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Co-op/Shell site, Pavilion Square, Westhoughton, Nr Bolton
01 July, 2005

Last month’s issue of Forecourt Trader featured the Petrol Division of United Co-operatives and reported some very impressive shop developments and results. I resolved to visit a site as soon as possible then remembered that the report mentioned one at Westhoughton near Bolton – I was up that way so popped in. Close to the town centre of Westhoughton and at the Pavilion Shopping Centre is a Co-op Food Market and in its shadow is the forecourt.

Treading water? Careful, don't get in any deeper!
01 July, 2005

Although our database figures for fuel volume and shop sales so far this year are not spectacular, they don’t look too bad at first glance. Bear in mind however that, while nobody is making a big noise about it at the moment, the traditional inflation indicator (RPI) for each month of this year to date is showing inflation at 3.2% above the corresponding month in 2004. In real terms therefore, shop performance can best be described as ‘static’ – in other words while retail in general may be drowning, petrol retailers are at least treading water.

Putting the brakes on those drive-offs
01 July, 2005

Maybe one day fuel will have a built-in ‘activation’ capsule in it, or somesuch, that will only be switched on when the customer actually pays for the stuff. If I knew how to do it I would patent it.

Phoney phone card service
01 July, 2005

Nailesh Gokani, who runs Empire Service Station in North London’s Enfield, has had a bit of a saga with O2 top-ups. Early on May 9 he took £10 from a customer, swiped the card and got the receipt through. Soon afterwards the customer got two text messages saying there was a problem but the credit would be there shortly.

The force is strong
01 July, 2005

It could go either way. Rikki Hunt could soon be putting the finishing touches to his plans for Fuelforce Mark 2. Or he could decide he’s had enough of the industry for now, and pursue the many offers he’s had for non-executive directorships.

New faces
01 July, 2005

Moving from catering to petrol retailing doesn’t sound a logical step, but almost two years ago the Malek family hit the ground running with their first forecourt venture and have turned a busy site in North Devon into an impressive forecourt with 2,200sq ft shop and extensive car washing facilities. The dynamic trio behind Roundswell Filling Station in Barnstaple is Herbert Malek, his son Rob – managing director – and son-in-law Paul Gyurgyak, site director. Their catering business was set up 21 years ago with one Wimpy restaurant, and peaked at six sites in North Devon. They’d had their eye on Roundswell for seven years, after buying the Wimpy restaurant on the same plot.

Get the hang of it
01 July, 2005

Some suppliers are saying sales of sugar confectionery are up slightly and others are saying the market’s flat, but one thing they are all agreed on is that hanging bags are the big sales success story for forecourts. That’s because in cars up and down the country, glove boxes are full of sweets – there to help relieve boredom and aid concentration on tedious journeys.

Competitive edge
01 July, 2005

Most motorists wouldn’t go a year without a service on their car, but many retailers are failing to show the same care and consideration for their business. Instead of protecting their investment and committing to preventative maintenance of vital equipment, retailers – particularly independents – are waiting until something goes wrong before having their assets serviced, according to forecourt service providers.

Crunch time
01 July, 2005

A glance at the latest research into bagged snacks may surprise many forecourt retailers. Mintel’s latest report, Crisps and Snacks, June 2005, shows falling sales of crisps and savoury snacks across all retail outlets. Just three years ago, it says, total sales were £2.4bn but now that has dropped by 6% to just over £2.2bn.

Special edition
01 July, 2005

Forecourts could generate extra revenue from newspaper and magazine sales through the use of battery-powered news vending machines sited next to their pumps.

Following a deal agreed with Harvest Energy, do you think it will be good to see the Total brand returning to UK forecourts?