A family business in Carmarthen, supplied by Shell since 1928, will take the momentous step of changing fuel brands during the first week of the New Year. Proprietors Karen Smith, a direct decedent of the original owners, and her husband Stephen will unveil the distinctive forecourt livery of Gulf as they continue to build for the future at Tanerdy Garage.
In 2010 the couple undertook a major refurbishment of the site, modernising the forecourt, improving layout and facilities and substantially increasing the size of the shop. Turnover of the 1000sqft convenience store has since more than doubled to £1.2m and fuel sales are up from 3.8ml to almost 6ml.
“The switch to Gulf is another positive step forward for the business and our customers,” explains Stephen Smith. “We have never wanted a remote association with our fuel supplier. Placing orders in Manila and feeling like a franchisee is not where we want to be. There is nothing remote about Gulf; deliveries are from a local depot and its personnel are always available to us. Gulf has a good track record of supporting independent fuel retailers and a strong and historic brand image. With the backing of Certas Energy, we have no doubt that Gulf will continue to fight the corner of independent petrol retailers and use its buying power to benefit its Dealers. We had a number of offers from other oil companies but the Gulf people, from the delivery depot through to head office, had the right approach from the start. We have worked with some good people at Shell and without doubt they have provided a sound foundation but we have seen more forward thinking and intelligent ideas from Gulf in the past month than we had from Shell over two decades.”
As experienced petrol and convenience retailers, Karen and Stephen recognise that they must continually look to improve the offering to customers. The refurbishment allowed them to significantly improve the retail experience and extending opening hours reaffirmed the value of out of hours shopping. There is a deep relationship between the garage and the people of Tanerdy. Three generations of the same family have run the business and four generations of local households have provided custom. The site is well regarded locally and many firms in the area have accounts there. Business from local taxi companies, hauliers and coach operators exceeds £200,000pa.
“That history is important to us,” continues Stephen. “We are active supporters of the local community and they support us but we also know that we cannot rest on our laurels. The move to Gulf is the latest step to improve our offering to customers. It will benefit them at the pumps as will the Certas Energy/Suresite card platform which will be more efficient and still allow us to accept Shell cards. Our current system has recently become a source of frustration and it’s a weight off our mind that those problems will soon be behind us.”
Tanerdy Garage has always made a conscious effort to utilise local suppliers and stock fresh local produce. That is exemplified by the site’s sandwiches, made on the premises using local bread and fillings and proudly promoted as the best sandwiches in Wales. With turnover now exceeding £100,000 it’s a statement that appears justified.
“As forecourt operators we are always looking for new opportunities and taking over the daily sandwich making was one of those,” states Stephen, a former microbrewery owner. “New revenue streams help to protect our livelihoods and those of our staff. Our staff are the jewel in the crown and we cannot speak highly enough of them. They are enthusiastic, multi-talented, loyal and the bedrock of our business. Some of them have been with us since Karen and I took over the running of the Garage in 1994.”
Training at Tanerdy is ongoing in areas such as Health and Safety, fuel deliveries, retailing, food hygiene and customer service.
“Today’s forecourt staff have to be knowledgeable in so many areas, we never underestimate the importance of their role and the impact that they have on how a filling station is perceived by its customers and within the community. The whole team at Tanerdy is feeling optimistic about the future and the switch to Gulf. It’s time to return to a two-way working partnership where we face the challenges together and reap the rewards together.”