|Locations:||up to 45|
|Predecessors:||Pavilion, Taverna, Mobil, Kenning Motor Group|
Throughout their run, Granada carried several distinct arms. As well as providing the North-West's ITV, they rented out TV equipment, worked with several small hotel chains and they ran the UK's largest network of motorway services.
Like Trusthouse Forte, they became a hospitality giant, chewing at their competitors right from the start. Their earliest services were markedly different from their competitors because they went for a more simple approach, while the other operators were aiming for fine-dining. Although other operators soon followed their lead, none took it as far as Granada, who had a habit of taking over services such as the one at Mecca Village and removing all the frills.
Things went well for them during the nineties, which started out with them building several new services on the A1, A36, A38 and the A40. They then bought eight sites from Pavilion (a move which, for the first time, knocked Forte from pole position in terms of motorway services). Welcome Break were said to be interested in Pavilion, but they backed off because they didn't want to be investigated by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Granada didn't want to arise suspicion either, so when they bought Pavilion they sold two of their own sites to create First. They also agreed to close Severn View but this never happened.
In 1995 Granada's wave of success continued as they acquired The Forte Group, which included their competitors Welcome Break, roadside restaurants Little Chef and Happy Eater and budget hotel chain Travelodge.
Upon buying Welcome Break, Granada described the company's original concepts as "still looking good", but that they "have not been kept up to date". Granada also said that they wanted to add fast food to all the services and in doing this, make a much-doubted £500m from the deal. Just months after buying them, Granada upped the prices at all of their services given that they now owned over 75% of the motorway market, for example the M4 is 189 miles long and yet the only services which weren't owned by Granada were at the very end. It's not surprising that they did make their £500m. Granada also bought and rebranded the Facilities at the Dover Port.
Granada converted all their Happy Eaters to Little Chef (they said that the name Little Chef earnt more money, although today Little Chef have their own financial problems) and added Little Chefs and Burger Kings to almost all their services, including the Welcome Breaks. Granada were doing so well that they built lots of services along trunk routes. Many of them have shrunk since but you can still recognise them because they use Granada's distinctive road signs.
By now, Granada had grown so much they were investigated by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, who put a cap on the prices at their services and insisted that they sold Welcome Break. Eventually Investcorp bought them, but the whole deal took almost 2 years - a time which angered many people, especially Roadchef.
Meanwhile, conscious that an increasing proportion of drivers were choosing to drive by, Granada brought in Pentagram to help improve their brand strength. Pentagram pointed out that Granada had cut corners to the point where they were driving people away. They completely redesigned the sample site at Stafford, effectively making everything more pleasant with minor changes such as replacing carpets with polished wood and larger toilets. Other big ideas of theirs included a new, upmarket coffee bar and most impressively, giving staff the task of welcoming customers and handing them ashtrays. While these suggestions weren't taken forward, Pentagram believed in consistency, and the "red G" and circular colour scheme were immediately adopted nationwide, and are still partly in use today.
In 2000 Granada merged with the Compass Group, but they diverged again in 2001, however, Granada only took their media business with them: Compass retained the hospitality side. Compass made their mark by changing their services to become Motos, this was because during the 1990s motorway services had reached an all-time low in terms of consumer confidence, and Compass wanted to turn this image round by providing a "a better, continental-feeling service". This was done with the help of Fallon, the company which helped change the image of Skoda.
When they were at their best, many of Granada's services were massive, being more like shopping centres and featuring far more high street brands than any other operator (see below). Amongst other initiatives, they created a special stream of radio called 'Granada FM'.
Granada's final logo, introduced in 1996, was dubbed the "red G" and marked an associated change in branding across the entire estate. Their history of somewhat simple logos in a variety of fonts goes back long before then. To the right is the logo which featured in their publications throughout the early nineties.
Their earlier logo was much closer to the Granada TV scheme, and the associated red has been used by Granada throughout the history of their services.
Granada's facilities included:
General: Meeting Room, Contemplation Room, Trucker's Lounge, Business Rooms, Gscape
Restaurants: Cafe Nescafe, Granada Country Kitchen Restaurant, Harry Ramsden's, Little Chef, Pizza Hut, Rock Island Diner, Burger King, Happy Eater, AJ's, La Brioche Doree, Burger Express
Shops: Retail Store, Boots, The Body Shop, Halfords, Birthdays, Claire's, Knickerbox, The Sock Shop, Ladbrokes, Scoop, T2, Thorntons, Superdrug, Tandy, Clinton Cards, Motorpoint, Early Learning Centre
Fuel: BP, Esso, Shell, Total
Motel: Travelodge, Granada Hotel
The following services were owned by Granada:
- Birch (M62)
- Blyth (A1/A1(M))
- Burton-in-Kendal (M6) (northbound only)
- Cardiff West (M4)
- Cherwell Valley (M40/A43)
- Chieveley (M4/A34)
- Doncaster (North) (M18/M180)
- Donington Park (M1/A42/A50)
- Exeter (M5)
- Ferrybridge (M62/A1)
- Frankley (M5)
- Heston (M4)
- Hilton Park (M6)
- Kinross (M90)
- Knutsford (M6)
- Lancaster (M6)
- Leigh Delamere (M4)
- Magor (M4)
- Medway (M2)
- Pease Pottage (M23/A23)
- Reading (M4)
- Severn View (M48)
- Southwaite (M6)
- Stafford (North) (M6) (northbound only)
- Stirling (M9/M80)
- Swansea (M4)
- Tamworth (M42/A5)
- Thurrock (M25/A13/A282)
- Toddington (M1)
- Trowell (M1)
- Washington (A1(M))
- Woolley Edge (M1)
- Cardiff Gate (M4)
- Colsterworth (A1)
- Grantham North (A1)
- Lymm (M6/M56)
- Markfield/Leicester (M1)
- Monmouth (A40)
- Musselburgh (A1/A702)
- Peartree (A34/A40/A44)
- Saltash (A38)
- Scotch Corner (A1/A66)
- Sutton Scotney (A34)
- Tiverton (M5)
- Todhills (M6, then A74)
- Warminster (A36)
The following services were planned by Granada but they were never built:
- Basingstoke (M3)
- Bridgwater - site adjacent to existing service area (M5)
- Maidenhead (M4/A308(M)/A404(M))
- Pucklechurch (M4)
- Stafford (South) - site adjacent to existing service area (M6)
With thanks to Alan Simpson for the information used on this page.