Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Shop Doctor: In the surgery this month - Eurospar Hardford Link, Newtownards

Location: On the outskirts of Newtownards

On the same site as the Eurospar, there is an off licence, fish and chip shop and another takeaway, which must bring extra custom to the forecourt.

It's a good size forecourt, well laid out with lots of marked parking bays. A jet wash offers 'buy time' from £2. There is also a massive, lockable Home Heating Fuels bunker.

There is a free-to-use ATM and a notice next to it saying that if it's out of order you can get cashback inside the store.

There is a lot of marketing for the BPme app on bollards outside the shop. The litter bin right outside the shop was full and close to overflowing.

Shop:

This is a big store with all the departments you'd expect in a convenience store and more.

For example, there is a brilliant artisan craft butchers (H&J Carnduff Butchery) and the staff on the counter were extremely helpful. They talked through the range and advised me on what I should buy. Also good was the Patton's Bakery counter, laden with cream cakes.

The Daily Deli looks impressive with its proclamation: 'For breakfast, lunch and all day', however it was closed at the time of my visit at just after 3pm on a weekday.

As already mentioned, it's a big shop but the high shelving in some areas (particularly at the back) made me feel a little bit hemmed in.

There is a very good Meal Inspirations section in the chiller, including an impressive 'Healthier Choices' area.

There were a lot of gaps on shelves around the store and a lot of the items that were on shelves were not faced up correctly. As an example, the magazine rack had gaps (which often can't be helped) but those titles that were on display had been pulled about out of place. In addition, there was a '12 deals of Christmas' stand which was empty.

At the time of my visit, there was a Halloween display at the front of the store. I don't know whether kids had been at it, but it was a real mess.

There was some questionable secondary merchandising such as a clipstrip of Gaviscon next to cakes and a clipstrip of straws next to Christmas chocolates.

Abandoned trolleys full of stock were spotted around the shop as well as one full of packaging waste.

There are a lot of deals across the store and these are well flagged up. Big bold banners from the ceiling state: 'We match 100s of prices to Tesco'.

As I had spent more than £7 in the store, I got a 3ppl petrol coupon, which is always welcome.

As well as the ATM outside, there is a free-to-use one inside.

There is a customer toilet and this was excellent.

Prognosis:

This site has recently been renovated and has nearly doubled in size. As a result, sales have risen by 50-60%.

Diagnosis:

I imagine, at its best, this is a really good store. Its size is something of a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it's good as you can fit a lot in, on the other it does mean it needs close management and more attention to detail.

Prescription:

Perhaps I visited this site on a very busy day. Or perhaps there were staff shortages? Whatever the reason, I was a little disappointed.

The butchers and bakers were great; it was just a shame the Daily Deli was closed.

Gaps on shelves are part of real-life retailing but I thought there were just too many in this shop.

As for those abandoned trolleys, if staff who are putting out stock from a trolley are called away, to say work on the till, they should put that stock to one side.

There was advertising (with photos) for meals from the Daily Deli in the toilet sausages, beans and chips. It might just be me but I didn't think this was quite right. Food and toilets don't really mix. Perhaps they should switch to advertising other items from around the shop?


FORECOURT

Air/Water
Atm (free to use)
Bike Parking
BP Fuel
BP Ultimate
Defibrillator
Flowers
Parking
Vacuum
SHOP
Atm (free to use)
Barista Bar
Car Care
Chilled Foods
Cigarettes & Tobacco
Community Notice Board
Confectionery
Food-To-Go
Flowers
Fruit & Veg
Meal Deal
Seating Area
Snacks
Soft Drinks
Spar Brand
Toilet
Wifi

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 20 May 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East135.9360.77140.55130.16
East Midlands135.28141.26129.82
London135.21142.69130.48
North East134.06140.71129.20
North West134.87139.96129.27
Northern Ireland131.95135.90127.71
Scotland135.09139.31129.71
South East135.9463.57142.34130.70
South West135.01139.53129.65
Wales134.52138.23128.74
West Midlands134.83141.89129.64
Yorkshire & Humber134.1257.70141.27129.10

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