Motorway service shake-up could spark foodservice gold rush

Motorway services

Foodservice chains could have a big part to play in government plans to modernise the standards of motorway service stations.

It was revealed this week that a new design panel is being formed by ministers to improve standards at around 100 sites across the UK.

John Hayes, the transport minister, wants to buildings contain more natural light and green space. Crucially for the foodservice industry, he said that independent cafés and shops could be encouraged to improve the retail experience.

Hayes noted that good design was “beginning to creep back in” again, citing Beaconsfield services on the M40 and Cobham on the M25 as those that stand out for their innovation.

The design panel will reportedly be made up of architects, motoring groups and station providers, with any recommendations likely to be submitted to operators of the largest service stations later this year.

Advocates of the plan said the UK should follow the example of countries such as France, where sculptures, plants and green space for children encourage people to stop out of choice rather than necessity.

Some motorway service operators are already taking their responsibilities seriously. Earlier this month, Welcome Break revealed a £1m investment plan that will see at least five of its sites undergo massive refurbishments this year.

Its latest site to be refurbished is Hopwood Park services, which is located off junction two of the M42 in Worcestershire, where a new food court has been introduced.

Tenants include Subway, Starbucks, Harry Ramsden’s and Waitrose.

The revamp fits into a wider national investment programme that will see the foodservice facilities at several service stations upgraded. Other Welcome Break venues scheduled to be redeveloped in 2015 include Leicester Forest East, Corley, Warwick, Gordano and Fleet.

Rod McKie, CEO of Welcome Break, said: “Hopwood Park is the first of our sites to be re-launched this year, after an extensive £1m investment. Over the next three months, five of our other sites will complete their renovations after a similar level of capital expenditure, ensuring our customers can enjoy even more of the warm, comfortable and rewarding experience that we’re known for, as well as top quality food brands and wider choices.”

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