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Parkfoot petrol station on London Road, West Malling opens online store

A family owned petrol station in West Malling that opened an online store to help those shielding in lockdown says the service will become a permanent feature.

Parkfoot Spar on London Road, West Malling, which already doubles up as a butchers, bakers, car wash and off licence, is now giving supermarkets a run for their money adding the online store to its portfolio.

Parkfoot Spar petrol station as it looks today
Parkfoot Spar petrol station as it looks today

The service, which launched on September 1, means customers within four miles can now get their groceries delivered for just £3, or select a click-and-collect time slot.

Director and co-owner Sue Charman said this is something they have wanted to do for a while but the pandemic gave them the push they needed.

She said: “Online ordering was successfully introduced several years ago for Christmas turkey and butchery orders, and since then the company has been working towards developing a year-long offer.

“The lockdown situation provided the necessary stimulus. A delivery service was introduced for the elderly and vulnerable and a click-and-collect service was created for customers to have a no-contact shopping experience.

“The way it works is customers will drive to the back of the store, open their boot and a member of staff will pop their shopping in.”

Caroline from Parkfoot unloading the delivery van named Penelope
Caroline from Parkfoot unloading the delivery van named Penelope

At the height of the pandemic, Parkfoot’s team was delivering 30 orders a day in their specially designed van nicknamed Penelope.

The business which has been in the Charman family for more than 70 years has seen its fair share of changes over the decades.

The now diverse business started off as a tiny kiosk.

Sonnie Charman, a local builder, bought the site in 1949.

He sold a small garage he owned in Sutton Valence and took over Parkfoot.

Parkfoot from the 1950s with the family home on the right
Parkfoot from the 1950s with the family home on the right

It got its name because it stood in a rag-stone quarry at the foot of Leybourne Park.

At the time it had a petrol forecourt, a garage repair workshop and also sold cars.

In the sixties, car sales moved up the road to Clare Park Service station, on the site where B&Q now stands.

Sonnie’s son Norman Charman later took over and is still the owner and director.

He runs the company with his son, David, daughter Sue, and son-in-law Martin.

Parkfoot from the 1960s
Parkfoot from the 1960s

A fourth generation could soon take over as David’s children Samuel and Jodie are often found working during university holidays.

There were workshops at Parkfoot until the 1990s when they gradually gave way to car washes which became the Aquatec Hot Jet Wash Centre three years ago.

But perhaps the biggest change over the years has been to the shop itself. Over the decades the kiosk grew into a small store which has been extended several times.

In 2013, the family house next-door was demolished and the side of the old quarry where it stood was excavated to create space for the current store.

With the addition of the online store, Miss Charman says the changes won't stop there.

She says Parkfoot has top secret plans for the next five years which could see the business expanding into some 'interesting new areas'.

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