Fire-ravaged forecourt reopens with ‘Welcome’ new look

Welcome store in Bursledon Road, Sholing

A Southampton petrol station and convenience store has reopened its doors yesterday (23 March) after it was ravaged by fire last year.

The Welcome store in Bursledon Road, Sholing, has been operating out of a temporary portable cabin since the blaze broke out in a refrigeration unit in the early hours of 16 June.

Despite significant damage to the shop, luckily no one was injured.

The Lawrences, owners and franchisees, were heartbroken by the devastation as the petrol station and shop had to temporarily close its doors.

But they decided to use the incident as an opportunity and have now transformed the store with a brand new layout, new products and new technology.

Ben Lawrence, Director of Lawrences Garages Group, said: “In March last year, we were only just coming out of another lockdown after a year that had been physically and mentally exhausting.

“The fire could have broken us but we have turned things around with the support of our franchise partner Southern Co-op and have a new and improved store to show for it.”

The store reopened with a host of new features including electronic shelf edge labels, media screens, and a ‘food to go’ selection comprising of award winning fwip ice cream, Dunkin’ donuts, Rollover Hotdogs, Lavazza coffee and Chicago Town Pizza.

The Sholing store showcases Southern Co-op’s Welcome franchise brand which includes Co-op own-label products that offers choice, quality and ethical standards.

The focus is also on fresh food and a commitment to support the local community.

Mike Fitton, Southern Co-op’s franchise business manager, said: “The Lawrences are one of our longest standing partners so when we learnt of the fire, it felt very close to home – especially with our head offices just down the road in Portsmouth.

“They are a true family-run business – brothers Simon, Andrew and his son Ben – so it is really heartwarming to see such an amazing store come out of such horrendous circumstances. Our team were only too happy to support and are very proud to see such a eye-catching outcome.”