A father and son team have reimagined their store to include convenience retail brand Centra’s first drive thru, while supporting 20 local jobs.
Conor Ryan and his son Daire saw the great potential and opportunity with the A1 Centra site and, after acquiring the business earlier this year, have just completed a major revamp – unveiling the new look Centra A1 Eatery at the beginning of September.
The newly transformed 4,790-square-foot store, well positioned on the major cross-border commuter route, represents one of the largest infrastructure projects in the area to date with £1m of investment and supporting 20 jobs. The site closed in March and the significant investment involved extensions to the store, as well as increasing the parking availability for customers.
“This stretch of the road has needed a service offering like this for a long time, and we are both proud and excited to be behind this newly-developed store,” says Conor. “We’re confident that Centra A1 will cater for all customers; from those who travel along the road daily, and need a quick caffeine fix, families and groups of friends on the road to Belfast and even local people living within close range of the store.”
Over recent years, Centra has been investing heavily in both new and existing stores as Musgrave continues with its ambitious growth strategy. Centra A1 Eatery is the latest store to be reimagined.
Located on the Halfway Road leaving Banbridge towards Belfast, the store includes a Drive Thru facility serving Frank & Honest coffee, Ireland’s largest bean to cup gourmet coffee brand.
The drive thru concept is a first for Centra and marks an exciting new phase for the retail brand, Nigel Maxwell, Centra sales director, explains: “At Centra, we are continually looking for new ways to grow our portfolio of stores across Northern Ireland. We recognised that in a location like this, where commuter traffic is at its peak, that customers require different services and I think they will be very impressed when they come in store or use the Drive Thru.”
FOOD TO GO
Centra store refreshes have been underpinned by the focus on redefining convenience – providing shoppers with a healthier offer and innovative ranges, particularly in food to go which is a strength for the brand.
The A1 Eatery is no different. The bright and contemporary store offers customers an expanded food-to-go offering with hot and cold food deli counters providing a range of options from gourmet deli-made sandwiches to hot meals. A full carvery with rotisserie chicken is available as well as freshly squeezed orange juice – meaning every mealtime is covered.
The store’s Moo’d ice cream counter offers customers an array of treats from gorgeous ice cream to milkshakes and whirlies – all available with toppings galore.
COFFEE IS KEY
A Frank & Honest barista bar caters for all coffee lovers with homemade baked goods available. A real success story for Musgrave, Frank & Honest continues to go from strength to strength, becoming market leader just two years after its launch; currently Ireland’s fastest-growing coffee brand and available in over 800 stores throughout the island of Ireland.
Providing customers with a range of food-to-go options as well as a great cup of coffee was key for co-owner Daire.
“For a store in a location like ours, a busy commuter route, ensuring we got our food to go and coffee offer right was critical,” he says. “We are delighted with what we can offer customers and believe we have all bases covered.”
Additional amenities including a café-style seating area for customers to dine in and take some time out with USB charging points and customer Wi-Fi also available.
Nigel Maxwell continues: “Our next generation of Centra stores respond to the changing needs of the busy consumer and provide a more social and relaxing environment.
“On a busy route, such as the A1, customers are looking for some time out from a journey or somewhere to catch up on emails while working on the road. The store provides that option and in addition, for families who may need a pitstop while travelling, there is a children’s play area.”
Toilet facilities, electric car charging ports and 24/7 fuel complete the list of amenities for the new store.
As well as meeting the consumer’s needs in terms of its offer, the latest developments in Musgrave’s well-documented Sustainability Agenda have been implemented at A1 Eatery. Frank & Honest coffee draws customers in, not only for its taste, but also for its efforts to become a more sustainable coffee brand with all takeaway cups fully compostable.
Opening during the Covid-19 pandemic has meant the introduction of social distancing signage and floor markings, hand sanitisers throughout the store, protective screens at the tills and the wearing of face coverings for customers – all important measures to ensure colleague and customer safety is maintained.
“Throughout the pandemic, the safety of our colleagues and customers has been key,” says Nigel Maxwell. “Across our network of stores, we have worked with our retailers to ensure the appropriate safety measures are in place.”
Centra has been leading the way in delivering healthy and inspiring food that is value for money and supports local producers. Just last year, the retail brand was named Convenience Retailer of the Year at the UK-wide Retail Industry Awards.
Centra A1 Eatery has all the components to ensure customers enjoy a fantastic experience whether in store or via the Drive Thru.Daire says: “With our Drive Thru facility, we have introduced a first for the brand which is fantastic however it is now about ensuring we provide the high level of customer service that customers expect from a Centra store. We are excited for the journey ahead and look forward to welcoming our customers to sample the offer.”