How independent shops are clubbing together to tackle supermarkets
Vince Brotheridge and Jean Redgate at Redgates Farm Shop, Grangefield farm, Mansfield Rd, Brinsley
YOU’VE done your shopping list but don’t have time to visit the store. No problem. You register with your supermarket’s home delivery service and wait for the doorbell to ring.
But what if you don’t like one-stop shops? What if you prefer to support independents and to divide your custom between specialist butchers, bakers, grocers and fishmongers?
The answer could be to shop online at www.wedeliverlocal.co.uk – a specialist independent food delivery service that has just got a toehold in Nottinghamshire.
“Around two years ago, the first We Deliver Local order was made – a veg box in Macclesfield,” says the firm’s business development manager, Andrew Hughes.
“Now, the website has reached 4,000 hits a month and, with a conversion-to-sales rate holding at eight to ten per cent, the customers are coming.”
The thinking behind We Deliver Local is simple. You visit the website, enter your postcode and up come the shop windows of participating shops in your neighbourhood. You then enter each shop, click on your fancies, proceed to checkout, make your payment and pick a delivery slot.
Expands the market place for independent food retailers.
Saves time for customers who choose to support local independent shops.
Provides an income for freelance delivery organiser-drivers like Vince Brotheridge, who is developing the We Deliver Local service in the Kimberley-Eastwood area.
“I discovered it while surfing and thought what a good idea it was and signed up to be a driver earning a fee for each delivery,” says Vince, 50, a sales executive.
He is the glue in the breakthrough cluster of shops in Notts – a greengrocer and deli in Kimberley and a farm shop in Brinsley, plus a craft baker in the heart of Nottingham.
The logistics mean custom is building up mainly in the NG16 postcode area – Kimberley, Eastwood, Underwood – but the firm hopes to establish other clusters of shops to satisfy demand in other areas, West Bridgford, for instance.
“People are accustomed to the idea of seasonal organic vegetable boxes, so you need to have a greengrocer in the group,” says Vince, who in his spare time collects the website-ordered goods from each retailer and plans delivery runs to fit customers’ timing.
To protect the interests of participating retailers, the firm will not double up and engage competing specialist shops.
That’s good news for David and Jean Redgate and their sons – Brinsley-based farmers and butchers.
We Deliver Local customers and other visitors to Redgates Farm Shop – up a long track off the A608 Mansfield Road – will be eating beef from the Limousin-cross-Hereford herd and lamb from the Lleyn sheep reared on the family’s 250-acre Coney Grey Farm.
Meat packs are a speciality. The half lamb pack, for instance, offers a whole leg, rolled shoulder joint, neck, chump steaks, kidneys, four Barnsley chops and six cutlets.
This is a traditional, no-nonsense farm shop.
“It’s meat from our farm and we make our own pies,” says Jean Redgate behind a counter of appealing pastries. Vince nods approvingly, saying he recommends the large cured pork pie with Stilton topping.
The chutneys and sauces come from Redgate family recipes and what they don’t rear or process themselves still comes with plenty of local provenance. The beer shelves include Blue Monkey ales from Giltbrook and the products of Colwick’s Flipside Brewery.
There is room on the cheese counter for Peakland Blue, from Hartington, once the home of Derbyshire’s last Stilton creamery.
We Deliver Local’s Andy Hughes, 34, studied environmental sciences at Nottingham Trent University but is now based in Cheshire, working with the founders, brothers Darren and Lee Parkinson.
“We are old school friends and I took a step back from something else I was working on to help them.
“It’s started off in some areas just as a veg box scheme but people talk to each other and it became clear that there was a demand for other produce from people who want to support local businesses. Once you’ve got that, it doesn’t take much to get started.”
We Deliver Local takes a ten per cent commission on each order and the customer pays a small delivery fee, which goes to the driver.
According to Andy Hughes, it’s a way of shopping that can help keep independents flourishing in the high street.
“Britain has lost 3,000 greengrocers in the last few years and We Deliver Local gives them a wider catchment area and brings in customers on top of their regular footfall,” he says.
“We promote local, ethical and sustainable business.”
For more information, for customers and retailers, visit www.wedeliverlocal.co.uk.