Motorway Services Online

Roadchef

Roadchef
Roadchef
Locations:30
Associated names:The Burger Company, McDonald's, Costa, Restbite, Pizza Hut, Hot Food Co., Fone Bitz, Game On, WHSmith, Days Inn
Introduced:1973
Predecessors:Blue Boar, Take a Break, First
Acquired by:Antin Infrastructure Partners
Chief executive:Simon Turl
Headquarters address:RoadChef Motorways Ltd
RoadChef House
Norton Canes [Motorway Services]
Betty's Lane
Norton Canes
Cannock
Staffordshire
WS11 9UX [map]
Phone number:01543 272540
Website:
www.roadchef.com
Facebook Page
Twitter: @roadchef

Roadchef is the smallest of the 'big three' operators, and being the only one of the three not to have had an affair with Granada, stands out as being slightly different from the rest.

Roadchef Today

The refurbished open-plan but disorganised seating that Roadchef have placed in previously claustrophobic services

Their services usually take two forms; either small, secluded services built by Roadchef or modern open ones which have been inherited and re-built or built by them in recent years.

The headquarters used to be located in Barnwood, Gloucester, before moving to Norton Canes to save money. Like other operators, they introduced several new brands to their services such as WHSmith and McDonald's. They also replaced Wimpy with their own branded The Burger Company and they've experimented with Pasty Presto and Soho Coffee Co.

Roadchef offer a free BT WiFi service for all customers, something which proved popular and was later followed up on by Moto.

Fuel is provided under a variety of brands.

In October 2010, they confirmed the creation of over 400 jobs as part of a multi-million pound investment programme to regenerate the company’s entire estate up until 2015. The first two years saw £12 million spent on redeveloping the catering facilities at ten key sites. At the same time, Roadchef also signed a 20 year agreement with McDonald's following the successful trial at Strensham. They also said that all of their RestBite outlets were going to be changed to Hot Food Co., following the successful trials at Strensham, Northampton and Watford Gap. This never happened as they have introduced a new brand called Fresh Food Café which replaced the Hot Food Co. outlets. Finally, Roadchef also promised that all of their Costa outlets were going to be moved to larger units or be upgraded. In February 2013, Roadchef confirmed that they will be upgrading all of their RestBite restaurants but at the moment, with Fresh Food Cafe generally being the favoured replacement. The refurbished sites do without dark units, and instead offer one large food court.

In August 2011, they broke a chain of bad news by buying First's two services, in a deal reportedly worth £10m.

Roadchef also had the poorest result in VisitEngland's 2012 survey, with Watford Gap losing a star, and the average result being the lowest of all the operators.

In May 2012, RoadChef launched their first 'Engenie' Electric Car Charging Point at Clacket Lane and were expected to launch 16 of them before the end of 2012 and the remainder before March 2013. The switch on was then postponed again to Summer 2013 but yet again, this never happened. The current expected date for the switch on is now expected to be some time before September 2014. However, four Ecotricity Electric Car Charging Points were installed in October 2013, Clacket Lane being one of them swapping from Engenie to Ecotricity.

Having previously sold their only a-road services at Symonds Yat and in 2014 Roadchef acquired Sutton Scotney, which are now their only a-road services.

Company History

Estate

Roadchef set up in 1973 as a small but growing service area operator. It was a joint venture between Lindley Catering Investments and Galleon World Travel, and was known as "Galleon RoadChef" for quite a while and often abbreviated to just "Galleon". They built services with one large restaurant instead of the two or three which had been used at the time.

In the Prior Report of 1978, they complained they were rookie operators and heavily in debt. The Department for Transport agreed to change some regulations to help them, but had considered allowing them to fall on their own sword. Weirdly, their complaint was that there were too many services, despite their plans to build more, and they were particularly concerned about new hypermarkets opening; they wanted their services to double up as shopping centres and entertainment venues, citing WHSmith as an example of someone they wanted to run their shops.

In 1996 they had a plan to introduce a Wimpy drive-thru at their only fully owned service station Sandbach but the plans were dropped and this never happened.

By 1998 they had acquired three services from Blue Boar (including the oldest in the country, Watford Gap) and Take-a-Break's only, Strensham. Although this didn't push them too far forward on the league table, it did knock out two important names which means that today the operator is well known.

In 2008 Roadchef had a series of difficult financial problems and sold Winchester services. After some years of reports that they would be sold by their then parent company Delek, they were acquired by Antin Infrastructure Partners (Antin IP) on 30 September 2014.

Other Interests

In 2003 Roadchef started sponsoring several road-based companies in order to generate publicity.

Roadchef were trialling the idea of a 'RoadCard', a loyalty card for Roadchef users that could be used at Stafford (South) and Strensham. This was eventually pulled due to lack of interest.

Recent Developments

After an unsuccessful stint with McDonald's in the 1990s, and a period of falling behind competitors who were building new shops and popular fast food stores, Roadchef tried again in 2008. This trial was a success, and began a widespread programme of large-scale refurbishments introducing new restaurants, a new convenience store Spar, and the acquisition of a new service station at Sutton Scotney, all moving away from the traditional isolated seating area and focusing on a series of counters around a central dining area.

Logo History

The old RoadChef logo

Roadchef's initial logo consisted of a chef's hat and coffee cup, accompanied by the slogan "serves the traveller".

They then moved on to writing 'RoadChef' on a sign in red (the capitalisation seems to have varied depending on their mood, but the current trend is to write it all in lower case). In 2002 they introduced the slightly more relaxed and stylish logo (see above), and before then they used the slightly funkier '80s logo pictured to the right.

Roadchef, in line with the other operators, changed their logo so that it read 'RoadChef Costa Coffee' on the headboard on signs for their services. Part of the trial at Strensham involved making the headboard read 'McDonald's Costa', something which the others soon picked up on.

Roadchef Services

Full details: List of Roadchef services

A list of services ran by Roadchef can be found at this page, or you can view them on a map.

Former Services

The following services were owned by Roadchef:

Unbuilt Services

The following services were planned by Roadchef but they were never built:

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