22/04/2020 - 10:05

Home run for home deliveries

22/04/2020 - 10:05

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Social distancing measures have changed the way we buy groceries, cook and eat out, leading to growth in home-delivery businesses and innovation by others in the hospitality space.

Home run for home deliveries
Lee Bardsley says The Doorstep Grocers was filling approximately 1,200 orders a week for 1,000 clients.

Social distancing measures have changed the way we buy groceries, cook and eat out, leading to growth in home-delivery businesses and innovation by others in the hospitality space.

Citrus WA has spent the better part of a decade selling cocktail supplies to Perth’s busy restaurants and bars.

Much has changed in the past few weeks, however, with the Midvale-based supplier now delivering groceries to residential customers under the name The Doorstep Grocers.

The rapid shift was made possible through the company’s existing relationships with suppliers, which allow it to sell boxes of seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta and eggs.

The Doorstep Grocers director Lee Bardsley said the switch from supplying bars and restaurants to households required new systems.

“We had to build the website, all the social media pages had to be built from scratch, we had to build an online shop, and we had to automate the business slightly as well,” Mr Bardsley told Business News.

Citrus WA received an average of 100 orders a week from 70 commercial clients, whereas The Doorstep Grocers was filling about 1,200 orders a week for 1,000 clients, Mr Bardsley said.

“We can’t manually do those runs,” he said.

“We have to have a piece of automation software to do that for us.

“So that’s changed the way we have operated the business as well, and become more online and more reliant on technology.”

The quick pivot has allowed Citrus WA to re-hire several staff it had let go when the city’s bars closed.

For every 50 orders it receives, The Doorstep Grocers is donating a box to a healthcare worker, a hospitality worker who has lost work, or a family in need, via the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.

It also allows customers to buy a box for others, under its ‘one for you, one for them’ program.

Meanwhile, meal kits, which provide groceries and recipes to match, have also proved popular in the current environment.

The price of shares in HelloFresh, which is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange but delivers throughout Perth, has climbed from $21.70 a share on March 2 to $29.96 on April 16.

The company has told the market its quarterly results will be well above expectations.

Dinner Twist managing director Chris Tistrand said his locally owned meal kit service delivered to 1,200 households per week before COVID-19 hit and was now supplying 2,200 per week.

Mr Tistrand said the business relied on its strong relationship with growers and its team to source replacement products in the wake of supply shortages caused by panic buying.

Sales at Dinner Twist’s Marketplace, which sells ethically produced milk, bread and cleaning products, had increased 600 per cent, he said.

Mr Tistrand said his team was already planning for any cost issues that may arise during the transition back to normal business.

You Plate It co-founder Mark Rawlings said his meal kit delivery business had experienced a big increase in demand and stopped taking on new customers for two weeks to ensure it could service existing customers properly.

“Part of the reason we turned off, and why we wanted to focus on our existing customers and do a good job for them, [was] we were acutely aware that prices of fresh fruit and vegetables and meats were rising,” Mr Rawlings told Business News.

“We were very quick to respond in adjusting recipes and in changing what we were doing with new customers so we didn’t have supply issues.”

The two-week hiatus gave You Plate It time to take on more staff and put on extra delivery vans.

You Plate It co-founder Paul Baumgartner said the business was again accepting new customers and had achieved a 50 per cent increase in sales since the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions.

Restaurants and cafes have also moved into the takeaway and delivery market since government restrictions caused them to close their doors to dine-in customers.

To help them reach consumers, app developer Hello People has offered to build free apps that hospitality venues can use to avoid the delivery charges levied by food delivery giants.

Hello People director Sony Sindhe said the software was suitable for any distribution business, but she particularly wanted to help local cafes and restaurants through a tough time.

“There are a lot of industries that can benefit from the platform,” she said.

“But right now we are only offering for restaurants because it is a fairly easy set-up for us to do and within our reach to extend that as help because we don’t make anything out of it.”

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