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Eastern Cape in global retailing spotlight – Mthatha Service Station in line for international award

Mthatha Convenience Store FreshStop at Caltex Fort Gale has been short-listed for the title of “best convenience store in the world” by a global association of fuel retailers and convenience stores – the only entrant from Africa in a line-up of 14 finalists from Australia, India and Europe.

After just a year in operation, the Caltex Fort Gale FreshStop store – which has brought several “new to market” facilities and food offerings to Mthatha – made the cut for the International Convenience Retailer of the Year award presented by NACS, the US-based international association for the convenience and fuel retail industry.

With 277 stores countrywide, FreshStop-at-Caltex leads the market for convenience stores on service station forecourts in South Africa, according to market researchers Nielsen, and is at the forefront of a growing consumer preference for small, local stores which now accounts for more than a quarter of the global grocery market.

The Fort Gale store is one of 33 FreshStops sited at service stations under the umbrella of Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer (CECM), and one of six local award-winners that saw the province sweep the boards at the recent FreshStop national Retailer of the Year awards.

The top three places in FreshStop’s 2018 national awards went to the Eastern Cape, for the stores at Caltex sites in Gonubie, Fort Gale and Beacon Bay, while Cookhouse and Northcrest Mthatha made the runners-up list.

Caltex Hobie Beach in Port Elizabeth was a runner-up in the Best Coffee category, for its Seattle Coffee outlet, while CECM managing director Clive Berlyn was recognised as one of FreshStop’s “Top Brand Ambassadors” at the awards event.

The placing of the Fort Gale Caltex FreshStop in the running for the international award was announced at the same event, with the results now awaited from the NACS international convention and awards taking place in Las Vegas later this year.

“We are very proud to see the Eastern Cape dominating these national awards, and especially proud of Caltex Fort Gale for their international nomination. What all these winning retailers clearly show is that the more you put in, the bigger the reward – it is a clear reflection of their passion and hands-on daily involvement,” said Berlyn.

The Caltex Fort Gale FreshStop is the anchor of an investment in Mthatha of more than R60-million by CECM and its business partners.

Launched in May last year, the development includes an upgraded fuel service station with world-class technology for stock management and quality monitoring, improved traffic flow and accessibility, together with a shopping centre with local and national chain tenants, and a one-stop hub of services and convenience shopping for travellers and residents.

Caltex Fort Gale has provided a much-needed boost to the economy of Mthatha, where two-thirds of the population are unemployed. Permanent staff employed at the service station and convenience store have increased from 31 to 54 employees, with employment opportunities created in partnership with the Efata School for the Blind and Deaf in Mthatha.

An additional 12 seasonal short-term positions, and more employment opportunities as tenants take up space in the shopping centre, are anticipated.

“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.  

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