FreshStop Diner at Caltex Fort Gale, Mthatha
Last week, the prestigious NACS Insight industry body announced its finalists for the 2018 International Convenience Retailer of the Year Awards 2018 and local entrant, FreshStop at Caltex Fort Gale store in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, made the cut. Competition was strong with convenience stores from India, Ireland, Norway, UK, Australia and Spain making up the list of finalists with FreshStop Fort Gale being the only finalist from Africa.
FreshStop, the fastest growing and largest convenience retail brand in South Africa, is leading the industry in SA and its trailblazing entry of FreshStop Fort Gale in Mthatha features a raft of ‘new to market’ facilities and services for the location, bringing a world-class food offering to a rural, underdeveloped area.
Now in its 9th year, the International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award recognises excellence in convenience and forecourt retailing on an international stage by celebrating the best convenience retail formats from around the world. The 2017 winner of the International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award was Spar Natural, a convenience store in Gran Canaria in Spain.
The site features the first American-themed diner in Mthatha and FreshStop Fort Gale is the first c-store to offer six takeaway food brands, all with a strong African flavour to suit the needs of the local market. It is the only c-store in the area with a covered, modern seating area, where diners can enjoy their meals; and it’s also the only c-store with free Wifi in Mthatha as well as a specially-designed pause counter with electrical plug points; and it’s the first location in the area to offer premium barista coffee with its Seattle Coffee bar.
With more than 275 stores across South Africa, FreshStop’s Fort Gale store in Mthatha offers a welcoming environment where customers can freely walk through the store, which is in stark contrast to other shops in the area where shoppers can only purchase their goods through metal bars, with no access to the store itself. The store features FreshStop’s in-house radio in the customers’ local vernacular language.
The food range is extensive and includes the fried chicken brand, Crispy Chicken; Pitstop Café, featuring a variety of pre-cooked, takeaway options; Grill to Go, offering burgers, ribs and chicken; a Hot Dog Cafe serving gourmet hot dogs and toppings; Hooked On that offers traditional fish and chips; Seattle Coffee Company, a premium coffee brand; 24-hour over-the-counter medical dispensary; fresh fruit and vegetables at competitive prices to appeal to lower income groups plus healthier options that include Snack on the Run, Smoothies, Juice and Health Bars.
The site is owned by the Ndamara Investment Company, a level 4 Black Economic Empowerment company that has been investing in the Mthatha area for the past 29 years. Since the site opened in May 2017, Ndamara has invested R40m, which has made a significant impact in less than a year. Further, Novate Fuel Solutions, an operations management company, has invested an additional R5.2m in the FreshStop convenience outlet; while total investment at the Fort Gale Junction, of which FreshStop is the anchor tenant, amounts to over R60m.
The Mthatha site has provided a much needed boost to the local economy from an employment and people development perspective. Employment opportunities have been created in partnership with the Efata School for the Blind and Deaf in Mthatha, where the poverty rate is 65%. The unemployment rate is 66% and there’s just a 42% literacy rate.
The number of permanent staff at the site has increased from 31 to 54 employees, representing a 74% increase and, during peak season, an additional 12 short-term positions are created. The team is diverse – all ages, colours and educational backgrounds – with some even studying for their degrees while working full-time. FreshStop has a policy of growing and promoting staff from within and some staff members who started as cleaners are now cashiers, while some cashiers have progressed to admin manager roles.
“Our focus is always on convenience and ensuring that our customers have a choice of quality food options to cater to their tastes. “Having been the winner of this award in 2013, and a finalist in 2017, we are once again honoured to be listed among such fine international retailers and we hope to make South Africa and our continent proud with the innovation and quality of our offering,” says Joe Boyle, Director of FreshStop.
FreshStop, named International Convenience Retailer of the Year 2013 and finalist of the 2017 & 2018 International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award, is South Africa’s fastest growing 24-hour convenience store brand and has a network of 275 stores countrywide.
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Issued by: Byte Media on behalf of: FreshStop