A new chain of design-led motorway service stations is being launched, created by Cheshire-based design consultancy Building A Theme. It aims to break the monopoly of Granada, Welcome Break and Road Chef and raise the poor standards of service station design and catering.
Extra is a joint venture between two private property companies: Swayfields, which specialises in procuring sites for service stations, and Stadium Group.
Paul Danson, BAT chief executive, says it hopes to create a peaceful environment where motorists can relax, similar to an airport business lounge. It is using natural materials such as limestone flooring and indoor maple trees, and designing soft bespoke furniture to encourage informal business meetings.
There are 75 motorway service stations in Britain, 95 per cent of which are controlled by Granada, Welcome Break or Road Chef. Extra hopes to break their monopoly and raise standards of food – recently criticised in a Which? report.
Extra is launching three service stations initially, at Junction 17 of the A1(M) and the A13/M11, both near Peterborough, and Junction 10 of the A1(M) at Baldock, Herts. A fourth is planned, and BAT plans to roll-out up to 20 in total over the next few years.
The launch comes just before the Office of Fair Trading publishes its year-long investigation into anti-competitive behaviour among the top three companies, and announces whether it will refer the industry to the Competition Commission.