Manor Service Stations is providing a business model for innovative progression and flexible development in diversifying service station satisfaction beyond simply fuel prices
At Your Service
Project Manager:Josh Hyland
Established in 1985, Manor Service Stations has retained a family run feel throughout its great success. The Company, with its pragmatic approach to the operation, management and retail structure of service stations in the UK, has successfully risen from small start-up status to being one of the most renowned Groups in the local market. The business was founded by Peter Brough; who with the help of his son Joe has taken the Company from a small start-up to a well renowned Group within the market.
Founded by Peter Brough, Manor Service Stations currently operates across 12 service stations in the UK, 10 of which it owns itself and two of which are leased from Manchester Airport Group.
Peter’s son, and Sales Director, Joe Brough says: “I joined the Company in 1999, and at that stage we had some sites that we owned ourselves and some which were leased off oil companies who didn’t particularly like to run them themselves at that stage. Things began to change about 15 years ago though, when more of these oil companies began selling their sites to independent companies such as ourselves.”
Although the majority of the Company’s growth and focus has been based in the northwest of England since the inception of this trend, opportunities have presented themselves this year slightly further afield, which Manor Service Stations has willingly taken on.
Brough comments: “We’ve just bought a site in North Wales, which actually fits in as we have a couple of sites in North Wales already. We’ve had a site swap with BP, with a site down in Stoke-on-Trent which we have taken over. So yeah, northwest England, the north Midlands and North Wales, we’ll look in those areas really. At the minute our 12 sites keep us nice and busy.”
With the Company’s sales up by 18 percent year-on-year, this upward trajectory is certainly welcomed by the Company, but in such a volatile market, the ability to remain flexible and adaptable is imperative.
“While the price of fuel is fluctuating - and I don’t believe that’s ever going to change - we can never get too excited and alternatively stressed by how we are doing in the fuel business,” adds Brough.
To counter these challenges, the Company has utilised its extensive knowledge and market research to initiate investments across its retail installations over the years; giving consumers a safe haven and positive experience away from the reliance on fuel prices.
Investments into innovative solutions have subsequently become a key facet in the progression of a Company such as Manor Service Stations; so when it comes to selecting new projects, the decision must have solid foundations.
“It really is a question of picking and choosing the good ones [sites], and of course everyone in the industry is after the good ones which begins to complicate the process. Unless a Company is willing to pay well over the asking price, which we are not prepared to do, their chances are drastically lessened.
We’re not going to pay massively over the odds just to get our hands on something that isn’t guaranteed to work though,” continues Brough.
Manor Service Stations therefore focuses its energies on investing in sites where the location is correct to enable expansion; for example the Company’s most recent project in Warrington, where it has built an additional Starbucks drive-through on the forecourt.
Such foresight and strategy derives from experience and market understanding, as Brough emphasises:“We do have experience and that does give you maybe a little bit of an advantage over new entrants in the market; however, at the same time the competition keeps developing too with new entrants coming in and getting a foothold in the market, as they obviously want to get their name out there as well,” adds Brough.
With this in mind, it is important to also find a differentiator through the kinds of stores incorporated within the Company’s service stations, and with the addition of the right brands, friendly staff and a good clean inviting atmosphere, Manor Service Stations is leading the way in innovative approaches to investments within the market.
“You know the most important thing is having the right products and the right price and the right atmosphere in a place that’s clean and well lit. It’s like the old American adage of ‘hello, have a nice day’; just being polite and making people feel valued,” mentions Brough.
In order to differentiate itself amongst the Company’s market leaders, Manor Service Stations is working with a specific selection of strategic partners, which not only bring in custom, but also support the brand by bringing expertise in its particular field.
In engaging strategic partners such as Starbucks and Subway, the Company has given itself room for growth and expansion in a market that isn’t offering up sites to expand into easily.
Brough says: “You just don’t know what is going to happen. You look at it and think that chances are we’re not going to be able to get hold of any more sites this year as they’re in such high demand on the market. They can and will go for silly amounts of money and you have to look at it from a business point of view and say, chances are we won’t get one so there is no point in planning for it.”
With this in mind, the Company has to ensure it is striving to find better cost prices for the entirety of its supply chains to increase sales, which Manor Service Stations is currently achieving across the board.
“Alongside our investments, we also have a five-year rolling system in which we can undertake shop refits and make them bigger and more beautiful than they were before,” explains Brough.
Similarly to the majority of forecourt retailers, the continued ability to evolve to any situation within the market is helping to keep Manor Service Stations at the top of its game. Retaining its family run and small-operation feel enables decisions to be made quickly; allowing for quicker progression while evolving with the market to meet customer demands.