LOCATION: on the trunk road service area of the busy A14 near Huntingdon.
FORECOURT: This is a fabulous looking site. It’s spacious and easy to move about on in the car and on foot. There’s plenty of parking.
Fuel prices are marginally lower than the Tesco in Huntingdon and quite a bit lower than the nearest BP Connect site.
Banners above the pumps advertise the Costa, Greggs and Subway inside.
There are beautiful flowers just outside the door much, much better than the ’typical’ forecourt flowers.
Shop: It’s actually hard to describe the interior as a shop, as it’s much more than that. It comprises Applegreen’s new format with separate zones differentiated by different décor. This one features a Costa Café, Subway and Greggs all created to Applegreen’s own design but approved by all three brand partners.
The result is an interior with a great ambience it features an open ceiling, with lights hanging down and plenty of places to sit on brightly coloured chairs. The only niggle was that the floor could have done with a sweep.
As you walk indoors, you enter the shop part and can easily head straight to the till, if you want. The shop itself does a good job in mixing indulgent treats with healthier options, so you’ve got your crisps and chocolates but you’ve also got some great better-for-you alternatives.
There’s loads of food-to-go the usual sandwiches and pasties as well as Florette chicken and tuna salads, samosas, chickpea salads and pots of olives. It’s good to see this in a business that also has a Greggs and a Subway as it offers real choice.
There are lots of on-trend snacks such as Metcalfes’ ricecakes, Propercorn popcorn, Bounce energy balls and protein bars. These are complemented by a good range of better-for-you soft drinks such as Vita Coco coconut water and Naked juices plus Grenade Carb Killa, Weetabix on the go and Nurishment.
A nice touch is the Applegreen branded mineral water.
By the till there are lots of tempting snacks and on the counter there’s an e-cigs display, Gad Jet, AA winter windscreen cover as well as a box of Galaxy Caramel. And there’s a Splitz soft ice cream machine behind the counter.
Nearby there’s one of Applegreen’s Beer Caves and in addition a massive wine range.
There are promotional bays as well as Value Always offers dotted around the shop. These include a Bread & Milk offer ’any 2ltr milk and 800g Kingsmill loaf for £2.49’; Pot Noodles ’any 2 for £1.99’; Cadbury pouches ’any 2 for £2.49’; and Pringles 200g ’any 2 for £2.99’.
Some of the merchandising left a little bit to be desired some of the shelves needed filling and some of the products needed straightening up.
Children are well catered for with lots of kiddies’ sweets, toys and a play area adjacent to the Costa Café.
The toilets were excellent not just spotlessly clean but very stylish in grey, silver and black.
Prognosis: Applegreen is making big waves in the forecourt market with some amazing new sites not least of all the Forecourt Trader of the Year 2017 winner M1 Lisburn. Spaldwick was a knock-down-rebuild that only opened last September. And we can expect a lot more from Applegreen as the company is beefing up its property team in a bid to grow the brand.
Diagnosis: This is really a case of ’what’s not to like?’. But, when you have a site as good as this, you really need to keep on top of it to ensure it’s always looking its best. Keeping shelves full and sweeping up regularly are vital.
There is a sign above the till area that says ’Supporting your local community’ but I didn’t spot anything that expanded upon this ie how they were doing this other than offering a service. If Applegreen is doing more, it needs to be communicated better.