I have read a lot of positive reports about Simply Fresh the fast-growing symbol group that places great emphasis on community-based, family-owned businesses that are encouraged to support local suppliers. The rustic style of branding promotes the concept of fresh foods and has an intriguing tag line ’convenience just got better...’. All this encouraged me to visit the first forecourt to sign-up to the group the Lunn site on the A38, a busy main road between Bristol Airport and the M5.
The BP pole and branded canopy are clearly visible from some distance. The canopy covers four fuelling islands and extends to the shop. Fuels include LPG auto gas and there is a separate HGV diesel pump.
Fuel prices were competitive with other sites in the area. Access to the pumps was fine but they needed a good clean! The large forecourt presented no parking problems but also needed a tidy up.
Access to the customer toilets is to the rear of the building the gents needed the loo roll replaced and a ’spring clean’. An inspection rota for the week was displayed but no entries had been made.
The only forecourt service available was Calor Gas and, to the front of the shop, solid winter fuel.
The bottom of the windows are bordered with a grass motif and the wood-effect shop fascia states Simply Fresh Weare and that line ’convenience just got better’. It all signals a different type of forecourt convenience store.
Facing the entrance is a produce unit with wicker baskets containing mostly pre-packed products from Cossey Produce a local supplier.
To the left is a tall, heated Cuisine de France display of hot savouries and then a Costa Express hot drinks unit.
More produce and a refrigerated display of soft drinks leads to a tight display of rolls (made in store) and Ginsters sandwiches.
I made my way round looking for locally sourced products. There were some meat products and Somerset preserves but the cheese and milk were national brands.
The off-licence section looks impressive with black shelving and the use of spotlights.
Some Heritage own-brand products are stocked and some unusual convenience store items, for example Duct tape and Exotic Parrot Food were among the items that caught my eye.
An ’Autumn Savings’ leaflet was available. Much the same as any other symbol group, but this was staggering in terms of the number of lines that were promoted.
I liked what I had read about Simply Fresh and I liked much of the Lunns store but it did disappoint in terms of local products. And the few that were stocked could have had shelf-edge cards telling their story to draw special attention to them.
Simply Fresh is the brain child of the Khera brothers. They developed the format when running their own convenience stores and were looking for a point of difference when competing with multiple-owned and other c-stores. There are now in excess of 40 retailers working with the Simply Fresh group. They have a supply agreement with Nisa and this provides retailers with access to the Heritage brand and participation in the ’Making a difference locally’ good cause scheme. Members are encouraged to focus on fresh and locally sourced products.
All businesses should regularly review their performance. The Lunn family and the Khera brothers are probably doing just that as they review the first six months of trading as Simply Fresh Weare. What might they consider?
Forecourt services should be developed certainly with the addition of an ATM (free-to-use). Also a car wash facility, as there is ample space. Ensure the customer toilets are always up to standard.Introduce a meal deal and promote it at the road side.
Promote currently stocked local lines. Customers like to know the story behind the products. As a priority, find a local source and stock a range of artisan bread and milk. Even local Cheddar cheese.
Constantly review standards and with an extended range of services and local/fresh lines then the promise behind ’Simply Fresh convenience just got better’ should be fulfilled.