The village of Oxshott is located between Esher and Leatherhead. Close to the main Chelsea FC training ground, it has been described as the "most expensive village with the most footballers in England". My reason for this visit is MRH Retail’s new convenience store, Hursts.
Located at the north end of the village, the 24-hour site is clearly visible and the illuminated Esso sign indicates that fuel prices are 2ppl cheaper than regular service station competition (I checked several sites on my journey to Oxshott).
The busy site is roughly triangular in shape and has limited space. Tight access to the pumps was complicated during my visit, as some nozzles were ’not in use’, which caused drivers to change lanes. Each island of pumps was topped by details of non-food offers.
The car wash was not working but a clear menu of options was displayed. Air, water, Calor Gas and vacuum services were available.
A number of posters around the forecourt promote various shop offers including a value-for-money meal deal. Attached to the canopy stanchions are ’We fuel progress’ signs, but one was hanging loose due to the recent gales.
At the shop front offers included an ATM, winter solid fuels, newspapers, flowers and the Lottery playstation (yes, outside the shop and rather damp).
The new Hursts logo is in a violet coloured script on a white background. The fascia includes the tag line ’a little bit of everything’. Under the front windows, the walls are completely covered in a violet and white frieze with graphics showing a selection of categories on offer in-store.
The shop is quite small but it seems that every square inch has been given over to generating sales. It’s full of shelving, cool cabinets, sales units and stuff.
The sandwich and snacks’ cool cabinet, immediately to the right, leads to the Costa Express unit. Opposite the soft drinks section is a small frozen food cabinet full of Rustlers products, on top of which is a microwave. An interesting DIY grab-and-go hot food idea I wonder if it will last?
The brightly signed ’Drinks Store’ (off licence section) includes a good range given its limited space.
Groceries are limited to a minimal top-up range but I thought the wrapped breads were rather hidden away. The news and magazine plinth had the ’top shelf’ titles covered with only the mastheads exposed good practice.
There is limited space for promotion displays. The offer on Easter eggs seemed strangely early and greater impact would have been achieved if a number of £1 offers had been available.
The customer toilet is in poor condition and needs some urgent attention. Rather ironic, when a bold notice draws attention to the fact that a ’Clean rest room promotes good health’!
Top 50 indie MRH Retail plans to convert 100 of its shops to Hursts during the early part of this year. A significant investment.
The new Hursts logo has impact as does the visual demonstration on the fascia of core store offerings. Interior category signage is vibrant.
The Hursts strap line ’a little bit of everything’ is a huge promise to shoppers and builds an expectation that must be delivered in-store.
For years the convenience store category management mantra has been ’less is more’. The Hursts store at Oxshott is small, and for its size is certainly attempting to offer ’a little bit of everything’ but could more be less? The many products on offer are all standard c-store sellers so there’s nothing to make this store unique or to specifically appeal to the demographics of the neighbourhood.
The site’s competitive fuel pricing was attracting a steady stream of drivers but during my short visit not many were actually being converted to significant shop customers.
An immediate priority should be the refurbishment of the toilet.
Engaging with the local community would be a worthwhile initiative as this would help to develop a personality and following for the new Hursts brand.