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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

Coast to Coast grabs gold at national award ceremony

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PEMBROKESHIRE COAST NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY’S long-running visitor newspaper Coast to Coast was one of the gold winners at the recent CIPR Cymru Wales PRide Awards.

The free annual visitor newspaper picked up the award for Best Publication at an online ceremony hosted by broadcaster Jason Mohammad, having last won the award in 2014.

National Park Authority Communications and Marketing Manager Marie Edwards said: “We are delighted that Coast to Coast has been recognised once again alongside so many other great entries and winners from the private and public sectors.

“Hundreds of thousands of copies are picked up across Pembrokeshire and beyond each year, helping people to learn more about the National Park and enjoy their visit.

“We would like to thank all the readers, stockists and advertisers for their ongoing support as we prepare to publish the 40th edition in 2022.”

In assessing the Coast to Coast entry, the judges felt there was “a very clear brief for Coast to Coast, with well thought through targets. The entry demonstrated a strong alignment to the organisational goals as well as importantly, giving staff the opportunity to contribute.

“Ultimately this approach led to excellent metrics in the evaluation and fantastic feedback from customers, which the judges were particularly impressed with.”

National Park Authority Chairman Cllr Paul Harries added: “The team should be extremely proud to have won another gold at these prestigious awards, which follows on from an incredibly successful few years despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and emphasises the high calibre of officers we have working for the Authority.

“The team works tirelessly to promote the National Park and the Authority in so many different ways, including the ever popular Coast to Coast, which continues to go from strength to strength.”

To read this year’s edition online or find out more about advertising in the 2022 edition of Coast to Coast visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/coast-to-coast.

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Business

Online buyers prefer real-life human help over AI says Currys

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  • Tech buyers in the decade to come will prefer real-life human help to faceless robot retail
  • New look Currys predicts an era of H.I. – Human (not artificial) Intelligence
  • 3 million conversations with online shoppers via ShopLive, in last 18 months, proves desire for human help
  • Research from the retailer shows that more than half (58%) of Brits want to speak to a real-life expert before they buy
  • Research also shows that 57% of shoppers who get real human help before they buy are likely to get the right product first time and be more satisfied with their purchase

THERE’S a new breed of post-pandemic shopper, demanding help from experts and rejecting faceless robot retailers, says new look Currys (previously Currys PC World), as it relaunches its UK stores and online services. A new trend labelled “Robot Rejection”, shows these shoppers are demanding face-to-face human interaction and expertise alongside digital experiences when buying everyday technology – which is often expensive, unfamiliar and difficult to select.

As it enters a new omnichannel chapter in its 137-year history, Currys, the UK’s biggest retailer of tech, has been at the forefront of this emerging trend. The retailer has evolved its hybrid retail format of online and in-store experience, creating more opportunities for today’s buyer of technology to access Human Intelligence online. In Summer 2020, the retailer launched its pioneering 24/7 online ShopLive platform, ensuring shoppers could still obtain in-person advice from one of their expert colleagues from a laptop tablet or phone, without visiting a store. The service has proved to be popular with over 3m customers engaging with it to date.

Currys states that in 2021, 58% of people shopping for expensive and unfamiliar tech products would like to speak to a real-life human expert before they buy, whether that be instore or online. In fact, 57% of shoppers that get human help are more satisfied with their purchase than those who don’t, and they state that interactions with humans lead to them making the right choice first time, meaning it’s a quicker and more cost-effective way to buy. Computing tech is the category with the highest need of expertise, where 60% of people said they wouldn’t make a purchase without expert advice. Research also shows that return rates are higher when consumers don’t speak to an expert beforehand, with 64% of people saying they’d be happy with the right product and less likely to return their purchase if they got the advice with real human expert help.

With over 3 million online shoppers demonstrating the need for Human intelligence via its ShopLive service, Currys has been able to pinpoint the tech categories where online tech shoppers most look for real-life human expertise, with those coming out top including laptops, washing machines and TVs. The most popular time to get that expertise is between 5pm – 7pm on weekdays and 3pm on a Saturday. Following this starting success, Currys predicts it will have around 150,000 online ShopLive conversations during Black Friday week, this November.  The retailer is also set to build on this success with a new Currys website that will enable better content, more personalisation and a slicker, quicker experience.

