Independent retailer Susie Hawkins has opened her first Spar forecourt store in the village of Highworth near Swindon.

Susie, who is the director of the family-owned Simon Smith Group, operates six other Budgens-branded forecourt stores in and around Gloucestershire.

The former 700 sq ft store and car dealership was knocked down and re-opened as a brand new 2,800sq ft site - with a focus on quality local goods and food to go - late last month.

Fresh foods already account for 35% of total sales - with 5% accounted for by local meats in the first week alone.

In addition to nearly 200 speciality lines from Blakemore Fine Foods, Highworth Service Station stocks a wide range of locally-sourced meat from Andrews Quality Meats and The Cotswold Farmer, plus fresh bread and pastries from family-run bakery La Parisienne Bakery & Patisserie.

The store also boasts vinegars and oils on tap, a Cook frozen food concession and a range of frozen morning goods for local people to heat and eat at home.

A new sports nutrition range is also already proving popular with members of the local football club, while at the rear of the store a striking food to go counter offers freshly-made sandwiches, baguettes, and milkshakes.

The store also features an innovative automated tobacco gantry from Navarra Retail Systems. The gantry is fully dark market compliant and allows staff to serve tobacco customers at the touch of a button.

Energy-saving doors have already been added to all of the store’s BWS and soft drinks chillers and will be retrofitted onto its fresh and local food chillers in a few weeks, once shoppers are fully aware of the store’s unique range.

“We are incredibly proud of this new site and have really high hopes for it,” Susie told Convenience Store.

“We have a long history of working with Budgens so joining the Spar brand was a big change for us but commercially we just couldn’t say no to the offer from Spar. The support and the encouragement to take on locally produced goods was so strong and what we have created is much more of a community store and less of a corporate site,” she added.

Blakemore Trade Partners managing director Jerry Marwood added: “Highworth Service Station is another example of how we work with independent retailers to create unique stand-out stores with the flexibility to meet the specific needs of the local community.”