Forecourt Trader
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Winning ways
Published:  11 January, 2019

Up to 4 MLPA

Rubesh Navaratnam

Rontec Bilston, Stow Heath, West Midlands

Rontec Bilston was one of the original Morrisons Daily trial stores, opening in December 2016. That's when commission operator Rubesh Navaratnam took over the site and began to weave his magic. The site earned its place as a finalist in the 2017 awards, but Rubesh continued pushing the business along as sales grew to around £30,000 a week. In last year's awards the site went one better, winning the regional category (up to 4mlpa) overall. Rubesh was overwhelmed.

"I was so proud it was such a prestigious award, and it means so much to me and my team. I would like to say a big thank you to all my colleagues, they always put in a great deal of hard work."

Rubesh said the team effort is so important in running the business. Staff are kept motivated by a monthly Customer Service Champion award, which takes into consideration feedback from customers, the area manager and Rubesh himself.

Key areas of success in the store have been the food-to-go area and bakery which are well frequented by students from the local college. Rontec has worked extremely closely with Morrisons on the range of its chilled, ambient and promotional lines to ensure that products and price points fit within the local demographic.

On the forecourt a refurbished car wash was installed featuring promotional prices to help drive footfall onto the site.

4 MLPA plus

Jonathan & Nick Fraser

Fraser's Budgens of Yarnton, Oxfordshire

Fraser's Retail Ltd has a long heritage of success at the Forecourt Trader Awards, with Robert and Hugh Fraser having won the overall title three times between them. There have been many other successes and now Hugh's son Jonathan and Robert's son Nick are following in their footsteps, continuing to build a fantastic business.

The Yarnton site opened in 2010 following a knock-down-rebuild and features a 2,950sq ft Budgens store, with a Subway and Post Office. The modern forecourt includes eight pumps, a car wash and two jet washes with ample on-site parking.

A refurbishment in 2017 added 5m to an already extensive chilled range, an extra coffee machine, increased food-to-go, two more Cook freezers and bringing Laithwaites wines into the store, as well as a bespoke vape unit. The Post Office was moved into the counter area, using the space for a new bakery. The store also has its own loyalty card, giving money off and instant discounts on fuel and services.

The Frasers say the refit has brought a new lease of life to this already extremely busy and effective store, keeping it ahead of the competition with ever-increasing standards, a strong offer, excellent facilities and great customer service. The store really showcases the best in class while keeping its core value as being at the heart of the community.

Up to 4 MLPA

Christian Jones

Spar Threshfield, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Spar Threshfield forecourt and convenience store opened in August 2017, after an absence of any store on this rural site for over two years. It met with overnight approval from the local community thanks to its welcoming and well-maintained forecourt in front of an attractive stone-built store, in keeping with the local area.

The store has been especially welcomed by older members of the community who struggle to get to the nearest town (nine miles away).

Customers are welcomed by friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff who are all drawn from the local community, trained on site and able to advise customers, not only about the produce and promotions, but also about the local area and events.

They are always ready to go the extra mile by packing shopping, ensuring queueing is minimised by opening up additional tills and carrying shopping, if necessary.

Fresh and local produce are a big part of the store's offering and Spar Threshfield is especially proud of its partnership with Andrew Weatherhead, a well-known and respected butcher who has been serving the local community for five generations since 1876. The joint venture means they can offer the butcher's award-winning black pudding, pies and sausages made from local meat.

4 MLPA plus

Nick Baker

Jet Abbeyside, Selby, North Yorkshire

The pedigree of this award-winning site was underlined by the fact that it was snapped up along with Nick Baker's other three sites by Phillips 66 back in October.

Jet Abbeyside is described as an 'all-singing, all-dancing 24/7, double storey, 2,000sq ft Jet and Spar dual-branded convenience destination designed to cater for today's time-poor consumers'.

It impressed the judges with its wide variety of products and services which cater for a diverse customer base including local tradesmen, residents on the nearby housing estate, customers and staff from the adjacent retail park and students from the local college.

The store boasts a Subway and sales have rocketed thanks to a strategy of actively encouraging customers to eat their subs in the café area upstairs.

This upstairs area is home to Nick's Cheeky Café where customers can have coffee and snacks. Pre-ordering is available for items from both Subway and the Cheeky Café, and this service is popular with local businesses and clubs.

Other features of the busy site include three state-of-the-art Istobal jet wash bays, one of which features a raised platform for over-sized vehicles; a coin-operated, self-service outdoor launderette, which is Selby's only launderette; and both Amazon and InPost lockers.

best customer service

Spar Ravenhill Road

Belfast, County Antrim

To ensure customer service is always exceptional, Spar Ravenhill Road uses a company called Customer Perceptions, which carries out a Mystery Shopper visit once a month. Scores average 94%.

A lot of hard work has gone into improving the staff's service and interaction skills to make the whole customer experience the best it can possibly be. Training included one-to-one conversations and coaching sessions on the shop floor.

A new concept which was introduced to improve the customer experience was the 'Tell us first' app. This allows customers to give immediate feedback and get a response from the store manager within 24 hours.

The site has also employed someone specifically to look after the forecourt area. Their job involves ensuring bins are emptied, that gloves and towels are available, pumps are always clean and that all flowers and plants are taken care of.

A carry-to-car service is available for household coal and heating oil.

best design and development

Applegreen Spaldwick

Spaldwick, Cambridgeshire

Applegreen Spaldwick was built with both innovation and customer satisfaction in mind, and a desire to develop a pioneering service area for the modern UK 'transumer'.

The forecourt is easy to enter and access both from the A14 and Spaldwick itself. It offers abundant parking with 44 spaces.

The aim of the internal layout is to provide simple options for customers, whether they are a busy commuter wanting to grab a quick takeaway coffee and pay for their fuel, or someone who wants to relax in comfortable surroundings.

The seating area accompanying the food area offers a café-style environment with panoramic windows that allow natural light to flood in. An added feature of the forecourt is an outdoor terrace for those on a long commute or wanting to eat al fresco during the warmer months. Adjacent to the outside dining area is an innovative all-weather children's play area that includes state-of-the-art slides, tunnels and climbing frames.

best food-to-go outlet

Mulkerns Eurospar

Newry, County Down

Identifying customers' needs for convenient, quick and easy meal solutions has been key to sales success at Mulkerns Eurospar. Indeed food-to-go has been a driving force, growing at more than 50% year-on-year.

Hot food is available seven days a week across breakfast and lunch occasions. In addition there is an evening meal solution called the Supper Club, available from 4.30pm- 6.30pm daily.

Aimed primarily at the commuter looking for a quick and easy evening meal solution it's been a tremendous success.

There is also a traditional carvery service every Sunday offering roast beef, turkey breast, lamb, chicken and salmon with all the trimmings all for just £5.95. Over 500 of these dinners are sold every Sunday .

A traditional deli/sandwich bar operates seven days a week where sandwiches, wraps and salads are made to customers' requirements.

All new foodservice additions are supported in-store by sampling.