LOCATION: This site is on the busy A11 Thetford by-pass in the London-bound direction
FORECOURT: It’s a well-designed site with plenty of parking so drivers can move off the forecourt once they’ve filled up, and park right outside the shop.
Advertising across the site tells customers that BP Ultimate could give them 21 more miles per tank. There’s also a 5ppl off fuel offer applicable when you spend £10 in the shop.
Shop: The shop fascia has Greggs to the left and Hursts Grab & Go over the door. There is also a ’Mealtime Filling Station’ name on the fascia which is a nice touch, if a little confusing as to the right of it it reads ’Welcome to Thetford West’.
Window graphics in green complement the Grab & Go part of the Hursts fascia and highlight all the food-to-go for breakfast, lunch and dinner that awaits you inside.
On the left as you enter, there’s a compact Greggs, which was quiet when I visited. There seemed to be more interest in the Stone Willy’s Kitchen.
Thetford West was the first of MRH’s sites to have a Stone Willy’s and there were plenty of delicious looking pizzas and paninis available when I visited.
There’s a decent sized seating area for eating these items and there are plenty of sockets for recharging phones etc.
There are two Costa machines with sweet treats in between them. Point-of-sale material promotes festive drinks to give you a ’festive feeling on the go’. And for those who prefer tea, Tetley is available.
Pot Noodles, Hot Pots and Porridge Pots are also available, conveniently situated next to a microwave so customers can tuck in straight away.
The Grab & Go offer continues with the usual Meal Deal (£3.99) but also a more unusual Breakfast Meal Deal featuring products such as Belvita breakfast biscuits, Tropicana, Frijj milkshake, Starbucks frappuccino and fruit.
The Grab & Go promise really is fulfilled in the shop as there seems to be something for all tastes hot and cold, sweet and savoury, healthy and not-so-healthy.
Elsewhere around the shop, there are also some very good offers Red Bull at ’2 for £2’ when one single can was priced at £2.09 and Frijj milkshakes on offer at £1 versus their typical £1.49. In addition, there’s a decent bread, eggs and milk deal where you get two items for £2.50. However, there were also some eye-wateringly high prices such as Milk Tray 180g at £5.59 when it’s available for £3 in Tesco, and Terry’s Chocolate Orange for £4.55 when you can get one for a quid in Asda. I know you’re paying for the convenience but that really is insult pricing.
There’s an excellent alcohol range (with a lot of it chilled) in MRH’s Drink Store section, with signage that promised ’Great deals on drinks’ and ’Wow money saving offers’.
And, despite being principally a Grab & Go outlet, room has been found for a range of grocery essentials, a good car care selection as well as a compact petfood/household range.
Prognosis: Thetford West underwent a £1.2m knock-down-rebuild earlier this year as part of MRH’s ongoing development programme to raise standards across its network. Each site is being reviewed then developed according to customer mission.
Diagnosis: This is a good site, as it should be given the £1.2m that was spent on its development. It definitely delivers on the Grab & Go promise categories were well stocked and there was plenty to choose from.
My only gripe would be that insult pricing, which really does need to be worked on. Yes, people expect to pay a premium in convenience locations, but nowhere near that much of a premium. In addition, there’s a £1.95 charge to withdraw cash from the ATM which, when there are so many free-to-use machines available, leaves a bad taste.