At the southern end of Uckfield is a Petrogas Applegreen site. This was the first Applegreen to introduce a Subway store and a new store design. I was interested to see it now, after about a year of trading.
The pole with the distinctive Applegreen logo shows prices and both the Subway and Costa Express brand names. The large canopy with wood baton type cladding claims Applegreen ’low fuel prices, always’.
The three pumps were steadily busy and at 126.8ppl and 133.8ppl, the prices were significantly lower than the forecourts I had passed on my journey to Uckfield.
There are notices stating that this site does not accept fuel cards.
The forecourt includes a jet wash at the very competitive price of £1, airline and water, a vacuum and a free-to-use ATM. Designated parking spaces are limited and all were in use during my visit, with most drivers buying Subway food.
Among various shop-front offers there are large containers of screen wash, newspapers, a Lottery play station and winter fuels. The window includes an illuminated ’Subway open’ sign and posters promoting Subway deals.
The fascia is green and simply states at one end ’Applegreen’ and ’Uckfield’ at the other. To the side is more wood batoning on which are the Subway and Costa Express logos.
This attractive exterior design communicates a wholesome freshness. Is this theme continued inside?
The shop is quite small with a lot of things fitted in a tight space.
The Subway counter dominates the rear wall and there were a number of customers queuing for service. Neither the Costa Express unit nor the Snow Shock slush machine were used during my time in the shop (probably 15 minutes) as I ate my sandwich at the short counter at the front of the shop.
On the counter was a Comments box, but no cards on which to write anything.
The shop offers a very limited range of top-up groceries and a number are available under the Musgrave SuperValu brand. There was a neat display of Easter eggs, a fair selection of wines and beers, soft drinks, crisps/snacks and confectionery.
Food-to-go is a major priority here. In addition to the Subway, Costa and Snow Shock, there is a range of bake-off pastries and pre-packed sandwiches.
Musgrave had just made a delivery to the site and it seemed most of the stock was stacked in a narrow area by the counter where I was eating. This was also the way to the customer toilet so all a bit inconvenient and a bit of a hassle.The toilet was reasonable but a bit of a clean would have improved it.
The member of staff at the till was most friendly and helpful but did not offer details of the Applegreen Rewards card when I said I did not have one.
In addition to its business in the Republic of Ireland, Petrogas continues to grow the number of Applegreen sites it operates in the UK.
If the customer reaction to last year’s developments at Uckfield (new branding, Subway and Costa Express) were judged to be a success, the plan was to roll them out to other Applegreen sites.
Applegreen has been innovative in meeting customer needs not in the competitive grocery market, but in the eating and drinking on-the-go market where, if done well, profit margins are healthy. Research indicates that it will continue to experience strong growth in future years.
The Subway system seems flexible and relatively easy to operate and the counter is working well in this Applegreen. Subway helps meet the wholesome and fresh Applegreen image. On the day of my visit, most of the people in the queue were young and I suspect not drivers so it was meeting a need not met by other fast food outlets in Uckfield and there are of lot of them!
Forecourt space prohibits an increase in the number of parking spaces, which is a shame because if they had more I am sure the store trade would increase. Maybe the designated bays can be relaid out to make room for more?
The promotion of the Applegreen Reward card scheme by checkout staff would definitely help build customer loyalty.