News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Somerfield Goes Texaco, Goes Co-op

Petrol station near Yaktsk, Siberia, RussiaImage via Wikipedia

Well what a relief. After two years (almost to the day) that the new Texaco / Somerfield petrol station opened on Falcondale Road, the fraught issue of branding compatibility looks finally as if it is on the way to being resolved, as Westbury on Trym's somnambulant village centre was shaken to life this afternoon with the unexpected arrival of a large articulated lorry carrying the shiny new sign which has since been erected at the front of the petrol forecourt. 

The lorry driver making the gargantuan delivery was clearly being directed to his destination by a Sat Nav device. A human being reading a map would have discerned in advance that Eastfield, the High Street and Canford Road were not the obvious choices for a 40 ton vehicle when attempting to reach Falcondale Road from the motorway network. 

Traffic chaos notwithstanding, the new sign - with contrasting red and green lights to signify diesel and unleaded prices (guess which is which) marks the end of the signage limbo that has caused such distress among BS9's brand-savvy residents and motorists in recent years.

Now at last we have what we always knew we had: a Co-op store and a Texaco petrol station.

The original Somerfield petrol station that for years stood astride the mighty River Trym, in a mocking anti-environmental fashion, was knocked down in 2007. Several years before that, however, Somerfield (whose head office was in Whitchurch) had bought out the Texaco forecourts in the UK.

Thus armed with a chain of supermarkets and an oil slick of petrol stations, Somerfield was itself taken over in 2007 by the Co-operative. 

The takeover of Somerfield by Co-op (the PR called it a merger, but, we all know that there's rarely such a thing in business) led to the re-branding of the Somerfield stores into Co-ops nationwide - including the ones at Carlton Court in the village and on Henleaze Road.
The local exception to this re-branding was the petrol station on Falcondale Road. Whereas the forecourt was branded Texaco, the shop remained resolutely Somerfield - as revealed in this photo taken the day that the new garage opened on February 6th 2008.

Now (happy event!) the old Texaco sign has at last come down and been replaced with .... a new Texaco sign. Close observation reveals that any similarity to the previous placard is entirely superficial. Where once there was "Texaco" and "Somerfield", now at last there is "Texaco" and "Co-op."

At least, there will be once they've finished putting the signs up above the shop entrance and moving various food items from one shelf to another. Thursday 3rd of February, I am reliably informed by sources close to the till, is the day that the store itself officially becomes a Co-op and the mockery of the "partnership" with the now non-existent Somerfield can be finally laid to rest.

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