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Hockenhull Garages Crowned Forecourt Trader Of The Year

For the second time in less than six months, one of A.F. Blakemore’s independent retailers has scooped the top prize at an industry awards event.

SPAR forecourt site The Stage, which is owned by Hockenhull Garages, was crowned the overall winner at the Forecourt Trader Awards in January just four months after SPAR retailer Conrad Davies scooped the top title for his Y Maes store in Pwllheli at the Convenience Awards.

The Stage, based in Wigston, Leicester, was crowned Forecourt Trader of the Year after beating off competition from some of the finest forecourts in the UK’s petrol retailing industry.

The site’s development story started back in 2018 when Peter Hockenhull, chairman of Hockenhull Garages, drove past and saw the potential in a decommissioned petrol station site that was a bit of an eyesore.

After a delay in construction caused by the coronavirus pandemic, an amazing development emerged in 2020 featuring a spacious modern forecourt under a stunning and distinctive oval canopy.

Forecourt Trader editor Merril Boulton commented: “With its huge pear-shaped, solar panel-covered canopy, spacious forecourt and 300sq m building – encompassing a SPAR convenience store, Insomnia barista coffee bar, seating area and ’healthy’ all-day food offer from Irish brand Freshly Chopped – as well as its many ‘green’ attributes, The Stage promises to stand out among today’s modern forecourt developments.”

“Built during a pandemic, this circa £2m project in Wigston is now taking ‘centre stage’ in the community.”

“As we move through the pandemic, never has Peter Hockenhull’s vision of this site becoming a destination – the place to meet up with friends and sit in pleasant surroundings – been more relevant. It’s a fantastic development and a very worthy winner.”

The Forecourt Trader Awards also saw David Charman’s SPAR Parkfoot Garage in West Malling, Kent, scoop the Best Forecourt Innovation prize.

When lockdown happened last year, Parkfoot Garage operated a free order and delivery system for the elderly and vulnerable in the community, plus a contact-free order and collect service for all customers, reducing the need for people to enter the shop.

These services proved so popular that SPAR Parkfoot continued to develop them, realising that the local community was changing its shopping practices in the long term towards click and collect and home delivery.

Its online shop opened on 1st September offering customers a more personalised and unique delivery service featuring 3,000 of the 4,000 lines in-store, with customers able to ring through orders if they don’t have access to a computer.

The Forecourt Trader Awards, held virtually, were presented by celebrity TV presenter, magician, writer and actor Stephen Mulhern.

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