A convenient cafe concept


Fast & Ezy Liverpool convenienceUnited Convenience Buyers (UCB) has launched an instore cafe concept in a bid to make the petrol and convenience category more viable to hungry shoppers.

The buying group, which has 1100 convenience and petrol stores under its banner, launched the Café Eroma concept at its national conference last month.

Café Eroma sells barista quality coffee and ready made meals, and will likely launch instore by the end of 2013.

Darren Park, CEO of UCB, told Inside Shopper the cafe responds to the traditional attitude that convenience stores and petrol stations don’t sell good meals.

“You don’t go [to a petrol station] for a coffee, but you would go down the road to Gloria Jean’s, Michel’s Patisserie, or McDonald’s,” he says.

“That was why we sat down and said we can change that. We started looking at where people spend their money.”

According to Him research, 30 per cent of Australian shoppers say they’ve bought food to go from petrol stations in the last month.

This compares to 63 per cent for fast food outlets, 43 per cent from cafes, 50 per cent for takeaway shops, and just eight per cent from convenience stores.

UCB decided to launch Café Eroma after several years of trialling products at its unbranded cafe at the Virgin Sydney domestic airport.

Features include a barista coffee machine and instant ovens, so that pies and other convenience store staples can be reheated for a customer on request.

“We’ll be the first convenience store to have a store without a pie in a pie warmer. If you order a pie, we’ll say we’d rather cook it for you fresh.”

UCB licenses the Fast & Ezy banner; a red and yellow brand that competes with Caltex and 7-Eleven in the Australian petrol and convenience space.

There are more than 65 Fast & Ezy outlets across Australia, with the rest of UCB’s members independently branded.

Its members have also been trialling ideas like branded product fridges, such as a Ben & Jerry’s freezer seen at a Fast & Ezy in Sydney’s Liverpool.

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