Motorway service area provider Moto has closed 70% of its M&S stores within its network due to the lack of demand caused by people taking fewer journeys as the COVID-19 lockdown continues.
Ken McMeikan, chief executive of Moto, explained that traffic during the week is down by two-thirds compared to last year, and by as much as 85% at the weekends.
The decision had been difficult, he said, as Moto had worked hard to try and keep the M&S stores open for essential workers, but that at particular stores some days staff had thrown out more than they sold.
He added: “We are keeping about 30% open (11 in the Moto network and four through the Extra MSA network), and they account for about 70% of the transactions we are getting.”
When the government announced the start of the lockdown on 23 March, the catering brands Burger King, Costa, Greggs and KFC franchises were closed. Subsequently, Moto has had to furlough 2,900 of its 5,000 staff across the 45 strong network.
Since then Moto has been determined to provide hot food where it can. “At first we reopened the West Cornwall Pasty facilities at 16 of our sites and then looked at other solutions at different sites,” he said.
This past week Moto is trialling a pre-order hot food service at its Ferrybridge MSA off the M62 and A1(M) in Yorkshire.
The idea is to use a ‘dark kitchen’ for pre-ordered food, where HGV drivers’ phone ahead and collect orders on arrival. If successful, he said, the scheme will be rolled out to other sites where there is a demand.