NACS Partner for Europe

Chet Cadieux, CEO at QuikTrip, and Joe Barrett, director at Applegreen

In Retail Vision’s second Meeting of Minds programme, Applegreen director Joe Barrett hosts Chet Cadieux, CEO of Tulsa-based QuikTrip, in Applegreen’s multiple award winning Mount Merrion c-store in Dublin. The video is sponsored by KSS Fuels, TCC and Imperial Tobacco

According to Barrett, one of the biggest issues Applegreen has is in Ireland is the restriction in store size. This contrasts sharply with what he has seen in the United States where lot sizes span three to four acres and offer plenty of parking.

In Ireland, conversely, the retail store is limited to 1,000sq ft but with the opportunity to add on a 500-600sq ft cafe.

“Our sites are much smaller than we would like them to be,” admits Barrett. “If we could double the size we would be thrilled and we would be able to offer better facilities to our customers,” he says.

Barrett explains the restriction on store size is the result of a defensive strategy by retailers many years ago, which has become written into the law.

Cadieux recognises that in this environment Applegreen has to work twice as hard to get everything into the unit and get customers in and out so quickly.

Barrett reveals this is why Applegreen doesn’t offer WiFi at the Mount Merrion store because it would cause people to stay for longer.

On food service, Barrett believes Applegreen is “getting there” but its offer is not as developed as the States where QuikTrip, for example, has its own commissaries making sandwiches and wraps.

“It’s something we might look at,” says Barrett.

Cadieux admits to operating commissaries but believes the Applegreen offer looks much better.

Barrett says Applegreen has a food team at head office which, as well as keeping an eye on margins and checks, spends time developing products.

Applegreen works closely with around half a dozen suppliers who are key partners and challenges them to come up with new ideas.

“We work with them to grow the business together,” he says.

The suppliers do not guarantee outright exclusivity but may give Applegreen exclusivity on a line for a year or so and they ensure the retailer gets the best price.

“We are happy to pay that little bit extra for a new product but when it becomes standard fare we expect to be able to buy it as cheaply as possible,” says Barrett.

A key point of difference to supermarket rivals is the in-store ambience, says Barrett.

“It’s something we work hard on and we are constantly trying to improve on,” he says.

Cadieux reckons some retailers forget they are supposed to be convenient and hospitable.

“It gets lost with some of the other retailers, especially the big box operators,” he says.

Barrett tells Cadieux Applegreen developed its premium aCafe brand to compete with the multiples too.

“Most of our big box competitors are open all the time as well. In the old days we could charge extra for convenient opening times but today we can’t do that,” he says.

“That’s why we have developed our aCafe brand – it’s something the competition hasn’t got.”

While the Mount Merrion site can feature the full product offer, Barrett says the chain also benefits by putting the best sellers into smaller sites

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Insight is European Partner for NACS, the international association for convenience and fuel retail, based in Washington DC.

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