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Shop Doctor: In the surgery this month - Gulf Waylands Watton, Norfolk
12 November, 2018

Location:

On the Thetford Road on the way in/out of Watton.

Forecourt: The site is easy to locate thanks to its pole sign with the distinctive orange and blue Gulf logo. There is pos at the pumps highlighting that Gulf's premium fuel Endurance is available. There are also signs promoting MOTs for £45 at the adjoining workshop.

The layout of the forecourt is good, allowing for quick and easy access with plenty of room to move around.

There's plenty of parking, although there was a car for sale in one of the parking spaces.

Advertising signs covered the bollards outside the shop, including one saying 'Welcome to Londis'.

Shop:

You can see that the décor has been designed to give the shop a local/village feel. There is wood-effect flooring and brick/tile-effect panelling on the walls. Lighting has been set into the ceiling but it was a bit dark in places in the store.

Overall the shop presents a good range of convenience lines. In the chillers there was quite a good selection of meal solutions such as ready meals and pizzas. However, the food-to-go range in the chiller was pretty grim, comprising just a few rolls and sandwiches. There is a Swan Bakery display up by the till but big gaps where the all-butter croissants, Danish pastries and pain au chocolat should have been. A sign highlighted an offer where you could have a large Tchibo hot drink and one of these 'missing' pastries for £2.80.

The Stone Willy's hot display unit did not have a lot in it.

There were quite a few gaps on shelves around the store.

In the impulse ice cream freezer it looked like someone had opened the lid and just thrown dozens of ice creams inside.

There were quite a lot of freestanding cardboard display units, which I thought made the shop seem a little cluttered in places. There was also a random box of juice drinks on the floor outside the juice chiller.

On the plus side there is a good car care section as well as a decent US candy display and protein snacks department. There were stacks of beer at good prices. Own-brand is evident across the shop including a dedicated bay of EuroShopper lines.

Unfortunately, on the day of my visit, the freezers had broken. There was a sign up saying the stock was defrosted and was therefore available at half-price.

I asked if they had a customer toilet and the shop assistant looked for the key. It turns out that the toilets are outside, past the adjoining service centre. The toilets were being painted but the two painters inside did allow me to use the facilities.

Staff were very helpful but quite slow to react to a queue that was forming.

Prognosis:

Petrocell acquired this site in late 2016. It closed for three months while it was redeveloped. Changes included new pumps and tanks, a better forecourt layout and a partnership with Londis for the shop. The redevelopment seems to have paid off with the firm reporting increased shop sales and fuel volumes.

Diagnosis:

People today are demanding one-stop-shops for their fuel, convenience items, lottery and food-to-go needs. Petrocell's investment in this site aimed to deliver all this.

Prescription:

The age-old advice of walking your store as if you were a customer is needed at Gulf Waylands. There are questions to answer ie why are bits of the store dark? Why are there gaps on the shelves? And is there too much clutter? Problems occur such as freezers breaking down but need to be managed. Signage in this store did this, but I was concerned that they were still selling melted ice cream.

As for the toilets, it's a shame they are separate to the store but that can't be helped. However, from what I saw they need a lot more work on them than a lick of paint. I would suggest gutting the space and starting again.


FORECOURT

Air/water
Calor gas
Car wash
Electric charging
Gulf Endurance
Gulf fuels
Jet wash
Parking
Toilet
SHOP
Atm (free to use)
Car care
Chilled foods
Cigarettes & tobacco
Confectionery
Food to go
Fruit & veg
Londis own brand
Lottery
Protein snacks
Rollover hot dogs
Snacks
Soft drinks
Stone Willy's
Tchibo coffee


As the Government is urged to publish its plans for E10 by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Bioethanol, would you welcome the introduction of E10 as the right next step in cutting automotive carbon emissions?