Chartman Group re-opens Spar forecourt in Dorset

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Independent Spar operator The Chartman Group has re-opened the village forecourt in Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset, after acquiring the site last year.

The retailer, formed in 1987, owns 10 Spar forecourts in the South West that include convenience stores and one standalone convenience store.

It has planning permission to redevelop the forecourt with a 2,000 sq ft shop, an increase of 1,400 sq ft on the existing unit.

The group also converted a Budgens at Lydford Services to Spar last year and is looking to enhance the food-to-go offer across its estate.

Chartman does not have a set plan to open a specific number of new stores over the next few years but Clive Sheppard, executive director, said it wanted to “enhance” the estate and upgrade existing locations.

“If suitable acquisitions come along that will complement the overall standard of the estate we would be interested but we don’t want to expand at any cost. We want to add quality to the group.”

Clive said the group would not expand beyond the South West where it trades from Bude in the West to Yeovil in the East.

Chartman has got planning permissions in for knockdowns and rebuilds. Three forecourts would be potentially knocked down and rebuilt and it might move ahead with smaller developments on a further two sites.

The company has recently met with Brake Brothers’ Country Choice to discuss how to enhance its food-to-go offer. “We are going to increase the focus on in-store baked sandwiches and rolls and upgrade the imagery,” he said.

“We’ve identified some key areas we are going to work on and that’s already started.”

Range rationalisation across the chain was part of that so it had a consistent offering. Some sites, for example, were ordering food-to-go burgers with 100% beef and others, 90%.

“We were advised the 90% is the better product because it’s a moister product, lasts longer on the unit and maintains its quality for longer so we’ve moved out of stocking the two lines and just stock the one now,” Clive said.

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