Moto (officially known as Moto Hospitality) is the UK's largest operator and were the first to introduce many brands and ideas which are now common at services across the country.
As with all the large operators, their estate is varied, ranging from old and striking buildings to modern and successful, and they have been continuing to acquire new sites. Having invested in changes to the entrance to most of their services, adding takeaway units and M&S Simply Food, and several experiments with catering, they are now looking to expand with several ongoing proposals.
Recently Moto have been running competitions to encourage coach and lorry drivers (as well as generic social media competitions), and have been investing in their two truckstops at Lymm and Barton Park.
They have their own charity, Moto in the Community Trust, who help out the local area surrounding their services.
Moto have tried several experiments to make the most out of the catering business, rather than relying on traditional fast food outlets.
In 2015 and 2016, the food courts at several M4 services were thoroughly refurbished and Chow, El Mexicana and a own-brand patisserie called Arlo's were introduced, as well as new bars at Exeter and Lymm.
After a successful trial, they have introduced a Greggs to most of their services, mostly at the front. Stand-alone West Cornwall Pasty Company and Costa units have also been built. These all sell takeaway food only for tax reasons.
Meanwhile, they replaced the Little Chefs and Caffè Ritazza they inherited each with Costa outlets, and Fresh Express was changed to EDC - but then removed all together in some places. They continue to have a Burger King at all their sites.
While the estate they inherited from Granada included a whole host of shopping names, under Moto these were almost all moved out. Instead, they were the first operator to change all of their own shops to WHSmith franchises.
Moto's biggest retail success has been the trial and roll-out of the popular M&S Simply Food chain, which when it was introduced it was described by critics as being "well worth driving on the motorway for alone".
Full details: Granada
Most 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.
In 2004, their website stated that Moto had a 39% market share in the motorway services business, and served over 120 million people. They changed the direction of services by changing their shopping areas to trial Marks and Spencer Simply Food.
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. These newer services were set to include a Days Inn motel.
Also in 2008, they bought services at Winchester and tried to buy two First services, but the latter plans were dropped. At this point 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.
In 2014, Moto acquired the independent services at Leeming Bar. In 2016, they announced several proposals for new-build services.
Following their predecessor's acquisition of two separate truckstops in 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 has since moved towards the standard Moto affair.
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 Sarthe Touraine service area on the A28 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. In 2015 their corporate colours started to move from turquoise to monochrome.
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 'Greggs Costa M&S', the first to use three different brand names. Burger King and WHSmith are used if no other facilities are available.
Full details: List of Moto services
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 re-branded, and eventually sold off
- Markfield was also acquired by Moto and branded as such, but was sold in 2011
- At least the shop at Cardiff Gate was ran by Moto but sold off
- Tiverton and Dover Port were acquired by Moto and are advertised on their website
- Todhills was acquired by Moto and redeveloped by them
- The forecourts and car parks at Warminster and Saltash were inherited by Moto and feature on their website. Colsterworth and Musselburgh were the same until 2014
- Moto took over Lymm and introduced their facilities there, but it wasn't included on their website until 2015 and the old branding is still used
- 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
- Extra lease out their facilities to other operators. Moto run Greggs, West Cornwall Pasty Company, M&S units and Krispy Kreme stands at many of their services.
Moto are currently developing plans to build:
Moto are understood to have developed unsuccessful plans for:
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