Retail Insider, in partnership with Novomind, held its latest Zoom Cocktail Hour with Mark Fox, CEO of Roadchef, who talked about his mission to elevate the perception of the motorway service station.

With a major £75 million investment made across the estate of Roadchef service stations and the introduction of new brands like Leon Mark detailed some of the big changes he has brought about since he took on the CEO role at the company two years ago. These have been made to change the view that the offers at motorway service stations are expensive and low quality.

Senior executives from businesses including McDonald’s, Amazon, Rank, Laithwaites and Sourced Market also heard Mark acknowledge that he had been “incredibly lucky”, when compared with many other companies, as traffic levels at Roadchef are down by only 10-15% since Covid-19.

Catch some of Mark’s insights here.

He revealed that 630 million vehicles pass the Roadchef sites annually and that around 7% stop at one of the locations. Of these people he has made good progress in getting them to spend more at the retail and food service outlets on-site rather than possibly just using the free toilet facilities.

The split between retail and foodservice is 50:50, with the core brands WH Smith, Spar, Costa and McDonald’s. These are supplemented with specially selected brands for certain sites that include Pret A Manger, Chozen Noodle and The Cornish Bakery. This move to tailor the brand mix to specific locations is a concerted effort to move away from the traditional cookie-cutter approach.

Mark told the senior retail executives on the Zoom call how he remained very positive for the future, despite the major challenges, and how vitally important it is to continue to innovate. At Roadchef this has included adapting the present McDonald’s and Costa propositions to introduce drive-thrus where possible and also introduce dynamic pricing within part of retail offer.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Mark Fox for sharing his experiences and insights into the role of marketing and branding and also to Novomind for supporting this series of Retail Insider Zoom Cocktail Hours.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider