FreshStop, the South African retailer that understood new times
Posted / Last update: 08-03-2017
In 2013, FreshStop was named International Convenience Retailer of the Year by Insight NACS. It now has 250 stores across Caltex stations in South Africa. We interview Joe Boyle, Director of FreshStop, to learn more about their business and South Africa´s market.
As many convenience stores around the world start investing in fresh food and healthier options, South African retailer FreshStop was already walking this path back in 2009. The brand recently reached a new milestone with the opening of its 250th store in Kempton Park, Gauteng. All their stores are located at Caltex stations in South Africa. In 2013, it was named International Convenience Retailer of the Year by Insight NACS Convenience Retail Awards.
When drivers arrive at a Caltex fuel station with a FreshStop store they are greeted by the slogan “Fill up, fresh up!”, bright green colours and images of fresh products all across the store windows. In many ways, FreshStop embodies the character of the modern convenience retailer, offering a wide selection of healthy products, including fruit and vegetables, alongside typical c-store products such as cigarettes and chips, as well as various food-on-the-go options such as burgers, chicken wraps and hotdogs.
Coming up with a new c-store concept
When Chevron SA, owner of the 870 Caltex gas stations active in South Africa, asked grocery retailer Fruit & Veg City to develop a new, joint convenience store concept for its fuel station network, the FreshStop concept started taking shape. In those days, South African convenience stores were dominated by the Five C´s: chocolate, coffee, carbonated soft drinks, chips and cigarettes.
“FreshStop had to mould its concept to fit into the fuel retailing world, as before we never sold chocolate bars, cigarettes or soft drinks,” explains Joe Boyle, Director of FreshStop. “We did some market research and we realized that many customers were interested in healthy products but also liked to indulge in some unhealthier things, so we came up with a mixed concept.”
What set FreshStop apart from its competitors, according to Boyle, was the fact they could use the distribution and buying power of Food Lovers Market and Fruit & Veg City to offer fresh products at reasonable prices. “We worked out a structure so we could get to the Food Loves Market distribution centres from our stores.”
Adapting to the needs of each location
FreshStop is opening an average of 35 to 40 stores per year, with Caltex´s 870 service stations still leaving much room for expansion. When a store operator wants to convert to FreshStop, the company evaluates the characteristics of the site and together with the operator decides the most successful format.
“Some stores are quite small, some have a kitchen and others are in between. In general, we try to work with what is there. We find that groceries are on the decline, while the food service area is jumping substantially. So we are trending more into installing food service stores,” says Boyle.
The company also decides which food categories can work best for that store. Through building partnerships with other brands, such as Lavazza, and developing their own food offerings, FreshStop currently has twelve different food, beverage and breakfast options that they can install in a store: Crispy Chicken, Hooked On Fish & Chips, Grill 'n Go, Pizza Stop and Biltong Bar are just some examples.
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