LOCATION:

My target is in the beautiful holiday area of North Pembrokeshire. It’s located on the B4329, at the junction of the A487 between Newport and Cardigan, and just outside the small village of Eglwyswrw.

Part of the Brian Llewelyn enterprise is its ’country store’ (its yard full of gates, stock fencing, cattle grids etc). Last year it won the award as the Forecourt Trader Best Forecourt Retailer in the West Country and Wales in the up to 2.5mlpa category. It is that part of the business that is the subject of my stealth check.

FORECOURT:

Illuminated fuel price poles on both the B4329 and A487 sign the forecourt and shop that are on an area shrub banked just above the road. Making it noticeable is a flag pole and all this certainly helps to identify the site, which has a distinctive Murco canopy. There are two pump islands and a separate diesel pump. All pumps and nozzles were clean and working. Fuel prices were competitive.

The forecourt has limited space so there are only a few designated parking spaces, but there is plenty of room at the rear of the shop, which is where the jet wash is. Other services include an airline and water. Calor Gas is available, and at the shop front there’s a good display of winter and barbecue fuels as well as offers on garden compost. Signs promote Pembrokeshire potatoes.

The shop front is quite modern but does not have a fascia.

SHOP:

The door leading into the shop had grubby paintwork and is in need of a very good clean.

Right at the entrance there is a short run of excellent-looking produce. Some of it is clearly supplied by local growers but none is labelled with their details. It would be so much more effective to see that provenance detail and the prices on black chalk boards.

The shop is quite large and it extends into a number of rooms focused on the Country Store range with everything from six-inch nails to wellington boots.

All ranges grocery, wines and local beers, dairy, bakery and food to go are limited but include all the essentials.

A microwave and a Nescafe & Go hot drinks machine is available. I did not find many local products but did purchase a locally made Cornish pasty, which was excellent.

What I found disappointing was the lack of shelf-edge pricing and promotions. Each product was priced with a very small label from a pricing gun. It was difficult to find out the retail prices of the range of wines, for example.

But what is amazing about the shop is its extensive and varied range of gift and craft items.

The customer toilet is situated in the yard area. The staff were friendly and efficient and obviously had a good rapport with customers.

PROGNOSIS:

There are lots of shopping mission reasons for customers to visit and for passing drivers to refuel.

diaGNOSIS:

My focus is the filling station and convenience store part of the shop, and the question is how to maintain current regular customers and to attract new ones.

PRESCRIPTION:

To attract more passing motorists, the site needs to continue its competitive pricing and promote its services more.

They need to attend to the door to the shop and consider the addition of an ATM and Click-and-Collect service.

Although I often recommend that independent retailers consider partnerships with symbol groups, I don’t think in this case it would be appropriate. They are clearly striving not to be a standard, bland c-store and they have certainly created a shop of character. However, some of the symbol group well-proven retail disciplines apply to any retailer.

Know your customers provide a tick box questionnaire to find out what customers want.

Introduce shelf-edge pricing.

A range of promotions would add interest and stimulate sales.

Localism is very important and sales of the current range could be improved with ticketing that gives details of the producers. Recipe cards are always popular.

Promote the business at local attractions and at holiday homes.

Keep the Brian Llewelyn website and Facebook page up to date with news and offers. This is a prize- winning business and has the potential for more.