Putting Ireland on the map

Putting Ireland on the map

Derek Nolan, senior retail director of Operations, Circle K tells IF&CR how Circle K has been making it even easier for the Irish customer with the opening of the network’s largest service station.

Ireland’s newest Circle K service station opened March 28, 2019 on the main M11 commuter belt at Gorey creating 40 jobs.

This is the first of three new Circle K motorway sites to open representing a €35m investment by the company.

As the largest service station in the brand’s global network, senior retail director of operations at Circle K, Derek Nolan, believes this is an important milestone for Circle K in Ireland.

“We’re extremely proud of the Gorey site and how it has been performing so far,” he says. “The customer response has been excellent.”

Having previously lived in Gorey himself, Derek is more familiar than most of the need for a service station of this calibre in the area.

“We saw a fantastic opportunity at Gorey. There are up to 20,000 commuters along the route on a daily basis so this location is of significant strategic importance to the company.”

Boasting a large cafe area and Circle K’s ‘Simply Great Coffee’, the new location is favoured primarily by two types of customer; the transient commuter, and the local shopper. It appears both types of consumer are impressed with the site’s vast range of facilities.

“With the sites’ high net promoter score, customers are not only telling us they like the facilities, but they also receive the full customer experience when they are in the site. You can never underestimate how important the customer experience is.

“With any business now you have to focus in on the customer service aspect. A site at this location was really needed but the customers also have to come in and enjoy the experience as well.”

Circle K Gorey is home a range of superb offerings including Circle K’s miles and milesPLUS advanced premium fuels, fast-charge points for electric vehicles and dedicated pumps for AdBlue and Gasoil customers. Also available are Circle K’s renowned and extensive deli food range, and a fully serviced barista offering exciting new innovations in the areas of frozen drinks and ice cream.

Topping off the extensive offering at the Gorey site which will be open on a 24/7 basis, there is a seated café area; an indoor and outdoor children’s play area; a Fáilte Ireland tourist information point and extensive parking for customers including truck and coach spaces. A McDonald’s restaurant will open soon adding to the site’s extensive food service offering.

Since the official rebrand from Topaz to Circle K, the company has been pushing the food-to-go category and Circle K Gorey is the fifth site in the network to receive the brand’s Mexican street food concession, ‘Cantina’.

“We’ve seen the reaction to Cantina and it is very popular,” says Derek. “We’re very proud of how the brand had been received so far.

“I think with food-to-go, all you have to do is listen to your customer. If you’re not innovating within this space you’re going to lose traction to your competitors.

“What we’ve done at Gorey is try to enhance the food offer that we already have and bring out more high quality ranges. It’s about giving customers a choice when they walk in, whether they want a healthy option, a fully cooked meal, or a McDonald’s; the choice is there.

“We’re continuously looking to expand our food service range in order to bring our customers in Ireland the highest quality product. Having said that, you’ve seen what Circle K has done in this area in the last number of years and we’re very proud to say that Circle K has led the way for innovation in this sector.”

Complimenting the site’s food service offer is Circle K’s fuel card. Already, the fuel card business at Gorey has performed above network average with Derek explaining the site hasn’t been hindered by customers getting used to the brand.

However, what really sets the site apart in this area of the country, Derek believes, is its fantastic fuel offering.

“We have Circle K miles fuel as well as milesPlus, Irelands’ first premium additised fuel and have put AdBlue on our pumps in response to customer demand.

“All-in-all, if you look at what the customer is asking for we’ve delivered on a high percentage of that.

“Circle K’s mission is, ‘how do we make our customer’s lives a little easier every day?’ It sounds like a great strap line but it is truly the essence of what we’re trying to do at every one of our sites.

“Each time we build a new site we look at what we can do differently to improve on our offer based on customer feedback. It’s a core part of our business.”

The next site to open as part of the €35m investment will be in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, followed by a further service station on the M9 in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. Both similar sizes to Gorey, Circle K will continue to add to its offer in these locations based on the facilities that have been a success in Wexford.

“For Gorey as a site, it is about building the business and the customer experience. We have all the facilities in place but now it’s about growing that for the customer.

“For the wider company we still have a very exciting year ahead of us as we continue to focus on the opening of our new sites and underpinning our food offer throughout that,” adds Derek.