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Solid gold sites
13 January, 2020

Our review of the Forecourt Trader of the Year 2019 awards continues with the regional winners from the Midlands and the North, plus three more specialist category champions


Up to 4 MLPA Spar Newark Newark, Nottingham

Spar Newark is a great-looking forecourt with its dual Spar and Jet branding. The spacious convenience store has been recently refurbished in order to give customers the "perfect shopping experience", according to site manager Gemma Lathan, pictured below with her delighted colleagues. "The offer includes a wide range of groceries, fresh food and dairy products, food to go from our extended range of snacking products and also our 'freshly made in store' daily deli department," she explains. "And if that
doesn't grab your tastebuds, then we also have a great Subway franchise with a large seating area to
enjoy. Our store is not only the heart of our community, but also in a great location just off the A46. We provide only the best customer experiences with our great team of staff who have pride and passion for what we deliver."
Spar Newark aims to provide great deals, award- winning food and drink and convenient in-store services including Costa Coffee; hot food; off licence; store cupboard essentials; free ATM; Collect +; wi-fi; customer toilets; and car wash. High standards of operation also impressed the judges. "To be a winner in 2019 proves to our team and customers that what we do daily is recognised
and we are the best at what we do," says Gemma


More than 4MLPA MFG Barton Mills Barton Mills, Suffolk

Having recovered from the traumatic experience of a devastating fire in April 2017 which completely
destroyed the existing building, the new Archimedes design of MFG Barton Mills quite literally rose from the ashes, re-opening in the summer of 2018. Featuring a bespoke purple and grey block brickwork design, the building features a range of innovative design features from the sloped glazing at the front of the
building to the suspended ceiling, as well as many energy-saving devices.
The focus is very much on food-for-now for business, family, tourist, HGV and van drivers, and targeting morning and lunchtime with its Subway, Stone Willy's, Grab & Go and Costa Express offers, as well as a compact convenience range. It's also very much a roadside services offer with facilities like washrooms, seating with charging points; and significant parking (20 spaces), meaning motorists have the confidence to stop, knowing they can stay for half an hour.
But crucially, the standard of operation has always been second to none. Commission operator Phil Withers who ran the site for 15 years until moving on to pastures new in December said he was incredibly proud to receive the award against stiff competition: "It's recognition of a great team effort over many years."


Up to 4 MLPA Spar Warton Warton, Lancashire

Spar Warton opened in March 2018 and was a finalist in Forecourt Trader of the Year 2018 but missed out to Spar Threshfield. However, Spar Warton manager Chris Gregory was delighted to win in 2019.
Last year was very good for the site with fuel volumes up to nearly 100k litres a week and shop sales up by 30%.
The site, which is open from 5.30am to 11pm, seven days a week, is opposite the BAE Systems plant on the historic Warton Aerodrome, on the main road into Lytham. Chris says they have a great relationship with staff at BAE Systems, many of whom pile into the store every day to buy their lunch.
The BAE staff have also helped boost fuel volume but Chris says so has the fact that their nearest fuel competitor is some three miles away.
In-store they have a butcher's counter as well as a Clayton Park Deli counter and Chris reports that both are trading really well. "Food to go is doing well," he says. Elsewhere in the store, the fresh produce, laid out market style, is very impressive as is the range of products for 'tonight's tea'.
Chris says they were 'over the moon' to have won the Forecourt Trader award and that it has been a big boost to staff morale.
"We keep the award behind the counter so everyone can see it."


More than 4MLPA Stevenson Forecourt Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland

Stevenson Forecourt is a family business that has been operating in the forecourt industry for 40 years. Stevenson's managing director, John Stevenson, says the company follows Forecourt Trader closely so to win this award was particularly pleasing. "This award is for what we do, day in, day out, so it's great to be acknowledged for our standards. It's also good for staff morale and to show staff why we do what we do."
This new-to-industry site opened in 2018. The development cost £1.2m and features reclaimed brick, curtain wall glazing, a contemporary curved canopy and 29kw of solar panels on the roof, consisting of 114 panels.
The store has bespoke contemporary lighting and a state-of-the-art refrigeration system where all the refrigeration/freezers and air con are run off one small unit. The store also features a galvanised industrial ceiling from Belgium.
Storyboards around the shop illustrate the company's history.
There is a Subway with seating area, an amenity which John says has been welcomed by the local community in such a small market town.
There is also a Gin Shop concept.
John reports that 2019 was a successful year trade-wise with fuel volumes much better than anticipated.


best customer service Tout's Budgens of Langford Langford, near Bristol

With customer service at the core of most businesses nowadays, Tout's Budgens of Langford knew it needed to take it one step further. Its vision was therefore to provide the 'absolute best customer experience in the UK'.
The company spent a lot of time researching and investigating the level of customer service and processes at its competitor stores, then put together a bespoke framework for shopfloor and cashier interaction. It's called the SAT-Nav framework, where SAT stands for Smile, Ask and Thank. This is the bare minimal interaction Tout's team members are required to have with their customers. This process allows the teams to take the customer on a journey ('Nav') and through an experience, which aims to make their visit enjoyable and ensure they leave happier than when they came into the store.
To ensure SAT-Nav is being used at all levels, Tout's introduced a raffle ticket reward scheme where staff nominate colleagues who have the chance to win £50 every month.


best design and development Applegreen Spalding Spalding, Lincolnshire

Following Applegreen's Spaldwick site's win of the Best Design and Development Award in 2018, the Spalding site took the honour in 2019. Applegreen says Spalding was built with innovation and customer service in mind, keeping an eye on modern convention and a desire to show a pioneering service area for the modern UK 'transumer'.
For Applegreen, the canopy is one of the most important communication elements along with the pole sign and shop fascia. The company has developed a new-look canopy construction with aluminium at its core. The text on the canopy is illuminated using GE LEDs to ensure a warm and inviting glow.
Meanwhile, the aim of the internal shop layout is to provide simple options for customers, whether it's a busy commuter wanting to pay for their fuel and grab a quick coffee, or for the customer who may want to relax in comfortable surroundings. There's a Costa, Greggs and Subway, with a seating area with wide panoramic windows.


best food-to-go outlet RaceTrack Autoport Services Glasgow

There's typically only one response when people see RaceTrack Autoport Services' Tubbees Dessert Bar, and that's "wow". That's because Autoport's unique range of desserts has been designed to give customers a real treat. The Bar specialises in waffles, crepes and cakes and also serves Nitrogen ice cream. This is a special way of making ice cream live in front of the customer, turning cream and flavours into ice cream in seconds.
The site is also big on slush drinks and has 60 different flavours for customers to choose from, with many choosing to have more than one flavour at a time. The row upon row of bright and colourful slush dispensers are really eye-catching and a big hit with children.
More typical food-to-go is offered in the main store under the RaceTrack brand. Products include hot pasties, hot dogs, quick noodles and microwavable meals.
There is also a Rollover hot dog offer, which includes Halal and vegetarian options.


Has the Government's shock announcement to bring forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles - as well as hybrids - to 2035 or even earlier caused concern and disruption to your future forecourt development plans?