Davidsons Garage in Penrith has become the first forecourt in the north of England to open under the KeyStore More format, supplied by Glasgow wholesaler Filshill.
The store was previously supplied by Filshill as an independent and the refurbishment was the biggest investment the business has made for 10 years, although the lockdown prevented the grand opening event that had been planned originally.
Store manager Joe Stamper said: “Pre-lockdown we were refurbishing the store, having taken the decision to invest last year. We’d settled on a date for the open day then coronavirus came along.”
He continued: “It’s been very much business as usual but with all the social distancing and hygiene confidence measures in place.
“We’re also getting a lot of people coming into the store for the first time and saying how surprised they are that we’re such a good, well-stocked store – that’s been great to see and getting all the positive comments and feedback from customers has given us all a boost.”
The Filshill team worked with Davidsons and the shopfitters to ensure that the design and layout of the new-look store provides the “best possible shopping experience” for customers.
Social distancing and hygiene confidence measures include floor vinyls, information posters and sneeze screens. The number of customers permitted to be in the store at one time is currently limited to four.
More space has been allocated to fresh and chilled, with these categories now at the back of the store, while alcohol has been refreshed by the addition of a range of higher-quality wines. Also new is a Tchibo coffee machine.
Local products include English Lakes Ice Cream, Mr Vikki’s sauces, pickles and chutneys, Cartmel sticky puddings and Cranstons meat.
“It’s a completely different ball game now,” Joe points out. “I’d say we’ve gone from being a garage with a shop to first and foremost a shop with a garage.
“We’ve always been proud of our business but now we feel we want to really shout about it. Sales are up, we’re able to sell the products people want and introduce them to new ones, and we know that investing has been the right thing to do – we’re confident that some of the customers we’ve got to know for the first time during lockdown will stay with us.”