GENERAL APPEARANCE: The Millwood Motor Company site is situated at the edge of the large village of Cam in Gloucestershire. In addition to the impressive new Shell forecourt and Spar shop, the site offers a Mitsubishi dealership and what is claimed to be ’the only official UK sales outlet for Caterham cars’.
FORECOURT: The highly-visible Shell pole shows illuminated fuel prices. Prices were competitive and the four pump islands were in constant use. The site has very recently been refurbished and the forecourt layout works well. There is a clearly signed entrance and exit that makes access to the pumps easy. Up-front parking by the shop includes a designated disabled space. A large Shell-branded canopy covers the pump islands and the parking area in front of the shop.
The car wash and jet wash are to the rear of the site but were clearly signed and access was good.
Front-of-shop offers included an ATM, winter fuel and barbecue items, newspapers and flowers.
Some Spar promotions were advertised at the pumps. Display boards promote ’2ppl off when you spend £20 in the shop’ plus the fact that Simply Coffee is available in store.
SHOP: This airy, bright and spacious 150sq m store is the product of a significant investment and partnership between the owners and Spar. It is barely six months since the store opened. It is well laid out and features all the key categories and services of a modern forecourt c-store. Trading hours are 7am to 10pm every day.
Fuel-only customers have good access to the tills past an extensive range of confectionery and snacks. And by the tills is an attractive food-to-go and Simply Coffee offering. At the entrance a gondola end encourages shop sales with ’Real Deal’ Spar offers, a display stand of holiday toys, and access to the main body of the store.
The fresh produce offering was not at its best with a number of lines looking tired and some marked down in price. The short-life product range was extensive but again a number of products were marked down to clear.
The grocery range is quite comprehensive and way beyond a top-up service. There is a good off-licence section.
An extensive range of Spar branded products are on offer. But I had difficulty in finding many ’local’ products.
The customer toilets were excellent.
Customer service was a little below expectations with two members of staff "out the back dealing with a delivery", leaving the one member on the tills to cope with a growing queue of customers.
PROGNOSIS: Over recent years it has been a tough ask to improve fuel margins and volumes. Hence, forecourt operators have increased investment in other services and, in particular, the shop. Over 90% of forecourts now operate a c-store.
Consumers have responded by spending more at forecourts and this trend is likely to continue.
DIAGNOSIS: Millwood Motors is well located for motorists travelling from the market town of Dursley and Cam before heading for the A38 and M5. The refurbished forecourt, competitive pump price and convenience of location seem to be working well, judging by the steady stream of motorists refuelling.
The success of the Spar store may be another matter. I reckon it is under-performing and here its location on the edge of village may be a disadvantage. At the other end of the village is a Tesco without a forecourt.
PRESCRIPTION: I believe the Millwood Spar store is trying to compete with the Tesco supermarket on level terms rather than developing a point of difference.
The forecourt is a fuel destination and should introduce regular food-to-go/meal deal offers.
I wonder how much the Millwood Spar store is an integral part of the local community? Does it support its customers and local causes?
It is a truism that to grow their businesses retailers need to attract new customers as well as retain existing ones. The many households of Cam must offer a huge potential and by getting to know the community better and offering what they want, it should help drive the performance of Millwood Spar.