Western Morning News
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Athwenna Irons reports on how one West firm recouped lost business after a swift turnaround.
A leading wholesale food supplier in the South West has turned what could have been a potential lockdown disaster into a retail success, culminating in the launch of a new home delivery service.
Losing 85% of their trade in one fell swoop, due to the almost complete collapse of the food service and hospitality sectors, 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, but now re-branded and re-launched with new livery this week as Veggies & More.
Sean Williams joint managing director of WestCountry, whose family-run specialist food wholesale business - WestCountry Fruit Sales Ltd - was founded in Falmouth more than 150 years ago, said: 'We've never been 'passive' at WestCountry and lockdown made us instantly reappraise what had to be done.
''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.''
Since the launch of the new service, WestCountry has been swamped with emails and letters from grateful customers. One self-isolating couple in Truro, who have been relying on the firm'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 produces, 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 3,000 products, choosing among the quality wares of more than 100 local producers and more than 1,000 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 South West - from Land's End in West Cornwall, to Taunton in Somerset and Weymouth in Dorset.
Roger Rossignol, fellow joint managing director of WestCountry, added: '' 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''