The retailer believes stores will remain important for customers too. Internal data from the business also shows that 61% of shoppers believe it is important to see a product in real-life before buying, where consumers can have conversations with experts in a unique environment where they can see, touch and play with the tech they are thinking about buying. Currys is also making improvements within its bricks and mortar locations, introducing content that shows how products work on interactive customer-facing digital screens. In addition, the retailer is making it possible for people to get hands-on with the latest tech before they buy, powering ever more of the products on show, including laptops, TVs, gaming consoles, vacuums and much more.

Currys is investing nearly £25m in extra advanced training for its 13,500 colleagues which involves undertaking an additional 16 hours of further training. This new programme will teach colleagues about the intricacies within technologies; how they work, what the benefits are, and how to demonstrate them in store. In addition, they will be taught how to have a great conversation, asking the right questions to identify the shoppers’ unique requirements and best match them to the right tech for them. So far, in total colleagues have completed an additional 121,674 hours of expert coaching – significantly more training than any other tech retailer – with more to come.

Ed Connolly, Chief Commercial Officer at Currys told Herald.Wales: “Technology is such an intrinsic part of our lives now. More than ever before, prior to handing over their hard-earned cash, people want advice about the tech they buy from a real-life human expert, particularly when it comes to expensive and more complex kit.

“The new Currys brand has evolved to match this changing consumer need, delivering helpful, expert in person advice when and where shoppers need it most. We have invested heavily in our website and in ensuring that our frontline colleagues are not only the absolute experts on the tech we sell but that they also know how to get to the heart of what customers need and want. Every colleague is trained to listen first, inspire and then find the right product for the shopper and educate them on how to use it, in a way an algorithm simply cannot.

“We know not every purchase requires guidance from an expert. Sometimes shoppers already know what they want, or they just need something small and simple, which our websites and stores are well equipped for. However, when it comes to more complex products, speaking to someone in-the-know, whether that is online or instore, is what today’s new trend in ‘Robot Rejection’ is all about. Expert advice shortcuts the lengthy buying process, cuts out confusion and ultimately arms shoppers with the tech they need. Whether it’s understanding the difference between resolution and HD Ready when finding the perfect TV amongst the OLED or QLED acronyms, or simply wanting help deciding on a washer dryer combo, our experts are on hand to answer any questions.”

Martin Raymond, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief of Future Lab says: “‘As our research suggests, more and more people are looking for human-in-the-loop experts, advice, and face to face moments with brands as screen and AI fatigue sets in post-COVID. We also trust people and experts to give us the right kind of advice, at a time when we’re increasingly understanding that as many as three quarters of self-styled  influencers we are meant to follow on TikTok and Instagram hide their ad disclosures, while many of those ‘peer’ reviews we read on Amazon etc, are really paid-for reviews, so more and more, we want named experts we can independently validate, and to speak with brands that have a history and a reputation in the marketplace.”

To mark the rebrand and opening of new look Currys stores, the company has launched its biggest ever brand campaign calling out fake reviews, bot farms and lazy algorithms. A new TV ad shows how life is better when you listen to experts, especially when it comes to tech, and heroes the role of Currys’ expert colleagues.

Currys is a new brand formed from Currys PC World, Carphone Warehouse, Team Knowhow and Dixons Carphone with a bold new look and is committed to making it even easier for everyone to enjoy amazing technology. Becoming one brand means customers can turn to Currys for all their tech needs, interacting with Currys colleagues in stores, online, over the phone and on the doorstep.

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Business

New Commercial Manager joins Port of Milford Haven’s team

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has appointed Sharon Adams as its new Commercial Manager for Pembroke Port.  A key part of her role will be to develop growing markets and support existing customers.

Sharon joins the Port from Chambers Wales where, most recently, she supported businesses with the changes required post-Brexit. Previous to that Sharon’s career was predominantly in management roles within the hospitality and leisure industries with companies including The Parc by Thistle, St Brides Spa Hotel and Bluestone Resorts.

Sharon is delighted to join the Port, commenting “Learning more about the export and import markets really interested me, so when the opportunity to work with the Port came up I knew this was the right opportunity to put my commercial skills to good use. I’m very much looking forward to the challenge and the variety of businesses I’ll be working with.”

Commercial Director at the Port, Steve Edwards, said “Sharon has values that align to our culture and a wealth of commercial experience, and her latest role at Chambers Wales meant that she learnt a great deal about the movement of goods around the globe which puts her in an excellent position to help businesses grow whilst utilising our Pembroke site.”

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