Delivering in a crisis
Read our feature by Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.
The South West’s leading wholesale food supplier to the catering industry in hotels, pubs, guest houses and schools has turned a potential lockdown disaster into a retail success, culminating in the launch of their home delivery service Veggies & More.
Losing 85% of trade in one fell lockdown swoop might have plunged WestCountry, with its three depots in Cornwall and Devon and hundreds of suppliers, into deep despair. But the swiftest of turnarounds saw their vans running next-day deliveries to householders initially through their Bulk Buy service – now re-branded and re-launched with new livery this week as Veggies & More.
“We’ve never been ‘passive’ at WestCountry and lockdown made us instantly reappraise what had to be done,” says joint Managing Director Sean Williams, whose specialist food wholesale business was founded in Falmouth more than 150 years ago. “With the country in lockdown and households across the region desperately needing access to stocks of fresh foods and general groceries, supermarket shelves were emptying and many couldn’t or were afraid to leave their homes. Within three days of lockdown we had pivoted our business to deliver the best, freshest local produce and much more besides direct to their doorsteps.”
WestCountry has been swamped with emails and letters from grateful customers: one example, a self-isolating couple in Truro who have been relying on WestCountry’s home deliveries since the lockdown began wrote,
“Just wanted to say, your next day grocery delivery service is a life saver and the constantly increasing range of products, as well as the warm and friendly personal service, mean that we have been enthusiastically recommending your business to all of our friends and neighbours. Thank you, your great work is really appreciated!”
Customers have the pick of 3000 products, choosing among the quality wares of more than 100 local producers and more than 1000 other prime grocery and household items. Veggies&more vans are delivering from WestCountry’s three depots near Falmouth, St Austell and Newton Abbot to homes across the region from Land’s End to Taunton in the north and Weymouth in the east.
“We work with fantastic suppliers – from farmers to growers and breweries to bakeries and everyone has rallied to make our home delivery service work smoothly from day one,” says fellow joint MD Roger Rossignol. “We’re able to give unbeatable value and convenience across huge ranges of cupboard groceries, dairy lines, drinks and fresh produce as well as cleaning and hygiene essentials.”
As with Bulk Buy, Veggies & More offers next day delivery, Monday to Saturday, between 7am and 7pm. Delivered orders can be placed via the new website, www.veggiesandmore.co.uk , over the telephone 01326 331 900 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org . The minimum order value for delivery is £35, with deliveries over £100 free of charge anywhere across Cornwall and Devon. Customers who live within reach of the three Westcountry depots in Falmouth, St Austell and Newton Abbott also have the option to collect grocery orders. Collection orders have no minimum spend requirement and can even be placed on a ‘same day’ order-collection basis. Depot collection orders are ready for collection between 1pm and 4pm daily.
“To save our business we have had to react instantly to unprecedented circumstances which are having devastating consequences in many different ways across the world,” says Sean. “In our own sphere it is beyond upsetting to think of, and talk to, our colleagues in the hospitality and catering industry who look likely to be deprived of up to 100% of their business income for months to come - potentially right through our peak summer season.”
Although more than 85% of regular wholesale customers are currently not open and trading, WestCountry has continued to provide the best customer care and delivery service to hospitals, care homes and independent retail customers across the region whose need for daily replenishment from reliable and responsive local suppliers has never been greater.
Loyal and hard-working staff in each of the depots have continued to man the phones, pick and pack orders and deliver the goods, ensuring that Westcountry’s reputation for daily delivery reliability has never been compromised - despite the unique and challenging circumstances.
“BulkBuyGroceries and Veggies & More have enabled us to keep many of our staff employed whilst also providing a vital service to the thousands of households left isolated during lockdown,” says Roger. “It has also enabled us to ensure that we are ready and able to serve our catering customers in pubs, restaurants and hotels again, as and when they are able to open their own businesses up over the coming months. We are in a position to help them to get their businesses back up and running again and, in turn, to help to get our local economy back on track.”
Louise Midgley Communications Ltd
o Louise Midgley PR Consultant
o May 21, 2020