Oxford market stall turns to home delivery with help from Rygor12 May 2020

Family-run greengrocers, Bonners, which has been based out of the historic Oxford covered market for the last 70 years is just one of many businesses forced to diversify their offering to stay open during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Co-owner Verity Piggott says: “We are a retail and wholesale business, but our wholesale arm shut down overnight with the closure of hotels, restaurants and colleges. We had to think on our feet to ensure we could remain open and also still support our retail customers.”

“The farms we work with are only about seven miles from our stall and that is really important to us. People still want to support local and independent businesses right now and often find that its companies like ours which can still support them. Overnight our request for delivery orders increased in the region of 300 a day. People were calling and emailing to say they had nothing and were on their own. We really wanted to help everyone, but didn’t have the vehicles necessary to be able to meet the delivery demand,” Piggott said.

With so many orders being placed, Bonners needed to enhance its delivery options…and fast. With the immediate need for a refrigerated van, to ensure its produce remained fresh during delivery, Bonners turned to Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle Dealer, Rygor Commercials.

Piggot continues: “Rygor is our local Mercedes-Benz vans dealer, who we have had a long relationship with. I got in touch with them via their online chat function on their website. I couldn’t believe I had a reply from them in seconds and then a call from John [Lloyd] in their sales team within minutes. Within two hours, we had received a quote for a Sprinter refrigerated van on finance, and we had placed the order. I don’t think we have ever made such a quick decision, but John and the team were so helpful and understood our needs. By the next day, the van was with us. A turnaround of 24 hours is unbelievable and was so important to help us carry on our work and keep the business moving,” Verity added.

Not only is Bonners going the extra mile to get their produce out to all their customers and especially the elderly and vulnerable, the team has brought the Oxford Covered Market family together in such challenging times.

“The Covered Market in Oxford is iconic. It’s historic with an amazing range of food produce. We are a close-knit community here, many of us have known each other for years. Together we offer many products which people need right now, so I thought it made sense to allow customers to place their orders with us, for not just our produce, but meat from M Fellers Butchers, cheese from the Oxford Cheese Company, coffee from the Missing Bean, bread from the Natural Bread Company, drinks from Teardrop and The Cocktail Service, and flowers from The Garden Oxford. We then deliver out all the customer’s purchases in one van, which is not only convenient for the customer, but great for our businesses too – it’s about supporting each other right now.”

“We were conscious that there are lots of local people who could really do with a delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables to their door, especially during the current health pandemic. However, with the majority of food ordering for home delivery being online, we have found that many elderly and vulnerable people struggle to place orders. We wanted to make it as easy as possible, so as well as our online ordering system, we are taking orders over the phone,” Piggott concluded.

William Dalrymple

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