Source: BP

It follows a trial at two company-owned stores in Holborough and Byron last year

BP has launched a new food for now concept, offering freshly made breakfast and lunch options with seating areas, The Grocer can reveal.

Jo Hayward, VP for convenience in Europe at BP, said it followed a trial at two company-owned sites in Holborough and Byron in 2023, with the concept set to be rolled out to a further 10 sites by April.

As an extension of its Wild Bean Cafe brand, which is known for its ‘heat to eat’ pastries, baps, and coffee, the latest evolution consists of an in-store kitchen offering freshly prepared food that is made to order.

The new menu includes fish finger sandwiches, avocado, halloumi and egg baps, crispy herby chicken burgers and its bestseller, the ‘big breakfast bap’.

Hayward explained the range could be customised to customers’ tastes, such as switching mild mustard mayo for spicy gochujang ketchup, choosing rye or white bread, or requesting a runny egg yolk.

“Gone are the days when a Coca-Cola and a pasty is enough,” Hayward said. “People want good quality food while they’re on the move. Trends are changing, competition is increasing, so people’s expectations and demands are increasing. Constantly listening to the customers’ wants and needs is key.”

Hayward said the inspiration for the food for now concept was a result of a customer survey.

“What came across really evidently was they wanted fresh food for now and coffee,” she said. “Therefore, made-to-order is where we wanted to go because it really signalled that fresh proposition.”

Hayward added that one idea behind the seating areas was to fulfil “dwell-time” for motorists who were waiting to charge their electronic vehicles. “We feel this gives us another point of difference to our competitors such as Costa or Starbucks.”

While catering to transient customers, Hayward said the concept was complemented by its M&S grocery offer for customers on a top-up mission but also wanted a coffee, bap, or doughnut.

Under the trial stores, BP has seen double-digit growth in food sales across its Wild Bean Cafe offer thanks to the upgraded menu. It’s also acting as a footfall driver, Hayward said, with more than 50% of transactions food only, including M&S.

As part of the 10-store rollout by April, across areas including Warwick, Newmarket and London, Hayward explained the offer had been tailored to fit each store’s “individual needs”.

“We are calling it an evolution of this offer, as a slightly scaled-back version,” she said. “For example, we’ll keep the bestsellers on the menu but remove some of the lines the customers are less interested in, such as the loaded fries or made-to-order salads. We may also use remove some of the seating areas.”

Hayward said BP would look to add the concept to more stores by the end of the year. She also alluded to BP working on an evening-only offer.

She added the latest food for now concept would become available to independents as a franchise offer, but intends to scale it up across its company-owned estate first. “The primary focus is to offer the micromarket proposition to independents for now, which is a less complex operation,” she said.

I see a great opportunity for growth in this area,” said Hayward. “When I think about what we want to achieve in convenience, it’s offering value, quality food, a seamless experience, with great friendly service. 

“We want to be the first choice for the customer on the side of the road.”