Case Study

Threshfield Garage & SPAR PFS

Sector: Food Retail

Client: James Hall & Co.

Location: Preston

Our Client

James Hall & Co. is a fifth generation, family owned food retailing business that has traded for over 155 years. Within its house of brands, it is the SPAR wholesaler for the North of England supplying more than 600 stores. They also own an estate of over 100 convenience stores and 29 petrol stations.

They employ around 3,500 people and community focussed with strong links to local people and charities. They invest a substantial amount of their profits into local communities, ensuring the long-term prosperity of the business for its customers and employees. In commercial terms, this means having good governance in place and being able to adapt to marketplace trends. So, it’s no surprise that the history of their business shares its DNA with the growth and success of food retail. In 1956, the company was among the first distributors to introduce SPAR to the UK and brought the benefits of cold-food storage and distribution to millions of people.

On top of recently expanding their warehousing by 40,000 sq. ft, in the next two years they intend to open a further 20 stores, maintaining their position as a market leader in an ever-competitive marketplace.

“In the 1980’s, the slogan ‘8 till late’ catapulted SPAR to the forefront of convenience shopping with longer opening hours, improved store standards and an enhanced range of stock. All around Britain, independent retailers and wholesalers prospered with SPAR.”

The Project

An ambitious three-year project with an eight-month build and a £1m budget to establish a petrol station and local store within the boundary of The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

SPAR Threshfield on Kettlewell Road near Grassington, which opened in August 2017, is a petrol station, off licence, and general store, with an in-store bakery, deli counter and butcher 
(H Weatherhead & Sons). It serves hot food, coffee and fresh fruit & veg to customers from 07:00 until 22:00, seven days a week.

The proposed store had to be in keeping with the National Park, which meant James Hall & Co. needed to go the extra mile in terms of design, using non-standard materials in retail terms – local stone, a pitched slate roof and timber to give a rural appearance. Notably, the petrol station has no canopy, so as not to over dominate the appearance of the site or the landscape.

The shop was an overnight success with the local community, especially with older members who had struggled to make the 9-mile trip to the nearest town, Skipton. It went on to become a 2018 Regional Winner in the Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards.

Our Approach

We submitted a substantial piece of work to demonstrate the retail impact of the new store on the local area, addressing the range of services.  We were able to demonstrate that the proposal would not result in an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Grassington.  

In response to technical objections, we were able to demonstrate some of the benefits of James Hall running its own fleet of delivery vehicles. The fleet controls meant that the size of vehicles and the noise and safety impact on the overall residential amenity would be minimal.

“Throughout the process, including the construction period, we stayed in constant dialogue with our client, managing their day-to-day enquiries and keeping them on track to ensure any changes were lawful. As a retained consultant for James Hall & Co., we see projects through from the feasibility stage through to completion on site. Working with a retailer is fast-paced, but we’re used to this. We’re fully aware of the impact that a delay in the discharge of conditions or design amendments can have whilst sites are under construction. For this reason, we provide a dedicated point of contact and twice-monthly updates for our client.”
Graham Love, Director, Smith & Love
“We’ve worked with Smith & Love right from inception. They were immediately approachable and took the time to fully understand what we were trying to do. In our world, everyone wants planning yesterday, but the UK planning system is difficult to navigate. You need someone who is going to adapt to it and navigate the best routes for you. Smith & Love will navigate you through these rules that don’t always make sense and will work hard to get results. They’re pragmatic. They do a good job and get it done within tight timescales.”
Andrew Bangs, Property Director, James Hall & Co.