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Double acquisition as Certas Energy acquires two Pembrokeshire filling stations

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CERTAS ENERGY has added two West Wales fillings stations to its growing company portfolio with the acquisition of Square & Compass and Letterson Filling Stations, both formerly owned by Roger and Anne Shackleton.

The couple have operated their Pembrokeshire forecourt business for 22 years, its two Gulf branded forecourts are integral to the local community, with large and successful convenience stores and a combined fuel volume of 5.6ml.

“We are delighted to have concluded this deal, it’s a very good fit for our business as we continue to grow our company operation across the UK,” enthuses Richard Billington, Retail Director, Certas Energy. “We already have a strong Gulf presence within Pembrokeshire and these two flagship sites will complement our thriving and expanding Dealer operation.”

“Anne and Roger have put their heart and soul into their business and its standing within the locality is testament to their hard work and that of a very talented team, whom we look forward to working with. We’ll bring the sites into harmony with the rest of our company-owned operation, investing in the latest back-office technology and on-site facilities to future proof the business. We will also remain true to the values established by the Shackletons to be at the heart of the local community.”

Square and Compass filling station in north Pembrokeshire

The two forecourts currently employ 20 people. They are seven miles apart, both situated in the town of Haverfordwest. Dave Morris, Director at specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, acted on behalf of owners Anne and Roger and comments; “The two forecourts presented a great opportunity for a buyer as they are in a good location and well regarded locally. It has been a pleasure to work for Anne and Roger who have been passionate fuel retailers for over 20 years and we wish them all the best with their retirement. Both sites are a good fit for Certas Energy and we look forward to seeing them transition into Certas’ company owned portfolio.”

Reflecting on his departure from the business, Roger Shackleton says: “We have fantastic staff and a successful business that has been nurtured to the needs of our community. I’ve loved every minute of the ever changing environment of forecourt and convenience retailing. I still get up every morning at 4am to prepare for the day ahead but now seems the right time to retire. Certas Energy and Gulf Retail are better suited to unlock the future potential and get the very best out of our two sites. It’s a very emotive time for us both, we regard our staff as family but we know they are in good hands. The Gulf team are genuine, the process has been relatively smooth and David Morris of Christie and Co. has been brilliant, working tirelessly keep the deal progressing and to get us to this place.”

“When we drive past the sites in the future, we may feel saddened that we are no longer at the helm but in Gulf Retail, we are happy that we have sold to the right people.”

This latest acquisition by Certas Energy increases its company portfolio to 35 sites as it continues to grow the Gulf network in size and scale.

Fuel family’s final farewell

IT WAS an emotional farewell at two north Pembrokeshire filling stations this week as the popular owners Roger and Anne Shackleton handed the reigns over to new owners Certas Energy, Britain’s largest independent distributor of fuels and lubricants.

Staff at Letterston filling station say good bye to old owners Roger and Anne

After 22 years, Roger and Anne are looking forward to a more relaxed life on their farm, and to see more of their family, they told The Herald.

In 1997, the couple sold their pedigree herd and bought Letterston Filling Station. In 2007 Square and Compass Filling Station was purchased and plans were made to rebuild the shop into a convenience store to serve the neighbourhood. They were able to provide a wide range of goods and competitive fuel prices over a long period at both sites, an important resource for the local community in both cases.

The staff at Square and Compass filling station

Roger and Anne said in a statement: “We would like to thank our suppliers, and the loyal and long-standing customers for their support over the years. A final thank you goes to the staff, past and present that have helped make the business what it is today.

They added: “We would like to extend our best wishes to Certas Energy for success in the future with both Letterston and Square and Compass Filling Stations.”

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Business

Dragon Palace owners take on The Woodridge Inn Hotel, Saundersfoot

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AFTER five years running the popular Dragon Palace Chinese restaurant at Pentlepoir in Pembrokeshire, owners Jenny and Lok Cheung have taken on an additional business: The Woodridge Inn Hotel, located just down the road near Saundersfoot.

Following a year of lockdowns and refurbishments the inn is now open, offering a welcoming bar, 17 high quality ensuite rooms and an Asian-themed restaurant. Jenny and Lok have also reopened The Dragon Palace restaurant following lockdown.

Located approximately 4km from Saundersfoot and 6km from Tenby, The Woodridge Inn Hotel has good access to the major ports of Fishguard and Pembroke Dock and is ideally situated for trips to Haverfordwest, Narberth and Carmarthen. Surrounded by beautiful National Trust countryside, it has panoramic views to the sea from some of its second-floor rooms and sits on the stunning Landsker Borderlands Trail as well as being close to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Food at the The Woodridge Inn Hotel, Saundersfoot

Jenny and Lok hope The Woodbridge will become popular with visitors including walkers, cyclists, bird watchers and golfers (there are a number of 18-hole golf courses nearby). They also aim to make it a popular, family-friendly hub for the local community, just as it used to be in years gone by.

“Local people have told us that they have fond memories of coming here over the years, and we want to bring these local people back,” said Lok. “We want this to be a place they love to come to with their kids, just as they used to come here with their parents. Part of the reason we want it to be family friendly is because we have a young family ourselves, and we think this would be a nice legacy for our children.”

He and Jenny are especially excited about their new restaurant, whose kitchen is headed up by locally renowned award-winning chef Cheryl Badham. Cheryl, who was previously sous chef at The Mulberry restaurant in Saundersfoot, has excellent links with local food producers, and sources the very best ingredients for her kitchen.

“I try to source all my ingredients within Pembrokeshire,” says Cheryl. “We live in such a beautiful county and its produce is something that should be cherished.”

Jenny, Lok and Cheryl have worked together to create a menu that reflects Jenny and Lok’s Asian background. It builds on their experience running The Dragon Palace, but has a broader culinary range, offering pan-Asian and fusion cuisine.

“We’re offering a nice mix of pan-Asian cuisines, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Filipino dishes,” says Lok. “I don’t think there is anywhere in West Wales that does this kind of food at the moment, and we’re pleased offer something fresh and new.”

They have also added Asian touches to the interior and exterior of the hotel, including an impressive pergola entrance to the restaurant created by a local craftsman. Lok and Jenny have worked to enhance the Woodridge’s large garden, making it a perfect place for a spot of al fresco dining or drinks while the children play.

Now, after over a year of preparation, they are delighted to have opened their doors.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs – obviously Covid didn’t help, but it’s coming together now,” says Lok. “We’ve got a hunger for success and we really want to make something special for the area. I think there’s a lot of untapped potential here.

“Our aim is to offer great quality rooms, a quality restaurant and bar and lovely grounds, and also a high standard of service. We’re very much a family-friendly business and we work to make sure our team and our customers are happy – and that everyone has a smile on their face.”

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Pembrokeshire the perfect holiday spot

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Pembrokeshire has been the perfect holiday destination for many years.

The county is home to miles of scenic coastline and beaches, stunning villages full of character and plenty of coastal escapes. It is the perfect place for tourists to sweep the cobwebs away and enjoy the beauty of the scenic Welsh countryside.

But with so many holidaymakers set to staycation in the UK, the question many people have been asking is where will they all stay? This is where Pass the Keys® comes in!

As the demand for staycation accommodation and short-term rentals grows across the UK, and more so in Pembrokeshire, there is an increasing demand for professional holiday let management services to help make the process of short term letting a completely hassle-free and enjoyable experience for property owners.

Pass the Keys® is run by local people & partnered with local companies but backed by a national brand who have are tried and tested infrastructure, as well as award winning technology to keep a cut above the rest. We are proud to be one of the only Professional Co-hosts of Airbnb in Pembrokeshire, so you can rest easy knowing that you are dealing with short-term letting experts.

Mark Pennino and Jamie Smith, Owners of Pass the Keys – South Pembrokeshire

Our holiday homes thrive thanks to our high standards of local support and this is demonstrated by our extremely high ratings on both Trustpilot and Google Reviews, why not take a look for yourself. Our bespoke software systems ensure that your holiday home is successfully marketed, occupied and kept safe, all of which are important factors to consider when selecting a holiday letting agency.

So, if you’re curious to find out more or maybe you are managing your holiday home yourself and it’s all getting a bit too demanding, go to our website and see how much your property can earn.

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Business

Health, safety and welfare facilities enhanced at Milford Fish Docks

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WORK has been completed at Milford Fish Docks to enhance health, safety and welfare facilities, including the installation of the only marine crane in south Wales.

Following close consultation with the fleet, the Port of Milford Haven successfully applied to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to add to the existing provisions for local and European fishers at Wales’ largest fishing port.

Despite progress being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, embankment ladders, additional life rings and fire extinguishers have all now been installed around the docks, as well as the refurbishment of the shower, toilet and laundry block which includes disabled access.

On the quayside, a marine crane has been installed to enable fishers to load and unload their bait and catch in a safer, more efficient manner, with comprehensive training undertaken by Port staff who are able to operate the crane at any time of the day or night – at no additional cost to the fishing customers.

In order to help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the water, a new mobile foul waste pump out facility is now available meaning any waste from fishing vessels will be taken away and disposed of appropriately rather than entering the waterway.

Melanie Durney, Marina and Docks Manager, said: “We are home to Wales’ largest fishing docks and as a Trust Port we use any profit to develop our infrastructure and services to provide opportunities for today and for future generations. Over the last few years, we have been investing to ensure the inshore fleet can work as effectively and safely as possible, and having this funding meant we could build on what is already here. The new shower and laundry block will make a huge difference to the welfare of fishers as they now have their own designated area to freshen up and the marine crane, which is the only one in the whole of south Wales, will make landing their catch a quicker and safer process.”

The project has been part-funded through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union.

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