LOCATION: Hill’s Retail Redditch Service Station is close to the new town estate of Winyates, in the middle of a large residential area. Situated on the B4497, it is also very close to a large Bristol Street Motors site and a Morrisons superstore that sells fuel.
FORECOURT: Redditch Service Station has two price poles one close to the Bristol Street Motors entrance, and the other almost at the entrance to Morrisons both show illuminated fuel prices that were the same as Morrisons.
The clean and tidy forecourt is not overly large and has four smart islands of pumps under a Gulf-branded canopy. Each island was clean with most nozzles working and topped by a selection of non-food offers. During my late-morning visit, there was a regular stream of vehicles attracted, no doubt, by the competitive fuel prices.
Lack of forecourt space prohibits a car wash facility but to the right of the shop an air line is available and to the left, a vacuum. There are a few designated parking spaces.
A free-to-use ATM is prominently positioned at the shop front as is a newspaper display unit and various types of winter fuels and a rather scruffy display bin of various plastic toys. The Lottery play station is also at the shop front, I assume due to limited space inside.
SHOP: It has a Mace fascia with the tag line ’makes it easy’ and the Mace corporate identity continues inside. Floor space is limited but the shop ambience is light, clean, neat and tidy all demonstrating a very well-run operation.
Eat- and drink-now missions are catered for by a limited range of sandwiches and savouries, and a Simply Coffee hot drinks unit.
As with most categories here, the off licence section has a restricted range that is well presented.
The long rear wall is mostly given over to chillers.
There is no customer toilet.
One of the two members of staff in the shop was busy checking stock in the chillers and the other pleasantly and efficiently dealing with customers at the till.
PROGNOSIS: Hill’s Retail now owns three filling stations and is on the look out for more. The company has a partnership with Gulf and Mace.
The business has produced Awards’ shortlisted sites, with Redditch Service Station being a Midlands finalist in the ’up to 4mlpa’ category in 2015’s Forecourt Trader of the Year.
DIAGNOSIS: One of the owners of Hill’s Retail has recently made this statement: "I always look at our forecourts through the eyes of a customer and ask the simple question: ’Would I buy my fuel and groceries here?’ And the answer is always the same only if it is spotless, easily accessible, well presented and offering a high standard of service across everything it does."
Judging by this one store of theirs, I have seen they go a long way to achieving this. But I do have some concerns in terms of the future for Redditch Service Station.
The pace of change in retailing is accelerating and this very much includes convenience retailing. Consumer demand is also changing. Research indicates consumers are shopping more often and more frequently with a focus on an eat-now/today aim.
So how can Redditch Service Station exploit these opportunities?
PRESCRIPTION: Given the very close proximity of the superstore, Morrisons is always going to dictate the price of fuel that can be charged on this site. Limited forecourt space prohibits the introduction of a car wash but the outdoor area could be utilised in other ways. Outdoor advertising could be used to promote meal deals or a loyalty scheme.
I’d also recommend:
Reinforce the availability of key top-up products by regularly featuring milk and bread offers.
Give consideration to stocking a limited range of products with local provenance and a ’click and collect’ service. This could help develop a ’point of difference’.
Support/sponsor a local community project and develop a social media presence that should further develop Hill’s Retail’s heart of the community standing.
A key factor for the future of this business must be the maintenance of the current retail standards and a desire to become Forecourt Trader of the Year winners by further developing their retail offer.