Subscribe now to Forecourt Trader Magazine
  • Forecourt Trader
Shop Doctor: In the surgery this month MFG Grab & Go, Barton Mills
11 January, 2019

Location:

On the ultra-busy Fiveways Roundabout on the A11 near Bury St Edmunds

The pole sign is a busy one with the Esso logo on top then Hursts Grab & Go, Subway, the fuel prices, Synergy, Costa and Stone Willy's Kitchen.

There is a lot of advertising around the dispensers for Esso Synergy fuel. At the time of my visit, fuel was cheaper than at the adjacent Shell site and there was a poster saying 'Save up to 4p off per litre of fuel', run in conjunction with the East Anglian Daily Times.

HGV pumps are a welcome addition for all the heavy traffic on the A11.

There are boards advertising Stone Willy's Kitchen, inviting customers to 'Grab a pizza the action' and get a fresh pizza that's ready to eat in just two minutes.

Shop:

The shop is light, bright and has lots of space great for people wanting to browse and stretch their legs.

There is a lot of point-of-sale advising customers that they can collect Tesco Clubcard points on both food and fuel at the site.

The shop itself has a limited range of grocery essentials but offers lots in the way of 'grab & go'. It has both a Subway and a Stone Willy's Kitchen. There was a very good display of Stone Willy's products in the cabinet and advertising for a Meal Deal offer of Poppin' Chicken & Fries for just £3.99. There was a good chilled lunch range too.

There are three Costa Express machines with slim units containing pastries and doughnuts placed between them. Then there's a microwave and a hot water dispenser for porridge and noodles.

It was good to see fresh fruit on display single apples, oranges and bananas.

An excellent seating area is kept clean and tidy, and differentiated from the rest of the store by different flooring.

Elsewhere in the shop there were offers dotted about, typically along the lines of 'any 2 for a price'. Other pos promotes the 'fiendishly simple' Esso app.

There is a good end display of miscellaneous items the sort of things you might need as a one-off, such as balloons and birthday cake candles, or things you might suddenly need like plasters or a baby's dummy.

The Drink Store! off licence section offers 'Great deals on drinks'. And there is a comprehensive car care section.

There are very nice toilets, that are well maintained via a routine checklist that was on display and well filled in.

Prognosis:

A serious fire gutted the shop on this site back in 2017, forcing its closure. It was redeveloped and re-opened in May last year and is particularly noteworthy as it was MRH's last development following its acquisition by MFG.

The redevelopment needed to be good as the site is on the busy Fiveways roundabout and faces tough competition from a Shell site on the opposite side of the roundabout, which has a Little Waitrose and a McDonalds with drive-thru. Then there's a Rontec site just down the road.

Diagnosis:

The site ticks all the boxes given its location. It caters for drivers who want to fill up their cars or trucks and themselves. The layout of the shop makes it very easy to see everything that's available. The convenience range is limited but has just the right sort of items.

Prescription:

Given its location and therefore purpose, this is an excellent site. The ATM offered free balances but not free withdrawals, and it always seems an insult to be charged to get at your own money.

My only other concern was some of the prices. For instance there were 200g bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk on display at £3.25. I thought this was a sky-high price and it was. B&M are selling these bars for £1.49 and Tesco for £2. Now I don't expect a forecourt store to match those prices but the Hursts' mark-up seemed a bit excessive.


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