LOCATION: My target, Verwood Motors, part of the Central Convenience Stores enterprise, is situated on the B3081 that runs through the town of Verwood, between the A31 and A354.
FORECOURT: Surrounded by a ’comfortable’ residential area, the forecourt is clearly identified by its illuminated Texaco-branded pole and canopy. The site is shared with Keith Motors, a new and used car distributor.
The fuel price instantly attracted my attention, it was startlingly low (3ppl less than my local large superstore) and during my mid-morning visit the pumps were constantly busy. The four islands of pumps are new the site having changed the fuel from Shell to Texaco in the past few months but are already in need of some TLC! The area around the diesel nozzles was quite messy.
Air, water, vacuum and Calor Gas services are available as are some designated parking spaces. Along the front of the site is a Central A-board promoting Vapouriz e-cigs and liquids, and also a giant Costa Express cup.
Newspapers, solid fuels and a display of screen wash are all available in front of the shop.
SHOP: The shop fascia is bright and clean, at its centre the logo ’Central’ with its strap line ’Convenience. All day. Everyday’, and at either side are brand logos such as Carlsberg and Coca-Cola. To the far left is the message ’Beer Cellar’. The shop was tidy and clean and crammed full of stock, most of which seemed to be sweets and snacks. Not unusual in the pre-Christmas period were a number of floor displays of ’special buys’ and seasonal products.
To the left of the entrance are the Costa Express and Rollover hot dog units and a cabinet for in-store bake-off pastries. There was a limited range of sandwiches and wraps in a cool cabinet.
There is a tight range of top-up groceries but the range of confectionery, crisps and snacks and soft drinks is rather wide for the size of shop. My overwhelming feeling was that I was in a large CTN, not a modern forecourt convenience store.
The off licence section had some very competitively priced wines and beers. Space is limited so floor displays are used for beer offers that make access to the wine shelving behind a little difficult.
There are no customer toilet facilities. The member of staff dealing with my fuel and shop purchases deserves full marks for helpfulness.
PROGNOSIS: Central Convenience Stores (owned by P&H and WS Retail) was founded in 2012. They currently have around 85 stores and ambitions to run 300 in the next few years. Their store formats include newsagents, traditional convenience stores and forecourts. Their current area of strength is the South and South West.
DIAGNOSIS: There are some key factors that a forecourt must focus on as consumers visit to refuel their vehicles and themselves. Refuelling vehicles is for now, but customer refuelling is for now, for later and for the days ahead. Is Central Verwood meeting these customer missions?
PRESCRIPTION: Surely the highly competitive retail price of fuel was attracting drivers to refuel their vehicles. But what then? Could forecourt space be found for a car wash facility?
The Central website states that the Verwood shop has an ATM but it doesn’t! According to research, 75% of retail customers expect to find an ATM service in a c-store. Surely the installation of an ATM is a matter of urgency.
Promote the current coffee and food-to-go offerings. Hot drinks and meal deals are a tried and tested type of offer. As are loyalty deals on coffee. All that would help meet the ’shop for now’ customer needs.
And for the ’shop for later’ customers consider reducing the wide range of confectionery and snacks and expand the range of meal solutions and introduce a limited range of produce or local products. A click & collect service may help to attract customers living in Verwood to visit the store.
Build the community aspect of the store by giving charity support to a local school or group.
All with the objective of encouraging those many consumers living in the catchment area of the store to become regular and loyal shop as well as fuel customers.
KEY FEATURES - FORECOURT
Airline & water
Wood, coal & charcoal
KEY FEATURES SHOP
Cigarettes & tobacco