|Associated names:||Burger King, WHSmith, M&S Simply Food, Eat & Drink Co., West Cornwall Pasty Co, Travelodge, Krispy Kreme, Lucky Coin, Ladbrokes, Fone Bitz, Costa, Greggs, Cotton Traders, Upper Crust|
|Acquired by:||Macquarie Bank|
|Chief executive:||Tim Moss|
|Headquarters address:||Moto Hospitality Limited|
PO Box 218
Toddington [Motorway Services]
LU5 6QG [map]
|Phone number:||01525 873933|
Moto (officially known as Moto Hospitality) is the biggest operator and were the first to introduce many brands and ideas which are now common at services across the country.
Moto were originally known for providing a variety of shops (a hangover from Granada), but under Compass the focus moved towards few, high-quality names offering a simple choice. They used to be quite vocal about the variety of visitors they could serve, with facilities ranging from contemplation rooms, trucker's lounges and dog stations.
Moto were the first operator to convert all of their retail stores to WHSmith outlets, and they also use the popular M&S Simply Food chain. The stores impressed Holiday Which? Magazine who described them as "well worth driving on the motorway for alone". Moto have also looked into introducing Sainsbury's and Tesco stores, after Granada struggled to convince them to get on board.
In 2008 Moto introduced Eat & Drink Co. as their own-brand restaurant, alongside Costa as their chosen coffee provider, replacing Fresh Express and Caffè Ritazza respectively. Moto are also associated with Burger King, a connection which they inherited from Granada.
Most Moto services have an adjacent motel provided by Travelodge, another Granada hangover. Their have been several hints that now they are no longer tied to them, Moto would like to change to Days Inn, with motels under this name at Wetherby and Winchester (the latter being more of an oddity). There were plans to change the motel at Cherwell Valley to a Days Inn but these fell through.
They signed a deal with Virgin Radio to provide a mix of radio and offers available inside the services in a special stream which will soon be playing at all of their services.
In 2011, Moto introduced West Cornwall Pasty Company and Domino's Pizza to their services but Domino's Pizza never took off and was removed again. In 2012, Greggs was introduced at Lymm and Birch as it was announced that Greggs would be opening at 30 more Moto sites. Fuel is usually provided by BP or Esso.
In 2008, Moto were the only large operator to introduce a new service area. Wetherby claimed to be the greenest service station in the UK. The Wetherby model was later copied to replace the fire damage at Cherwell Valley. Also in 2008, they bought services at Winchester and tried to buy two First services, but the latter plans were dropped.
Their current pattern of refurbishment largely focuses on adding takeaway concessions to the front of their services, creating a new front in the process. Other refurbishments have included brand new restaurants at Lymm and Chieveley, serving artisan and Asian cuisine. In addition, Moto have introduced large indoor play areas for children.
Following their acquisition of two separate truckstops in the early 2000 to safeguard their market share against forthcoming road improvements in each area, those being Lymm and Barton Park, some Poplar 2000 branding was carried over from Lymm to Barton Park. The internal branding at each site is now being slowly moved towards the standard Moto affair.
In 2004, their website stated that Moto had a 39% market share in the motorway services business, and served over 120 million people.
Moto have won awards from Tommy's Parent Friendly Loo and between 2003 and 2006 they did well in the Loo of the Year, coming top in the UK in 2005 and winning a Standards of Excellence (Champions League) award in 2006, but in 2007 and 2008 only one of their services was graded. The 2008 awards were dominated by Welcome Break.
They have their own charity, Moto in the Community Trust, who help out the local area surrounding their services.
In 2008 The Times listed Moto as being the 57th biggest private company (dropping 9 places since the year before), with annual sales of £786m and profits of £52m.
Moto are responsible for one of the most iconic buildings on the motorway network, The Pennine Tower. They recently painted it into its original colour scheme.
Full details: Granada
Almost all of Moto's services have previously operated under the name Granada, as part of their hospitality and media empire. In 2000 Granada merged with the Compass Group, but they diverged again in 2001. Granada only took their media business with them: Compass retained the hospitality side. Compass made their mark by replacing Granada's name with Moto, hoping that this would overcome the industry's low consumer confidence. Compass wanted to turn the image round by providing "a better, continental-feeling service". This was done with the help of Fallon, the company which helped change the image of Skoda.
Over the next few years Permira bought Travelodge and Little Chef (which Compass had also inherited) and Macquarie Bank bought Moto as Compass were hitting rocky ground. Incidentally, Macquarie Bank also own Midlands Expressway Ltd who run the M6 Toll road which, like motorway service stations, is notoriously expensive.
When Moto were introduced, Compass said they would be rolling the brand out across Europe, with up to 20 continental Motos opening. Only one or two were ever introduced, and they have since been sold.
One of the sites to open was the Aire de Vernay service area on the A11 in France, which provided a Caffè Ritazza, Flunch Express, Bonne Journée. It was run with Cofiroute, a French motorway operator.
Moto's logo of a relaxed traveller (right) has been used ever since the company was first created. They were the first of the operators to find a loophole in the law; by changing their operating logo to read 'Moto M&S Simply Food' at the appropriate sites, they can get round the strict regulations which prevent them from advertising their facilities on the motorway. Welcome Break and Roadchef soon copied this initiative. Keen to stay one step ahead of the game, Moto have announced their newest brand by making their logo read 'Costa M&S', giving no reference to Moto on the headboard at all. This was followed by 'Caffè Ritazza Burger King' for the services which don't have a Costa, but now they all do.
In the past few months most of the Moto branding has been removed from within the services too. Some of the wider signs now use 'Burger King Costa M&S', the first to use three different brand names. At services that have a Greggs but not an M&S, 'Greggs Burger King Costa' is used.
A list of services ran by Moto can be found at on a map., or you can view them
When Moto was created, it included a number of smaller services which their owners weren't as interested in. Since then Moto have had a confusing relationship with various small services.
- Sutton Scotney was acquired by Moto but never rebranded, and eventually sold off
- Markfield was also acquired by Moto and branded as such, but was sold in 2011
- Tiverton and Dover Port were acquired by Moto and are advertised on their website
- Todhills was acquired by Moto and redeveloped by them, leaving them with a filling station and a Costa Coffee outlet on each side.
- The forecourts and car parks at Warminster, Colsterworth, Musselburgh and Saltash were inherited by Moto, and feature on their website, despite being down-sized. Musselburgh was sold off in 2014 and has now been removed from their website.
- Moto took over Lymm and introduced their facilities there, but the old branding is still used and wasn't included on their website until 2015.
- Barton Park was developed by Moto as a truckstop and wasn't included on their website until 2015.
- Scotch Corner and Grantham North are indistinct to Moto's other services, despite being on a-roads. They feature on the website too.
- Extra lease out their facilities to other operators. Moto run the Greggs at Baldock, Beaconsfield, Blackburn with Darwen and Cobham, Costa at Blackburn with Darwen, Cambridge, Cullompton and Peterborough, and the remaining M&S units at Baldock, Beaconsfield, Cambridge, Cobham and Peterborough.
Moto are currently developing plans to build:
Views expressed in these comments are those of the individual contributor. They are moderated by Facebook.