The only way is up
Following a huge investment and years of planning, the old shop has now been bulldozed and replaced with a double-storey state-of-the-art building incorporating a 2,700 ft Nisa store and Subway, with kitchen, offices and storage.
The location, on the main road to and from the A78, is very convenient for people travelling between the Three Towns of Stevenson, Saltcoats and Kilwinning. So, owner, Mahmood has invested heavily to create a store that realises the potential of its location and will stand the test of time.
Location, location, location
With two large supermarkets and another independent nearby, there is a lot of competition, but Mahmood isn’t too concerned about that. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, with a huge variety of products and a fuel deal from JET to match local supermarkets on price, he is confident in the site’s ability to attract new customers.
Mahmood says: “The reason we felt the need to invest so heavily here is undoubtedly the potential in the location. In this day and age, many people around here don’t have the time or the patience to go to the nearby supermarkets. It can take at least a quarter of an hour, if not longer to get one item from there, but here it would only take five minutes. They can jump in and jump out.”
Big investement, yes... but It’s the little touches that count
When it comes to customer service, from opening doors for people to helping them load groceries into their car boot, staff are encouraged to go the extra mile.
Mahmood continues: “These are little touches, but they’re very important, especially for elderly customers,” said Mahmood. They do more shopping here because they know we’ll help them. We want them to be well looked after. Supermarkets don’t always do that.”
The in-store range has tripled, with a massive expansion across chilled drinks, food and frozen. New products on offer include freshly-baked bread from Cuisine de France and Woody’s ice cream, on sale from a dedicated counter.
“In the evening with the right lighting it can even look quite romantic!”
The design of the building left Mahmood with an empty wall on which he saw an opportunity to promote in-store brands, as well as pay tribute to the town of Stevenston, as what really seems to have captured customers’ imaginations are the old photographs displayed on the main wall.
Mahmood takes up the story once more: “The locals are so impressed with what we’ve done,” said Mahmood. “We took old pictures of the town from the local library and people can spend hours in here looking at them, talking about the town. They’ve been calling their friends and family to come and see.”
In the weeks following the opening, sales have been going up all the time.
I miss the old shop...
“I actually miss the old shop because it was so easy to work it. Now everything’s so spread over such a large forecourt operation it means I’m running around all the time, up and down, trying to find things, helping customers and staff alike. Of course the new shop is wonderful and the staff are very happy now. It’s a much better place to work than before.”
“The upstairs office doubles as a stockroom for tobacco, which is dispensed through an automated gantry refilled by yours truly. It’s like a vending machine, designed to go through the tills. You click on the icon and the pack you want drops down. It’s all integrated into the EPOS, so when something’s out of stock, it won’t let you complete the sale”.
Pushing the boundaries
In so many ways, Ardeer Services is all about pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in a forecourt service station and Mahmood is confident about its future, concluding: “I hope this will become an iconic building in the area. People seem to notice it and talk about it. Anyone who drives past will remember it. That’s been the thinking behind a lot of what we’ve done. The old pictures – that was done to get people talking about the site to others. You might never ever hear people talk about their local newsagent or grocer to anyone. But hopefully they will talk about this.”