Insights of shoppers, “Roadside retailing is changing fast. It is no longer possible to rely on fuel sales and a limited impulse offering – customers expect much more! – Better Retailing UK. An asset you can invest in for above average returns – Costas Souris Quality Group
“To thrive, retailers need to use shopper insights and tailor an in-store offering that meets the changing needs of the modern consumer. The modern roadside retailer needs to offer a broad range of products, including fresh produce, covering a variety of meal occasions.
“In short, the roadside retailer of the future should aim not to be a fuel retailer with a grocery offering, but a full-service grocery retailer with a fuel and state-of-the-art rapid electric charging point offering.
The move towards modern state of the art roadside retail infrastructure is a key area of expertise of the Godwin Group commercial division.
Established in 2003, and headquartered in Birmingham, the Godwin Group has offices in Nottingham and central London and employs over 40 property professionals supported by a high-calibre Property Advisory Board.
Godwin’s commercial division develops and delivers projects for leading brands such as Lidl, McDonald’s, Burger King, Euro Garages, Greggs, Starbucks and Costa Coffee. At the same time the team works closely with electric vehicle charging providers, helping power the UK’s low carbon future.
The UK’s retail industry is currently experiencing a revolutionary transformation in order to adapt to the ever-evolving needs and lifestyles of its 66.7 million customers. The British have long been described as a nation of shopkeepers so it should come as no surprise that the retail industry is the UKs third biggest sector generating over £394 billion in 2019.
For many people though, when you mention retail, their first thought is the local high street. Others will talk about online shopping which has seen huge uptake given changing consumer behaviours, technology, and economic conditions. Rarely will they discuss roadside retail, an industry that encapsulates service stations, drive-through restaurants, and trade parks amongst others. Yet it is quietly generating huge profits for many of the UK’s biggest consumer brands, who are utilising it in order to tap into local communities and the relatively unexploited motorist consumer market.
“On the Go Nation”
The reason for its success is modernity. The UKs changing demographics and busy lifestyles prioritise convenience and this is what roadside retail epitomises. Combined with a multibillion-pound government investment in the road network and you have a clear recipe for industry success. Transportation is the life blood of every country, and the UK is clearly an “on the go” nation. According to the Department for Transport (DfT) 356.5 billion vehicle miles were driven on Great Britain’s roads in 2019, an increase of 2% compared to the previous year. As a result of population increases and reductions in vehicle running costs, the DfT forecasts that traffic levels will rise by between 17% and 51%, meaning a huge projected increase in mobile consumers.
Roadside Retail is “tried and tested.”
It is also important to remember that despite the hype surrounding e-commerce, “bricks and mortar” outlets still receive the lion’s share of consumer spending according to the ONS. In fact, a survey by digital marketing agency, Marketingsignals.com found that 85% of UK consumers prefer to shop in-store despite the convenience offered by online shopping. Clearly roadside retail’s strength is its ability to deliver the accessibility, convenience and in-store shopping experiences that time poor consumers crave. With the high street floundering, expect to see retailers, service providers and advertisers increasingly making the move to a roadside format.
Global Brands going Roadside Retail
Already there are a number of food and drinks retailers operating across the UK’s road network such as McDonalds, Greggs, Lidl, Subway and Starbucks. Greggs the bakery chain for example trialled its first motorway service area franchise in 2012 in order to increase their presence and market share. Its then Chief executive Ken McMeikan stated that the move was a “fantastic opportunity” to make Greggs “even more accessible to more people, by opening shops where people are on the move, at work and spend leisure time.” Evidently the strategy worked as there are now currently 67 Greggs stores across the motorway network.
Another is McDonald’s, as the original roadside restaurant, which first opened near Route 66 in 1948. It was not until 1974 that it first opened in the UK and now has over 1,350 restaurants including 924 drive thrus. The company has stated it has a significant advantage over other convenience food retailers because “nearly 65% of our global restaurants have a drive-thru” and that as part of its new growth strategy “the vast majority of new restaurants in the U.S. and International Operated Markets will include a drive-thru.” Already the company can be found in 29 motorway locations and across numerous A-Road services. The drive-thru model has now been adopted by service providers such as Metro Bank, as it clearly fits in well with its stated aim to provide customers with “unparalleled service and convenience”.
EVs & Hydrogen Fuel
Roadside retail will further benefit from the move to electric vehicles (EV). The government is committed to ensuring almost every car and van in the UK will emit zero emissions by 2050. There are also more than 30,000 charge points across the UK in over 11,000 locations. However, to cater for the forecasted growth in EV uptake, the UK will need approximately six times as many charging points by the end of the decade. Currently the National Grid estimates that the UK stock of EVs could reach between 2.7 and 10.6 million by 2030 and could rise as high as 36 million by 2040. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point.
Most people will not fully recharge an electric vehicle but will top up just enough to make the trip home or to the next stopover. That being said charging still leaves enough time for leisure and shopping. Already the industry is responding. The first EV-focused service station is being constructed in Braintree, Essex that will charge 30 cars at once and will be the first of 100 so called “electric forecourts”.
Owners GRIDSERVE promise it will deliver a “fully loaded customer experience, offering the best of British retail and customer service to cater for a full range of consumer and driver needs.”
A profitable Silk Road
Clearly roadside retail is in an extremely strong position. Changing lifestyles, transportation and country living is providing optimism and strength for its future. It provides a tried and tested formula for success that many fast food and petrol forecourt industries have benefited from for years. Not only are out of town retail parks and drive-thrus continuing to see growth but it can be expected that service stations will become a haven for destination shoppers. While this is not great news for the high street, the retailers operating within it at least have the chance to adapt, safeguard jobs, and enjoy the benefits that roadside retail has to offer.
For Investors in Fixed Income by Private Lending
The Godwin Group partners with Non-Bank lenders which enables it to secure opportunities and progress projects at pace. The non-bank funding enables early phase development, and the cost of such funding is included in the purchase price paid by future partners and global brands that Godwin delivers bespoke turnkey solutions to.
Investors in fixed income by private lending benefit from above average returns with income or deferred income options