Located near Gatwick Airport, West Sussex retailer David Wyatt, works day and night in his shop to ensure his customers get what they need.

From breakfast on the go, to energy drinks for night shift workers, David’s shop has it all. Rachel Barr reports     

Being located a stone’s throw away from Gatwick Airport, West Sussex retailer David Wyatt has tailored his store to meet the needs of the shift workers and weary travellers who come through his door at all times of the day and night.

The 1,500sq ft Costcutter and Shell forecourt is just five miles from the airport, which employs more than 21,000 people, and is next to a large carpark for Gatwick’s travellers.

Shoppers can stock up on essentials or a hot snack before they travel home at any time because the shop is open 24 hours.

“We have Seattle Coffee, which is very popular, and I sell 110 to 120 coffees a day at around £1.60 profit per £2.19 cup sold,” he says.

David’s store specialises in food to go, offering fresh coffee and bakery products, freshly-made sandwiches and curries and jacket potatoes.

“I use Cuisine de France and Country Choice for the bakery and items such as sausage rolls. It has built up over the years and we now sell at least £600 of bakery products a day.

“For breakfast, along with croissants, we have breakfast wraps and rolls made to order, along with a ‘breakfast-in-a-box’,” he adds.

This breakfast-in-a-box is a traditional full English breakfast to take away – complete with baked beans – and is made fresh to order.

Catering for holidaymakers and shift workers also involves stocking a strong range of energy drinks.

“Energy drinks are positioned right by the door. They are massive for us, because of all the customers working at or travelling to Gatwick, and late night drivers too,” says David.

“We used to have a really wide range but now stick to Red Bull and Monster and a value alternative.”

A dedicated e-cigarette section next to the till is another draw and David has thrown himself into developing this category recently with impressive results.

In the last four months, he has seen a 600% increase in sales after installing a standalone unit holding 48 Liberty Flight flavours and accessories.

“People who work shifts know they can come in any time if they have run out,” he says.

Another popular area is the off-licence, especially after the store was granted a 24-hour licence in July.

“We get night shift workers in the early hours buying a bottle of wine or some beers to go with their dinner,” says David.

“The off-licence is very competitive and promotions account for 70% of the section’s £19,000 a week turnover.

wine“Deals such as £4.99 for Gallo’s Family Rosé and £5.99 for a bottle of white Blossom Hill are popular.”

To drive further sales from these sections David decided four years ago to put the majority of his advertising on two flat- screen televisions.

“It’s much clearer and they change throughout the day so we can tell people about breakfast options in the morning, for example, then alcohol later in the day.”

With profits up 3% year on year, and a turnover of £35,000 a week excluding fuel, David now plans to add even more services, but doesn’t have space to do so in the current store.

He has therefore drawn up plans for an extension to double the size of the shop, although uncertainty about the effect of the Brexit vote on employment and traveller numbers at Gatwick means he has put them on hold for six months.

When the refurbishment goes ahead, however, David plans to install a diner-style seating area so he can offer gourmet burgers in the evenings. Other ideas include a protein bar, offering barista coffee and milkshakes.

“I also want to double the alcohol section and set up an app so people can order, for example, a coffee, burger and a packet of cigarettes. They can then set a time and the order will be ready when they come in.”

David says the changes would be an exciting development of the 20-year-old site, allowing him to future-proof and further tailor his services for his unusual customer base.

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