Powering up

Jet forecourt

The UK’s network of forecourt stores is offering an increasingly innovative and environmentally focused mix of products and services, says the latest ACS Forecourt Report.

By Gaelle Walker

With the essential products and services that they offer, the UK’s 7,395 forecourt shops have always performed a vital function within the communities that they operate.

However, that role has certainly been elevated in recent months, with the pandemic boosting both footfall and shopper expectations.

That shift is prompting forecourt sites across the country to innovate with new services such as Post Offices and food-to-go, as well as investing in alternative power options for vehicles and diversify their range of products.

In fact, in 2021 alone, independent forecourt retailers invested more than £16,000 per store according to the most recent ACS Forecourt Report.

The same is true for company-owned stores and Jet Retail demonstrated this with the recent renovation of its flagship site close to the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery in South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire.

The £3m project, JET’s biggest site transformation to date, included the installation of brand-new HGV and retail forecourt facilities including pumps and a cutting-edge Spar-branded store with a host of food-to-go options including Seattle’s Best Coffee, Rollover Hot Dogs and the Spar Daily Deli concept.

And, with the government having recently set out plans for a 10-fold increase in electric car chargers by 2030, a great number of forecourt retailers and operators have also been investing in alternative power options.

Independent forecourt operator Motor Fuel Group (MFG) recently announced an Electric Vehicle (EV) partnership deal at Great Western Retail Park in Glasgow.

The park is 270,000sq ft and hosts B&Q, Sainsbury’s, Currys and numerous other premium tenants.

The new EV hub featuring eight 150kW ultra-rapid chargers and all-weather canopy is expected to open in Q3 this year.

The chargers will offer motorists 100 miles range in approximately 10 minutes, subject to the charging capability of individual car batteries.

MFG Chief Executive Officer William Bannister said: “This is another exciting development in our drive to build the UK’s best network of ultra-rapid EV hubs across the country.

“We have already invested significantly and ahead of the curve on EV charging across our own forecourt network as part of our dual-fuel strategy to support the UK’s transition to electric motoring.

“We are working with leading real estate owners and managers to provide best-in-class destinations to meet the inevitable demand for easy access EV charging from the motorist in high traffic retail locations.”

April also saw the launch of a new state-of-the-art Compact Electric Forecourt in Norwich by electric charging network Gridserve.

The facility delivers the latest charging technology, supplied by 100% renewable energy, and more than doubles the region’s number of high-powered chargers.

The site also functions as an EV experience destination, where visitors without electric cars can find out more about them, whilst enjoying well-known brands including Costa Coffee, M&S Food, and WHSmith, along with super-fast WIFI and bookable meeting pods.

Christie & Co to explore future of filling stations

Specialist business property adviser Christie & Co is to lead a new three-part online course on Petrol Filling Stations – Now and the Future.

Hosted by key industry experts, the course will bring attendees up to speed on current market activity and investigate future challenges and opportunities for forecourt owners and stakeholders as we head towards the ‘Road to Zero’ and the government ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

The course will explore what is driving the market for petrol filling stations and why there is so much interest in site development and acquisition in the face of apparent growing sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuelled vehicles (AFVs).

Session one will take place on 18 May, with subsequent sessions on 25 and 27 May.