Londis and Total?
Many of the surrounding villages have lost their shop/newsagent/post office and the Square and Compass Londis is now their community store. Support for these communities and their causes should be a priority.
Very many home owners in the large catchment area of the store now let their properties - most on a self-catering basis - and many offer a basic welcome pack (milk, tea/coffee, biscuits etc) to their clients. What an opportunity to use these to promote the store and include in them a list of products and services and a money-off coupon.
The Square and Compass forecourt and shop is a great enterprise and I am sure it will go from strength to strength.