As symbol brands continue to penetrate the forecourt shop offer nationwide, another brand is throwing its hat into the ring with a committed programme to increase its forecourt count by 250 by the end of 2017. Paul Courtney is the man tasked to spearhead the campaign on behalf of Bestway Direct in his relatively new role (he joined in February) as head of multiple accounts. His background covers both the forecourt and convenience sector over the past 30 years, in both retail and wholesale operations, including a spell developing forecourts with Elf in the ’90s; and more recently a three-year term as sales director at Londis.

His key message to the forecourt sector is: "Bestway Direct the delivered business of the Bestway group is a significant player which can deliver equally as well as the traditional delivered symbol group, at lowest cost.

"Ultimately we want to partner with forecourt and multi-site convenience retailers who want to drive their businesses and their profitability. Whether retailers are looking for a branded support solution in Best-one or have their own brand, Bestway Direct will deliver them a ’lifetime cost benefit’."

He accepts that work needs to be done in raising the profile of Bestway Direct, more commonly seen as a cash and carry operator, but which delivers more than £650m-worth of sales per annum to over 1,200 customers, including 550 Best One stores. "Bestway is seen as a cash and carry operation, but our annual turnover in delivered business is bigger than the majority of individual symbol groups. But nobody in the sector would know that. Bestway is fundamentally an enormous delivered business, which has the infrastructure in place to support retailers across the UK, with 63 cash and carry depots nationwide, 11 of which are delivered hubs," he stresses.

"Our range is equal or better than anyone in the marketplace. In our core range we have more than 9,000 lines. We also have more than 1,000-plus lines in our chilled and frozen range, 80% of which can be single picked, which helps retailers manage waste and develop their sales going forward.

"Sat behind that we’ve got the support in terms of people, with a three-year plan to develop the appropriate people to support multi-site retailers."

Bestway Direct currently serves around 100 forecourts, about 50 of which are branded Best-One symbol sites. They are the more traditional 2-3mlpa sites with a 6-800sq ft shop on average. However, Courtney stresses that the range the company operates can service stores up to 3,000sq ft.

"What we’re looking for is established forecourt groups who are looking for the best support and the most profitability. These are emerging groups who are on the journey to five, six, seven sites and need the sort of support and range we can provide. There’s a big opportunity to get them into a brand such as Best-One. But we will supply them even if they don’t want that particular fascia."

Apart from site numbers, the decision-making structure is also key, says Courtney, who favours one point of contact who will cascade all the decisions concerning a group’s stores accordingly.

"Bestway is one of the lowest-cost operators in the market, and we can deliver lifetime cost benefit to retailers versus their current supplier," he says.